Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Something new under the sun after all

with 28 comments

Small Tan Snail on Firewheel Seed Head Remains 1491

The firewheel was dead: to begin with.* There is no doubt whatever about that. But the little snail had given this dry Gaillardia pulchella a new sort of life by anointing it with slime, some of which accounted for the firewheel’s glistening in a way I’d never seen. Now you get to see it too.

Like yesterday’s picture, today’s is from a July 19th session on a piece of the Blackland Prairie along Schultz Ln. in southern Round Rock.


* Bonus points to anyone who can identify what this is a parody of.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 25, 2013 at 6:13 AM

28 Responses

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  1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. “Marley was dead: to begin with.”


    August 25, 2013 at 6:47 AM

    • Happy bonus points to you. I hope your plants are as hardy as your knowledge of literature, especially if “returntothenatives” is a takeoff on The Return of the Native.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 25, 2013 at 8:31 AM

  2. Christmas Carol but I see someone has beat me. Great shot. The slime is actually pretty.

    Lisa Vankula-Donovan

    August 25, 2013 at 7:01 AM

    • You’ve come in second, Lisa. Your last sentence struck me as an original one, so I went to Google to see if anyone had written those words before. I found one example of “The slime is actually pretty good” and one of “The slime is actually pretty bad,” where pretty functions as an adverb, but none of exactly “The slime is actually pretty,” where pretty is an adjective. I think you deserve bonus points for a novel sentence.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 25, 2013 at 8:50 AM

      • Woo hoo! I win! 😉 And I’m surprised such a great sentence hasn’t been constructed before by say, Hemingway or something. Great minds and all…

        Lisa Vankula-Donovan

        August 25, 2013 at 8:58 AM

  3. I want a half bonus point for looking it up before checking the comments by return… and Lisa V-D.

    That’s a striking picture. I know, everybody has to eat. But, this fellow made a special point of going after this flower head. It must be very tasty and worth the effort.

    Jim in IA

    August 25, 2013 at 7:47 AM

    • Magnanimous me grants you half a bonus point, Jim.

      I know essentially nothing about snails, so it’s not clear to me if the snail was trying to eat the firewheel’s seed head or had just climbed the stalk in the way I’ve seen small snails in my part of the world climb all sorts of other stalks. In any case, I’m pleased that you find the picture striking. It was something new for me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 25, 2013 at 8:56 AM

  4. I’ve never seen a snail like this in our area. In fact, on his page about some Texas snails, Molluskman shows some Bulimulidae that can be found here, often on prairies or riverbanks. This one looks like the Striped Rabdotus, which has been found in Kerrville and the San Marcos river. If that’s what it is, it’s a native.


    August 25, 2013 at 8:07 AM

    • A website for Houston mollusks: who’d have thought there’d be such a thing?

      I don’t know that I’d ever seen a tan snail like this in my area, either. Thanks for sleuthing out the striped Rabdotus, which certainly looks similar to this one. Bonus points to any conchologist out there who can clinch the identification.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 25, 2013 at 9:04 AM

  5. Magnifique Photo Steve et merci pour le lien de la fleur de “Wolfberry”.


    August 25, 2013 at 11:12 AM

  6. An incredible shot!


    August 25, 2013 at 11:36 AM

  7. I knew it from the first phrase! Everyone else has already named it as Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but i really want to know, is that snail slime that’s glittering on the dried flower? Never seen it look so beautiful.


    August 25, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    • Yes, as far as I could tell, that was snail slime on the dried firewheel seed head. The way it glistened in the sunlight made it appeal to me, and I see to you too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 25, 2013 at 3:38 PM

  8. This is what happens when I take too long to get to my reader … first I miss the Jacob Marley reference, and at the same time I’ve missed the molluscan ID puzzle. I’m going to have to agree with shoreacres above that this certainly looks like the Striped Rabdotus (Rabdotus alternatus). I too, independently used Max Anton’s site to identify this species. Nice image, nice colors. D

    Pairodox Farm

    August 25, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    • Dude, this is one happening place! Sorry you missed a shot at identifying Marley, but thanks for giving a supporting vote for identifying the snail as Rabdotus alternatus. I’ll have a different sort of challenge tomorrow.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 25, 2013 at 6:50 PM

  9. Much as I hate slugs and slimy creatures, I hate even more to admit that this dazzling image couldn’t’ve happened without the snail’s invention. What a curmudgeon I am, hating like that! But I *do* admit this is one spectacular show that owes its very existence to a little slime-monster, and therefore I am willing to give a pass to the whole breed. For now. Thanks for catching the beautifying effect in action (however slow that action must have been!).


    August 26, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    • You may have been sluggish in coming to like these little creatures, but I’m glad this photograph helped you slide into an appreciation of them. As for the slowness of the anointing, you’re no doubt right. When I came upon the scene, the slime already covered parts of the firewheel seed head, and I saw no motion from the snail whatsoever during the minutes I spent photographing it. Whether it had finished or was going to resume, I have no idea.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 26, 2013 at 2:23 PM

  10. I have been so longing to get back over here to take a better look at what you’ve been up to. This one is beyond price!

    Susan Scheid

    August 28, 2013 at 9:09 PM

    • Welcome back, Susan, as your summer nears its end. Here in Texas the heat continues (I certainly felt it when I was out today). I’m glad you found Sir Snail priceless.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2013 at 9:56 PM

  11. It looks like the opening picture from a summer movie – something to do with the matt sky, the glistening slime plus the texture and colour of the snail. Kind of mesmerizing.

    The World Is My Cuttlefish

    September 11, 2013 at 5:41 AM

    • Now that’s a novel impression for someone to have had about this picture. Good for you. Do I get some of the royalties from the summer movie?

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 11, 2013 at 6:05 AM

  12. Reblogged this on Container Crazy Cathy T and commented:
    I just added Steven Schwartzman’s blog called, “Portraits of Wildflowers” to BLOGS I LIKE (side-bar menu). And with his permission, I’m reblogging this AMAAAAZING PHOTO of a snail he took on a flower bud. Mr. Schwartzman has contributed over 200 photos to the native plant database of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and this is only the tip of the iceberg of his contributions. Love his photography! Cathy T (Note: Please respond copyright notices, photos reblogged are the property of the originator.

    Cathy Testa

    September 30, 2013 at 11:49 AM

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