Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Dry sunflower with sinuous stalk

with 12 comments

Dry Sunflower Seed Head on Sinuous Stalk 3142

This latest entry in the give-dry-plants-their-due series* shows a sunflower, Helianthus annuus, at the Riata Trace Pond in northwest Austin on July 30. It was the undulating stalk that drew my attention because I don’t know if I’d ever seen that feature in sunflowers themselves the way I have in some other members of the sunflower family.


* The give-dry-plants-their-due series, admittedly intermittent, shows no signs of drying up. In fact tomorrow’s post will feature a whole colony of dry plants, and individual ones will play minor roles in the two posts after that. Desiccated plants needn’t be a dry subject at all.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 23, 2013 at 6:12 AM

12 Responses

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  1. Looks like you got that out of focus little cloud right behind the stalk. Well done. I have a volunteer sunflower growing next to my pole beans. It didn’t get very tall before it started to dry up. The birds will soon do short work on the seeds.

    Even though old and dried up, still a thing of beauty. There is hope for us all. Thanks for another good shot. Have an interesting day.

    Jim in IA

    August 23, 2013 at 7:10 AM

    • Yes, I did my best to align the dry sunflower with the cloud to highlight the bend in the stem. Unlike the seeds of your sunflower, these were long gone by the time I came upon the scene.

      It was Keats who wrote a poem beginning with the words

      “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever”

      and ending with

      “… that I may speed
      Easily onward, thorough flowers and weed.”

      The full text of the poem is at:


      Steve Schwartzman

      August 23, 2013 at 8:48 AM

  2. I would say, ‘aw, dry up!’–but I don’t want you to, since I’m equally enamored of desiccated beauties. Lovely shot.


    August 23, 2013 at 12:24 PM

  3. Kind of little shop of horror-y.

    Mad Queen Linda

    August 23, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    • I wouldn’t have thought about horror-y here, but the previous post dealt with what botanists used to call Lantana horrida.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 23, 2013 at 2:45 PM

  4. Dried plants offer all kinds of character and assume so many interesting shapes as they go sere. Well done, Steve.

    Steve Gingold

    August 23, 2013 at 2:42 PM

  5. Many of your images call to mind Georgia O’Keeffe’s artistry with flowers, but this one brings her to mind in a different way. In a catalogue for one of her exhibits, she was quoted as saying “When I paint a red hill, you say it is too bad that I don’t always paint flowers. A flower touches almost everyone’s heart. A red hill doesn’t touch everyone’s heart.”

    I suspect these dessicated blooms don’t touch everyone’s heart, either, but they have so much to offer, and you always capture them wonderfully well.

    If I could swerve into an almost-entirely unrelated area, the sinuous nature of the stalk reminded me of the sinuous human chain that wound across the Baltic region on this day in 1989 – The Baltic Way. I thought you’d enjoy the video footage.


    August 23, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    • You’re right that these desiccated flowers don’t touch everyone’s heart, as confirmed even by the rough measure of “likes,” of which yesterday’s swallowtail on lantana gathered twice as many. But life comprises the fresh and the dry, and although I favor the one I’m careful not to slight the other. Georgia O’Keeffe’s red hill is my dried-out sunflower. (Thanks for that quotation of hers.)

      In a television documentary last year about Estonia I heard about The Baltic Way. Suddenly the name reminds me of Monopoly, which I played a lot as a child. I’ve never made it to the Baltic, but I have swum in the Mediterranean, so grant me half a monopoly.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 23, 2013 at 8:56 PM

  6. It looks like a dragon!
    (I like dragons, BTW)


    August 24, 2013 at 6:13 PM

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