Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Silverpuff through the summer

with 14 comments

Click for greater clarity.

Do you remember the silverpuff that appeared in these pages back in March as a bud and as a flower? This little wildflower, which Bob Harms reports can be split (though not easily) between Chaptalia texana and Chaptalia carduacea, has continued to appear sporadically on mostly shaded ground in the months since then. On August 13th along Harrogate Dr. in my northwestern part of Austin I found a few that were in the puffball stage you see here. Unlike the more common and better known dandelion, which also turns itself into a globe of fluff but is an aggressive European alien in the Americas, silverpuff is native to Texas. Travis County (which includes Austin) and adjacent Bastrop County mark the northeastern corner of silverpuff’s range.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 22, 2012 at 6:16 AM

14 Responses

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  1. The first word that came to my mind was wispy. It’s beautiful, especially with the contrasting blue background. 🙂


    August 22, 2012 at 6:21 AM

    • Thanks: I’ll take wispy whenever I can get it. I often use blue sky as a way of isolating a subject. That’s a handy device because we get a fair amount of blue sky here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 22, 2012 at 6:26 AM

  2. Beautiful details and colors!


    August 22, 2012 at 8:52 AM

  3. I had no idea there was a silverpuff and a dandelion. is there a way to tell the difference?

    Mind Margins/Run Nature

    August 22, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    • If you saw only the puffballs you’d have a hard time telling them apart, but the other parts of the plant differ. The bud of a dandelion doesn’t look like that of the silverpuff that you can see if you follow the first link in the text of the post. Dandelions have yellow-orange flowers, but compare those of silverpuff in the second link in the text. The plants’ leaves and flower stalks are different, too. And where silverpuff grows in only a few parts of the United States and of Texas, dandelions have conquered the world.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 22, 2012 at 4:00 PM

  4. Just came over to see what I’ve been missing–and, as usual, quite a lot! The photographs of the widow’s tear were fascinating. Great photos, as always.

    Susan Scheid

    August 22, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    • Thanks, Susan. Yes, the widow’s tear is something, isn’t it? I had fun with it. Just this morning I saw one of those flowers in the woods behind a construction site, so they’re still around.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 22, 2012 at 4:04 PM

  5. I read some of Bob Harms’ site, and really enjoyed the discussion about the “nodding” of the flower. It reminded me how often we used to speak of someone “nodding off”, and of course passing something off with “a wink and a nod”. It was amazing to see how closely the flower’s behavior has been studied.


    August 22, 2012 at 9:59 PM

    • Bob Harms has a rural property outside of Austin. For the past several years he has been observing various native species through the seasons and has learned a lot about them that isn’t in the standard guidebooks or, in some cases, even in the botanical literature. As for nodding, English-speaking botanists really do use that word, which corresponds to the Latin nutans in various scientific plant names. In fact the local species of silverpuff was once classified as Chaptalia nutans var. texana.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 22, 2012 at 10:25 PM

  6. I’m glad you gave us the links back so we who have not been blogging with you that long wouldn’t miss the drama of this lovely wildflower! Very nice.


    August 28, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    • I often provide links to earlier posts because I know that many current visitors won’t have seen them. It’s good to be able to compare stages in the life of a plant.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2012 at 8:24 PM

  7. […] annual saltmarsh aster or hierba del marrano, belongs to the sunflower family. Like many another member of that family, it produces seed heads in the form of puffballs like this one. You can also see here that even as […]

  8. […] artwork, part of my collaboration with wildflower photographer Steven Schwartzman. You can see his original photo which inspired this artwork […]

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