Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Another arriviste

with 13 comments

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Another native species that’s good at taking over disturbed ground is Baccharis neglecta, which came to be known as poverty weed because it sprang up on abandoned properties during the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression during the 1930s.

This bush or small tree is delicate and can often be seen bending in the breeze, as here, or even more severely, as in a post a year ago. In the background of today’s picture you’ll notice more patches of the dense bitterweed that predominated in yesterday’s photograph. Like that one, today’s dates from October 5 at a field on E. Oltorf St. in southeast Austin.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 20, 2012 at 6:15 AM

13 Responses

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  1. What a lovely scene. Love how you’ve captured the flowers in the wind!


    October 20, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    • The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind—or at least these flower-filled branches were. Field guides sometimes describe this species as weak, and some people know it under the name false willow because of its supple, willowy nature.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 20, 2012 at 8:15 AM

  2. My grandmother who grew up in the San Antonio area always called this Roosevelt Weed. Perhaps because of its existence during the Depression. I think it’s a beautiful plant and reminds me of smoke.


    October 20, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    • I’ve read in books that this used to be called Roosevelt weed, but you’re the first person I’ve ever encountered who has a personal connection to that name. The plant also used to be known as New Deal weed. You are correct in thinking of it as smoke, which is the appearance that the plant has now, when it’s at its most plumy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 20, 2012 at 1:43 PM

  3. The name amuses me. I suppose bacchanals were somewhat neglected during the Depression – good that they had Baccharis neglecta to add some festivity to the fields!


    October 20, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    • According to my most authoritative source, Baccharis was indeed named after Bacchus, but no explanation is given to explain the connection. I haven’t found an explanation anywhere else, either. Maybe it takes the mental state brought on by a bacchanal to make sense of this.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 20, 2012 at 2:13 PM

      • Perhaps there’s a clue here, which is expanded upon here .


        October 20, 2012 at 2:51 PM

        • Good sleuthing. Perhaps the original Greek plant, which may not have been in the modern genus Baccharis, was used in ceremonies honoring Bacchus. I’ve never tasted the root of a poverty weed plant, but if I ever get the chance I will.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 20, 2012 at 2:58 PM

  4. Poverty weed – how fascinating…


    October 20, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    • Despite the name, there’s no poverty of attractiveness in this slender-branched bush in the fall.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 20, 2012 at 2:15 PM

  5. This post answered my question of whether the plant was a shrub. It appears to be one in this pic. When I first saw it blooming, I thought it was quite pretty.


    October 20, 2012 at 7:55 PM

  6. […] couple of weeks ago you saw some flowering poverty weed, Baccharis neglecta, both from afar and closer up. Now you get to see how the female flowers turn into silky tufts that in the 1800s […]

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