Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Everything comes to an end, but the end can last for a long time

with 22 comments

Basket-Flower Seed head Remains 4412

Click for better clarity and color.

The past four posts have shown you Centaurea americana in various stages. Now this last picture in the miniseries shows you the desiccated remains of a basket-flower seed head. This stage can endure for months, even through the winter and into the following year. The chaff that fills the “basket” remains softer than you might expect for something that’s dried out.

Date: June 13.  Place: a ditch on the east side of Burnet Rd. just south of the old Merrilltown Cemetery.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 16, 2013 at 6:12 AM

22 Responses

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  1. Here’s an unexpected memory. We usually had Sunday dinner with my grandparents in a little town about 30 miles from our home. One week, we arrived to find Grandma sitting on the porch talking with friends. Two of them were very old, very wrinkled. Apparently they scared me. I asked my dad, “Are they alive?” He assured me they were – they may have looked dead, but they were very much alive.

    I was so young I barely remember the incident, but it was one of those tales my folks told and retold. In her last couple of decades, Mom often would say, “Just remember – I may be drying out, but I’m still soft on the inside!” The analogy’s not perfect, but the memory’s as lovely as the basket-flower.


    June 16, 2013 at 7:14 AM

  2. Un portrait bien mis en valeur.


    June 17, 2013 at 1:17 AM

  3. This last gasp, still lovely.

    Mary Mageau

    June 17, 2013 at 2:33 AM

  4. I always love your series, and it is wonderful when the last stage can last as long as this, isn’t it?

    Susan Scheid

    June 22, 2013 at 10:51 AM

  5. The basket flower seed head reminds me of the dried artichoke head which I have in my garden each year. https://www.pikist.com/free-photo-ssiuo


    September 5, 2020 at 4:03 AM

    • That is quite a resemblance. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, given that botanists classify both the basket-flower and the artichoke in the thistle subfamily of the sunflower family.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 5, 2020 at 5:41 AM

      • Ah, I thought there might be some family connection but I didn’t have time to look it up. Thank you.


        September 5, 2020 at 6:42 AM

        • Some people used to refer to the basket-flower as “shaving brush,” presumably based on the dry stage shown in this post. And to give equal time to the female side, this wildflower was once also called “powder puff,” presumably based on the flowering stage. I wonder if anyone ever used either name for an artichoke.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 5, 2020 at 6:58 AM

          • Somebody came close: Wild relatives of the cultivated artichoke are common in Jordan and often have horrific prickles on the flower head three centimeters long. These discouraged me from testing the culinary value of the plant! When young, the flower heads of the wild artichoke resemble an old fashioned shaving brush giving it one of its common names in Arabic, “The donkey’s shaving brush” because of its armor. https://ww2.odu.edu/~lmusselm/plant/bible/thistles.php


            September 5, 2020 at 7:14 AM

            • How about that commonality in cultures so far apart.
              I like the sound of “thickets of thistles” in the article.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 5, 2020 at 8:53 AM

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