Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Poverty weed’s gestalt

with 6 comments

Poverty Weed Putting on New Leaves 8781

Click for greater clarity.

Most of the appearances in these pages of poverty weed, Baccharis neglecta, have highlighted the flowers and tufts and fluff that grace our central Texas autumns. Now, with the last picture and this one, both from the spring, you should be getting a feel for the gestalt* of poverty weed as it looks most of the year, when it’s not putting on its special show. Particularly distinctive is the herringbone pattern of the bush’s slender branches, which you can make out in both photographs.

Like the previous photograph, this one comes from a February 21st session on the prairie in northeast Austin. The background looks so different here because I was aiming in the opposite direction, toward a section of sky that had no clouds in it; what a difference a point of view can make, no? Either way, the advent of spring was prompting new leaves to come out on all of the many poverty weed bushes that had sprung up in the area.


* Here’s the definition of gestalt given in the American Heritage Dictionary: “A physical, biological, psychological, or symbolic configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that its properties cannot be derived from a simple summation of its parts.” Merriam-Webster says this: “a structure, configuration, or pattern of physical, biological, or psychological phenomena so integrated as to constitute a functional unit with properties not derivable by summation of its parts.”

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 4, 2013 at 1:07 PM

6 Responses

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  1. Marvelous word, “gestalt”. There is no word like it in English, so we had to borrow the German.


    March 5, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    • It is a great word. Some years ago I heard a botanist use it in connection with recognizing native plants, and the connection has remained with me ever since. It’s fair to say that gestalt has become a part of our Zeitgeist.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 5, 2013 at 1:49 PM

  2. Love to think of poverty weed as having a gestalt! Great photos, as always.

    Susan Scheid

    March 5, 2013 at 10:19 PM

    • Like the questioning “Got milk?” ad campaign, maybe we can start an affirmative one to “Get gestalt.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 5, 2013 at 10:39 PM

  3. […] also make out some dried remains of the same at the lower left. The slender, leafy bush is a young poverty weed (Baccharis neglecta). None of these species is aquatic or even needs to be near a body of water, […]

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