Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The bur in buffalo bur

with 21 comments

Click for greater sharpness.

Click for greater sharpness.

Last June you saw a picture of Solanum rostratum, known as buffalo bur. The emphasis then was on the bright yellow flowers, but now it’s on the bur in buffalo* bur. Today’s photograph shows the spent remains of one of this plant’s fully open—and fully armed—seed capsules, which I found on February 1 within sight of the place where I photographed the milkweed fluff you saw in the last two posts. I sat on the ground for some time right next to this plant, which had dozens of dry seed heads like this one, and I came away not only with photographs but with some spine tips in my right leg. It’s one of the prices I pay for sharp pictures.


* As for the buffalo (or more correctly bison), those animals did once roam the hills and plains of Austin, but I’d need a very expensive camera with time machine functionality built in to take a picture of them in my neighborhood.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 14, 2013 at 6:19 AM

21 Responses

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  1. Great Macro.

    Ali Radwani

    February 14, 2013 at 6:52 AM

  2. The strong color in the sky really helps make the bur stand out. Nice picture


    February 14, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    • I’ll confess that the sky came out a little darker than it would naturally be, but it sure sets off the brighter spines.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2013 at 12:15 PM

  3. Un soleil piquant dans un ciel bleu profond. C’est magnifique.


    February 14, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    • Cette fois-ci ton imagination est plus vive que la mienne. Je n’aurais jamais pensé à un soleil avec les épines comme rayons.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2013 at 12:18 PM

  4. Ouch!


    February 14, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    • I felt it but didn’t say anything. The two “bites” on my leg lasted for several days.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2013 at 12:19 PM

      • Double ouch!


        February 14, 2013 at 12:43 PM

        • Double is still blessedly little. Once the chiggers come back out, bites can get counted into double digits.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 14, 2013 at 3:03 PM

          • Texans are tougher than the rest of us? Must be. Seems like running a gauntlet to be outside in nature. I love Austin and San Antonio but I’ve only ever been there in winter and spring, when it is absolutely lovely.


            February 14, 2013 at 5:12 PM

            • It’s a tradeoff. I’m originally from New York, but I never did well in the cold. The warm climate that I moved to in Texas suits me a lot better, but there are chiggers, prickly things, and allergens that I have to deal with. Everything has its price.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 14, 2013 at 5:22 PM

  5. I must write that you can make virtually anything look really good. Even those —- burs. And I loved your pun. Sharp points of the bur- sharp photos. You are a “whip” today.


    February 14, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    • So many things in nature do look good once a person takes a close—or should I say sharp?—look.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2013 at 3:01 PM

  6. Such a great photo of something that looks even more lethal than agarita and prickly pear. And it’s not the only native bur – the bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) lives here, too.

    I have a couple of caps from bur oak acorns I picked up in Council Grove, Kansas, under a registered tree with a “sprout date” of 1776. The tree was part of the grove that provided shelter and lumber for folks on the Santa Fe trail. It’s a little ragged now, but it’s still there!


    February 15, 2013 at 8:57 AM

    • Now I know why Council Grove is called Council Grove. It’s great that that oak is still there.

      The bur oak is certainly less bur-densome to skin than buffalo bur, but even that hasn’t generally gotten to me; this time was an exception, no doubt because I sat on the ground beside the plant. Of all the usual suspects, over the years the prickly pear has caused me the greatest grief, “thanks” to its glochids.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 15, 2013 at 9:36 AM

  7. I am just constantly stunned and amazed by seeds! Lovely image.


    February 15, 2013 at 12:09 PM

  8. […] get the partridge and the buffalo, but the doctor stymies […]

  9. […] asked about the seeds of this species. I haven’t posted a picture of the seeds per se, but here’s one that shows a spent seed capsule and its entourage of […]

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