Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Pearl milkweed flower

with 27 comments

Also within sight of the kidneywood and the tan fungus that I photographed in my neighborhood on the damp morning of October 10 was this flower of a pearl milkweed vine, Matelea reticulata. There are relatively few green flowers in the world, and far fewer (are there even any others?) that have what looks like a tiny pearl at their center, but this little wildflower, only about 2/3 of an inch across, fits the bill on both counts.

Marshall Enquist’s Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country gives the bloom period for the pearl milkweed vine as April to July, but an October photographer can be forgiven for quoting yet again the adage that plants don’t read field guides.


WordPress says that this is post number 600 in Portraits of Wildflowers. That’s 2 x 2 x 2 x 3 x 5 x 5. Woo woo, let’s hear it for numbers!


© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 24, 2012 at 6:09 AM

27 Responses

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  1. What an amazing looking flower!

    Anne Camille

    October 24, 2012 at 6:12 AM

    • We’re fortunate in Austin that these are fairly common, but my impression is that the general public isn’t aware of them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2012 at 6:19 AM

  2. Very nice, interesting flower.


    October 24, 2012 at 6:42 AM

    • For me, the reticulated patterns on the petals are as fascinating as the little pearl at the center.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2012 at 6:47 AM

  3. Congratulations on #600! WOW!!!


    October 24, 2012 at 7:15 AM

    • Thanks, Ken. Somehow you just reminded me of Ringo Starr’s exclamation at the end of “Helter Skelter”: “I got blisters on my fingers!” (A Wikipedia article says that came at the end of the 18th take of the song.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2012 at 7:23 AM

  4. Love all the milkweeds, but the tiny vining ones in particular. Maybe because they are so inobvious… Beautiful photo!!! As usual. Really enjoy your posts.

    Agnes Plutino

    October 24, 2012 at 7:44 AM

    • Thanks, Agnes. Of the viny milkweeds, this is the one I most often see. Only rarely have I come across Cynanchum and Funastrum, which I wish I could find more often.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2012 at 7:52 AM

  5. One word: earring! These little flowers certainly are gems!


    October 24, 2012 at 7:52 AM

    • I’d be happy if someone with jewelry skills could make earrings that look like these little flowers. Any takers?

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2012 at 7:54 AM

  6. Magnifique, on dirait un bijou avec une perle au milieu.


    October 24, 2012 at 8:00 AM

  7. …and before I saw the comment about earrings, I thought about what a gorgeous pin that would make! I love the delicate detail.

    Marcia Levy

    October 24, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    • Jewelry, here we come: I’m still hopeful someone with the requisite skill will follow up on this.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2012 at 6:39 PM

  8. […] the corner from the kidneywood, the tan fungus, and the pearl milkweed that you’ve seen in the last few posts, I spent some time photographing the flowers of this […]

  9. Very beautiful. The grooves at the base of each petal give the pearl the appearance of having been set.


    October 25, 2012 at 6:45 AM

  10. Cannot believe how much visual power is packed in a flower so small. (OK, I take that back: you’re constantly showing us this kind of visual power!)

    Susan Scheid

    October 26, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    • Can we adopt the slogan “Small is beautiful”? You’re right that I’ve shown plenty of diminutive beauties, something I’ve been able to do because there are so many of them. Once again I give credit to my 100mm macro lens for letting me see and record the details in these small things.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 26, 2012 at 7:05 PM

  11. […] spent pod of a milkweed vine. I’d say it was most likely Matelea reticulata, one of whose striking green flowers you saw last October, and a backlit leaf of which you saw in November. This is the first time here […]

  12. I’m still milling around among your past posts. I lik this plant.Really pretty photo. Do yo know if it is attractive to butterflies since it is in the milkweed family?


    April 1, 2013 at 9:37 AM

      • Thank you Steve.Great information. The native Antelope Milkweed is almost impossible to transplant but I understand that the roots or tubers or whatever they are called can be planted during the winter. Some were available here but I failed to get to the place that had them. Not sure if it was audubon or what group was selling them.

        I have the Mexican milkweed but there are lots of cons about the plant. However I don’t have a substitute and it will have to do until I can get the real deal/ I wonder if the seeds of this vine might come up in my area which is Mclennan county. I’m on the western edge near the Balcones fault line and it is rocky with cliche is most places. Maybe it would feel at home here. I need to see if I can talk to someone at :Lady BIrd Wildflower and find out all that I can about some of these plants that I would like to try growing.


        April 1, 2013 at 10:16 AM

        • I’m not at all a gardener, so your idea of checking with people who know about such things sounds like the way to go. Milkweeds propagate themselves with seeds, so maybe you can gather a bunch of them once the pods mature. I can report that antelope-horns plants in Austin are already flowering, though it’s still too early for pods.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 1, 2013 at 1:19 PM

          • Thanks. I have been thinking that I need to find some here and collect seeds in the fall. as far as the vione goes, I need to research to see it grows in my area.


            April 1, 2013 at 2:59 PM

  13. […] are two species of Matelea I’m familiar with from central Texas: the relatively rare plateau milkvine and the common pearl milkweed vine (whose flowers are quite uncommon in structure and […]

  14. […] walking along Bull Creek parallel to the east side of Loop 360 on August 8th I noticed a pearl milkweed vine (Matelea reticulata) with several pods, all of which had split open and were coming apart to […]

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