Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 8 comments

Click for greater size and clarity.

Normally in these pages you see pictures whose subjects are fairly sharp, but once in a while I go for a softer, more impressionistic approach. That’s the case here, where the dim light compelled me either to use flash or to open up my macro lens. I chose the latter, and the maximum aperture of f/2.8 produced a photograph in which the only thing in focus is the little area that includes some of the whitish markings near the top of the fruit.

The plant is Ibervillea lindheimeri, a native vine that’s making its first appearance here and that’s known as balsam-gourd. The red fruit is clearly the “gourd,” but what the balsam has to do with anything I don’t know. I do know that I’m grateful to Marie Laing for tipping me off on July 28 to the presence of this balsam-gourd in an upper portion of Great Hills Park. I went over there that very morning to see if I could find it, and I did.

Coincidentally, Marie lives on the same side of the same street at whose corner I took the pictures of Clematis drummondii that appeared three and four posts back. Also coincidentally, last week the NASA vehicle called Explorer landed in a crater on Mars, which has traditionally been called the red planet. Suspend your disbelief, change the scale, and perhaps you can see this balsam-gourd as the cratered surface of Mars. Either that or a red balloon.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 9, 2012 at 6:09 AM

8 Responses

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  1. I see it!! I see Curiosity driving around taking pictures of the surface of Mars!. Loved your imagination on this one Steve :).


    August 9, 2012 at 6:15 AM

  2. Now that I have “balsam” and “balsa” sorted out, I can just enjoy the photo. I did find one comment that amused me no end. The writer said that the gourds are “neither poisonous, nor edible”. That’s how I would describe Brussels sprouts.

    Those would make wonderful decorations for an autumn table – or late summer, depending on how long they hang around.


    August 9, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    • Writing about balsam-gourd in Texas Wild Flowers in 1929, Ellen D. Schulz said: “The fruits have recently become popular for use in interior decorations, as they do not lose their color or shape for a long time.”

      As for Brussels sprouts, your funny opinion may well reflect the majority view, though I happen to like the little green globes, just so long as they’re thoroughly cooked, including the inside, and not half-raw, as many restaurants serve them. On the language front, for years I’ve been after the produce departments in grocery stores, including Whole Foods, to stop putting up signs that say Brussel sprouts. The problem seems to be that fewer and fewer Americans have ever heard of Brussels, even though it’s the capital of Belgium.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 9, 2012 at 5:11 PM

  3. When I see a vine “suddenly appear” somewhere I wonder if it’s an invasive species? Lately we’ve been having a lot of trouble with vines that people thought was lovely and had decorative fruit that made great autumn decorations and wreaths. You say you like them? What do they taste like?

    Merrill Gonzales

    August 9, 2012 at 8:37 PM

  4. My first thought before I read your post was it looked like a balloon! Very beautiful macro shot!

    Michael Glover

    August 12, 2012 at 10:03 PM

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