Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Old man’s beard

with 21 comments

Clematis drummondii Mound of Fluff 3626

In the last post you read that Clematis drummondii has been called old man’s beard because of the fluff—often mounds of it—that the vine produces. Today’s picture is a corroboration of that name, but if you have a different imagination you’re free to see clouds in a chlorophyll sky. I found all this fluff on August 1st at the southeast corner of Burnet Rd. and Shoreline Dr. in far north Austin. That was across the street from the corner that hosted some dense mealy blue sage flowers in the spring, and in fact that sage colony is blooming again now.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 12, 2013 at 6:03 AM

21 Responses

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  1. What a carpet. Do they wither, dry, and remain attached? Or, do they detach and blow around?

    Jim in IA

    August 12, 2013 at 8:22 AM

  2. Am I in heaven?? so beautiful and fluffy.. I like it very much Steve.


    August 12, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    • It’s good to hear about your heavenly reaction, Chantal. This species has remained one of my favorites to see and photograph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2013 at 1:18 PM

  3. When the Cottonwood trees around here go to seed we have piles of the fluff all over looking similar to this.

    Steve Gingold

    August 12, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    • We get cottonwood fluff around here, too. (The Spanish name for the cottonwood tree is alamo, which you’ve no doubt heard of in another context). The main difference is that the Clematis fluff in the photograph is still attached, while cottonwood fluff on the ground is loose.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2013 at 2:51 PM

  4. Beautiful shot, Steve! And I love the idea of “clouds in a chlorophyll sky” – sounds like a title of a song 🙂


    August 12, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    • I made up the alliterative phrase, Lynn, and then it reminded me of the “tangerine trees and marmalade skies” of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” I suppose I could’ve been influenced, but if so it wasn’t conscious.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2013 at 5:15 PM

      • Oh, I assumed that you wrote it Steve! I was just impressed with its evocative sound; it could inspire a story or a song.


        August 12, 2013 at 5:18 PM

        • As far as I know I did create that phrase independently. You prompted me to do a search, and I found that a few people have used it elsewhere.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 12, 2013 at 7:01 PM

  5. If I’d seen this photo without any context I might have assumed it was a ditch filled with milkweed. The combination of brown seed and white fluff is just marvelous. There’s a certain resemblance to raw cotton still mixed with its seeds, too. So many similarities, and yet so different.


    August 12, 2013 at 10:09 PM

    • Those central brown seed cores distinguish this Clematis from a milkweed and create a distinctive appearance, at least among the native plants I’m familiar with. Living in Texas, I probably should know what “King Cotton” looks like, but I confess I don’t, so I’ll take your word for the resemblance. I’ve noticed how often nature reuses patterns, although often, as you point out, with differences as well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2013 at 11:13 PM

  6. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this plant. How interesting!

    George Weaver

    August 13, 2013 at 12:47 AM

    • You prompted me to look at the USDA distribution map and found that this species hasn’t been observed in Victoria County (which doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t there), but it is marked for Goliad County. It’s quite common in Austin and vicinity, so on your next trip to this area you can be on the lookout for it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 13, 2013 at 8:08 AM

  7. Looks like a cosy spot to lie down and have sweet summer dreams.

    Emily Heath

    August 13, 2013 at 1:29 AM

    • While old man’s beard fluff is soft in its own right, the problem is that lying on the ground in Texas exposes you to all sorts of prickly things. But you can dream…

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 13, 2013 at 8:10 AM

  8. Steve, I have been seeing these lovely white flowers springing up through the trees and shrubs all around where I live. The are found mostly in the woods and I wanted to find out what they were and how I could get my hands on one to plant up on the mountain. I finally figured out that they are Clematis Virginiana, and they are already growing in abundance up on the mountain, and right on the edge of my pond! The flowers are less than an inch, but borne in huge masses. I wonder if they will finish as beautifully as these?


    August 27, 2013 at 11:08 PM

    • I’ve read about Clematis virginiana but haven’t seen one (at least not knowingly). Let’s hope it puts on as good of a show for you as this species does for us in Texas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 27, 2013 at 11:32 PM

      • According to the USDA website you do have these in Texas. The leaves are different on the Clematis v. in that they are sets of three.


        August 29, 2013 at 5:55 AM

        • Last year I also checked the USDA map for that species because a commenter mentioned that he didn’t have Clematis drummondii in his part of the country and I wanted to see if there might be a similar species where he lived. I noticed that Clematis virginiana makes it into Texas, though not as far as Austin, and that’s why in my answer to you I wrote “at least not knowingly.”

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 29, 2013 at 7:01 AM

          • Yes, I was just reading that they like a location with more water.


            August 29, 2013 at 7:10 AM

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