Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 9 comments

Click for greater clarity.

The whitened ghosts of last year give way to the growing greens of this one. So it is with giant ragweed, Ambrosia trifida, whose sturdy new stalk and upside-down flowers that push pollen out into the air long-time visitors to this column have already seen. Ragweed’s wind-wended release of pollen happens in the latter part of the year, but until then the desiccated stalks of deceased ancestors, often in dense colonies, linger in the landscape from the previous autumn and winter.

On July 4, 2011, when a few of you were reading about my visit in 2010 to the old Union Hill Cemetery, I went back to see what the cemetery was looking like a year later. Not long before getting there I stopped in northeastern Round Rock after I spied a large mound of earth that giant ragweed had conquered and planted its tall stalks on top of. With some difficulty I climbed part-way up the slope to photograph a new plant springing from the ruins left behind by the colonizers of 2010. As I was a traveler there, so had some purple bindweed vines been; you can see their curving remains left behind in a couple of places as well.


The daily posts that you’ve become accustomed to will continue while I’m away from Austin. Feel free to comment if you’d like, but please be aware that it may be a while before I can respond.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 3, 2012 at 5:41 AM

9 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Great idea for this photo.


    July 3, 2012 at 6:35 AM

  2. Is this related to Ambrosia artemisiifolia? It has become a dangerous invasive weed in Europe as it causes hefty allergies. Is it invasive in America too?


    July 3, 2012 at 7:11 AM

    • Yes, these two species in the genus Ambrosia are both native in the United States (including Austin), and both might be considered invasive. I didn’t know that A. artemisiifolia has found its way to (and caused allergic reactions in) Europe; sorry about that export.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 3, 2012 at 7:32 PM

  3. This is a really neat photo Steve. Old giving way to new.


    July 3, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    • Thanks, Wild Bill. That notion of “old giving way to new” might apply not only to plants but also to some of us Homo sapiens of a certain age.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 3, 2012 at 7:41 PM

  4. Ragweed with ambrosia in its scientific name? Someone had a warped sense of humor! For years of my young life I underwent shots to help me build up an immunity to this stuff – they worked, but I still can tell when the pollen is blowing down from the north in the fall. The only thing worse is the cedar.

    That aside, it’s a beautiful photograph. The dead stalks against that blue sky look positively wintry, but summer’s obviously going a have a say!


    July 5, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    • Yes, botanists seem to have been having their little joke. The Greek word ambrosia came from ambrotos, which meant ‘not dying’, and people who suffer from ragweed allergies in the fall feel as if those plants are never going to die down.

      I was taken with these dry stalks. I’m glad you, too, liked their whiteness against the clear blue (which, alas, was the sky that carried us through so much of last year’s drought).

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 5, 2012 at 9:13 PM

  5. […] Succession […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: