Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Sideoats grama seed stalk

with 27 comments

Spiderweb on Sideoats Grama Seed Stalk 0167

Last time you saw some flowering Bouteloua curtipendula, a native grass known as sideoats grama. Here’s a later stage showing not only the grass’s drying seeds but also a spider web that had pulled the normally erect stalk into a curve. The date was July 12th, and I found myself behind an office complex on the east side of Capital of Texas Highway in northwest Austin.

I didn’t mention it yesterday, but sideoats grama is the official state grass of Texas. Why a state needs an official grass—much less a state molecule—I have no idea, but then the number of things I don’t understand will always be much greater than the number of things I do. In fact the older I’ve gotten, the more the gap has widened. So much for progress.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 2, 2013 at 6:05 AM

27 Responses

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  1. //the number of things I don’t understand will always be much greater than the number of things I do//
    Love it, and totally agree 🙂
    Love the photo too, nice curve.


    August 2, 2013 at 6:30 AM

    • Thanks for appreciating my bit of philosophizing, and the photo as well. I could say that curves make the world go ’round, but I wouldn’t say such a thing, except that I just did.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2013 at 6:46 AM

  2. I think if we allow ourselves – we can learn something everyday. Love this shot


    August 2, 2013 at 6:56 AM

    • I’m with you, Nora, when it comes to learning new things every day. So far this morning, among other things, I’ve found out that there was a dispute over who wrote “‘Twas the night before Christmas”; that King Louis XIV was secretly married to Madame de Maintenon; and that the word anapest can also be spelled anapaest (the third of those things led to the first). My knowledge always increases, but my understanding of people doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere. Nature photography is a lot easier.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2013 at 7:11 AM

  3. It’s wonderful that you were able to capture not only the thickest part of the web, but even the single anchor strands. And that background color! What is it?

    I enjoyed looking through the list of state this-and-that from the link you provided for the grass. In the “this is not a joke” category, I still laugh at the Iowa legislature and their search for a state symbol to replace the interstate highway interchange. They wanted to acknowledge both traditional agriculture and emerging technologies, so one of their number suggested the Corn Chip. Even at the time, I wasn’t sure he was serious, but he might have been.


    August 2, 2013 at 7:19 AM

    • This kind of web has the photographic advantage of lying largely in a plane, so I could get many parts in focus at the same time. The background color came from plants farther away (I aimed horizontally), but specifically what they were I don’t remember.

      Your anecdote about the corn chip is funny. In Texas it might have been the cow chip.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2013 at 8:32 AM

  4. This is a great illustration of how some spiders are not as bright as others. This web is a refugium, probably for a yellow sac spider (Cheiracanthium inclusum). The dense portion of the web is actually a small chamber where the spider resides for protection from wasps. All the strands leading from the chamber are intended to pull the plant around the chamber to give the chamber extra protection via the surface of the plant. This choice of plant didn’t work out so well for the spider.

    • Thanks as always, Joe, for your detailed information of the arachno kind. I never did see the spider that made this web, because it was either temporarily away or permanently gone.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2013 at 9:09 AM

  5. Having a state grass came in handy for me years ago when I lived in a different house. There was a big slope on the west side of the front and I removed all the hated bermuda grass from the entire front yard, put in buffalo grass, separated the slope area with edging and planted it in native grasses and wildflowers. It was great. Everybody loved it but the city code enforcement people, who sent me a letter claiming I had tall weeds in the front that needed to be cut down and/or removed. I pointed out that the area in question was a native plants flower bed and that the “weeds” included the Texas state grass, and did they really want me to remove the Texas state grass? Never heard back from them. Heh. Sadly, the new owners of the house got rid of everything and planted St. Augustine with standard clipped green blocks along the foundation. I never drive by there if I can help it. Too depressing.


    August 2, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    • If having a state something-or-other can help out the way it did in your case, then there’s at least one reason to tolerate the designation. I heard a similar story about some authority wanting a homeowner to get rid of certain plants, at least until it was pointed out that they were bluebonnets, the official state flower. I think it’s safe to say that those of us who appreciate native plants will always be in the (small) minority. It’s an old story, and I’m reconciled to that fact that most of my likes aren’t shared by most other people.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2013 at 9:16 AM

      • It is a slow burn, but there are more of us than you think… and many are being handed notices to “clean up”. Some have been taken to court, some have had the city come in and “clean up” for them, with the end result being that their yards were scalped!

        It is changing, but it is taking a long time for people in city hall to “get it”.


        August 6, 2013 at 5:35 AM

  6. Très joli avec la toile d’araignée qui suit le mouvement des tiges. C’est un genre d’avoine Steve? j’ai cherché pour le nom vernaculaire en français mais je ne l’ai bien sur pas trouvé car j’ai vu que c’était une plante du Texas.


    August 2, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    • Voici des renseignements là-dessus, Chantal:


      Et voici la classification de cette espèce:

      Kingdom Plantae – Plants
      Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
      Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
      Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
      Class Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
      Subclass Commelinidae
      Order Cyperales
      Family Poaceae – Grass family
      Genus Bouteloua Lag. – grama
      Species Bouteloua curtipendula (Michx.) Torr. – sideoats grama

      L’avoine, Avena sativa, appartient à un autre genre des Poaceae.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2013 at 1:38 PM

      • Merci beaucoup Steve pour ta réponse, j’ai été voir le lien et je me sens plus instruite ce soir…


        August 2, 2013 at 4:01 PM

  7. Dried plants don’t get enough love, Steve. I like this sere stalk and the webbing adds another level of story.

    Steve Gingold

    August 2, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    • As you’ve seen, Steve, dried plants get their due here, or at least some of it. I’ve long been fascinated by the shapes some plants take on when they dry out, so I’ve made sure to give them a seat at the blogging table.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2013 at 4:31 PM

  8. Marvelous photo, Steve; I love the simplicity of the shape and colors.


    August 2, 2013 at 9:13 PM

  9. The curiosity of a humble soul always makes life to be more meaningful…


    August 3, 2013 at 6:44 AM

  10. You make me smile, Steve.


    August 3, 2013 at 8:06 AM

  11. I certainly agree with you about the number of things I don’t understand! This is a nice shot; the curve and spider web are great elements. The grass looks similar to what we call brome grass here. Cheers!


    August 3, 2013 at 12:17 PM

  12. So elegant!

    Susan Scheid

    August 28, 2013 at 9:14 PM

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