Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 11 comments

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Here’s another first in these pages: the flowers of kidneywood, Eysenhardtia texana, which, like poverty weed, grows as a bush or diminutive and delicate tree. Kidneywood flowers are individually small but quite fragrant. I experience their scent as “high pitched”; some people find it not particularly appealing.

Eysenhardtia texana grows in Mexico and the United States, where it is found only in Texas. For the distribution by county, you can consult the USDA map, which shows Travis County to be near the northeast corner of the species’ range. I photographed these two adjacent flower spikes in my Austin neighborhood on the overcast morning of October 10.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 21, 2012 at 6:15 AM

11 Responses

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  1. It’s a lovely plant. The stalks seem to be a little “woody” and stiff. I suppose that makes sense for something that can grow itself into a tree. The database mentioned it’s an “unarmed” plant. I’d never heard the term and it made me laugh – looking at the distribution, that plant may be the only thing along the border that isn’t armed. Of course, I figured it out – no thorns, spines, and so on. It’s still funny.


    October 21, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    • I’m used to the botanical sense of unarmed, but I can understand how you’d find the term strange when first encountering it. Your words are as funny as that usage: “the only thing along the border that isn’t armed.” You’re correct that the plant is woody, and for the reason you cited, namely that it can be a small tree.

      I’m glad that several kidneywoods planted themselves on the untended sides of some local streets that are the entryway to my neighborhood. When I see enough flower spikes on my daily ins and outs, I know it’s time to get the camera and make a stop.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 21, 2012 at 11:27 AM

  2. This is one pretty plant. I wonder if I could add it to my small collection of native plants and if it is attractive to butterflies. Also does it produce any berries that might attract birds? I tend to plant what will attract insects and birds. I am in central Texas about 100 or so miles north of Austin.


    October 21, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    • Where you are is about 50 miles north of the northern edge of kidneywood’s natural range, but I suspect you could cultivate it there. I don’t think the fruits are conspicuous, but it seems that everything gets eaten by some form of life. As for whether kidneywood’s flowers attracts insects, stay tuned for tomorrow morning’s post.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 21, 2012 at 1:40 PM

  3. […] toward the base. For other species the reverse is true. In the previous post, which showed you some kidneywood flowers, you may have noticed that a few of the flowers near the base looked as if they were just beginning […]

  4. So pretty! I would love to have this plant in the garden but I’m afraid it’s just not temperate enough up here in Pa. I know I’ve said it before, I just can’t get over the wonderful variety you have down there!


    October 22, 2012 at 8:54 AM

    • You’re right that kidneywood couldn’t take the cold of Pennsylvania. As for the variety that we have here in central Texas, there are still many native species that have never appeared in these pages, including some of the most common ones, even though this blog has been running for 16 months. You’re welcome to revel in our profusion all you want, especially when we still have plenty of flowers and yours have disappeared till next spring.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 22, 2012 at 9:05 AM

  5. […] sight of the kidneywood that I photographed in my neighborhood on October 10 was this tan fungus growing on a broken-off […]

  6. […] within sight of the kidneywood and the tan fungus that I photographed in my neighborhood on the damp morning of October 10 was […]

  7. […] the corner from the kidneywood, the tan fungus, and the pearl milkweed that you’ve seen in the last few posts, I spent some […]

  8. […] much closer look at the blossoms of this species in their prime, you’re welcome to check out a post from last October. If you’re interested in nature photography as a craft, you’ll find that points 9 and […]

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