Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Clammyweed buds opening

with 10 comments

Clammyweed Buds Opening 2285

In the first month of this blog I showed the flowers of clammyweed, Polanisia dodecandra ssp. trachysperma. On September 17 of 2012, a year ago today, and in a different part of my northwestern Austin neighborhood from the one I’d visited in 2011, I photographed some buds of this species opening into flowers.

If you’re wondering about the red things that look like maraschino cherry halves, here’s what Ellen D. Schulz wrote in her 1929 book Texas Wild Flowers: “The flower has an unusual appendage in the form of a red gland at the base of its petals.” Now you know.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 17, 2013 at 6:14 AM

10 Responses

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  1. I think after a hundred visits I’d still be asking, “What is it?” Of all your offerings, this seems to me one of the strangest. It turns out rather nicely in the end, but my goodness… Are those “maraschino cherry” glands the source of the goo you mentioned in the other post? I suspect so.

    I like being interested by quirkiness as much as being awed by beauty, and this one does the trick quite nicely.


    September 17, 2013 at 7:11 AM

    • Long live strangity (I wanted an unusual word that would reflect the concept). I’m not sure that the red glands are the source of the gooeyness, because I seem to remember that parts of the plant not near any of the glands also feel “clammy,” but I could be wrong. I’ll try to remember to investigate the next time I’m near one of these.

      This is yet another of the many plants with “weed” in their common name, but it’s a fascinating “weed,” full of little wonders.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2013 at 7:27 AM

    • I’ve confirmed in several sources that the “clamminess” comes from glandular hairs on the stems and foliage, not from the “maraschino cherries.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2013 at 9:28 AM

  2. I’ve never seen that name or plant before. No reports of it in eastern IA. Some western counties do have it. I wonder what the red gland does for the plant. Any ideas?

    Jim in IA

    September 17, 2013 at 8:25 AM

    • Perhaps when you travel to western Iowa you’ll see one of these. I’m afraid I don’t know what the prominent red gland does, and none of my casual looking in books has turned up anything.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2013 at 9:26 AM

  3. While not nearly so cuddly a name as the Least Skipperling, Clammyweed’s designation suits it well for, say, an undead creature’s garden–also an admirable status in my book. It should probably *look* a lot more decrepit and dangerous to fully occupy such a role, but I’ll happily settle for its actual beauty. Very dainty, this one. [Maybe it’s more of the Black Widow ilk, appearing quite delicate and sweet but having a dark heart! 😉 ]


    September 17, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    • What? Clammyweed not cuddly? Oh well, I guess you’re right, as most folks see things. I hadn’t thought about the undead, except that’s the way I sometimes end up feeling after a few hours of tramping around in the summer heat. I’ll add that clammyweed has a noticeable odor that some people think unpleasant but that’s okay with me. I’ll also add that this plant is a relative of the capers that some people are fond of eating. And I guess people don’t cuddle capers, either.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2013 at 12:27 PM

  4. Ah, now we know! Somehow I never think of a plant having glands, but of course they do. This is a plant I am not familiar with. I so enjoy your posts!


    September 17, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    • When I began looking at the native plants of my area 14 years ago, I knew essentially nothing about them. There was and still is so much to learn, and that’s okay because learning is one of the great joys of life. I’m happy to be able to pass on some of the things I’ve found.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 18, 2013 at 6:15 AM

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