Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Purple leatherflower releasing its seeds

with 20 comments

Clematis pitcheri Core with Few Seeds Left 4509

Click for greater clarity.

And now here’s a look at a Clematis pitcheri, or purple leatherflower, at the stage where one of the vine’s drying seed cores has loosened its hold on many of its mature seeds and has left only a few still hanging on. Once again you’re welcome to compare this to the much more common Clematis drummondii when it’s at a similar stage.

This picture is the last you’ll be seeing from my visit to Hamilton Pool Preserve on August 19th. The photograph’s background color is from the Pedernales River, which this purple leatherflower vine overlooked from a bluff.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 19, 2013 at 1:06 PM

20 Responses

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  1. I love the shape of this, although it does slightly look like a spider 😉


    September 19, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    • I assume those long, curving strands are intended to act like hooks and catch on animal fur in order to be carried to distant locations. I didn’t think about this seed head looking spidery, but I can understand why you saw it that way. Other plants have reminded people of spiders, one of them being spiderwort and another clammyweed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 19, 2013 at 2:11 PM

      • Well I think the clammyweed is far too pretty to be classed a weed, but it does loom like Cleome hassleriana which is known as the spider flower. I don’t see a spider in either plant though!


        September 19, 2013 at 2:28 PM

        • er… look (I should stay off the wine until I have finished commenting)


          September 19, 2013 at 2:29 PM

        • Good of you to mention that Cleome is called spider flower, because clammyweed is in the same botanical family. The fact that the stamens are exserted (i.e. they extend well beyond the petals) is what caused some people to imagine they were seeing spiders’ legs.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 19, 2013 at 2:40 PM

  2. All of this Clematis loveliness is reminding me of C. durandii, a longtime favorite and not least of all because it was a particular distinction in our wedding bouquets since those all came from family gardens. 🙂


    September 19, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    • I looked up Clematis durandii and found it’s a cross between Clematis jackmanii and Clematis integrifolia. If I can go off on some non-botanical tangents, I’m reminded that Paul Durand-Ruel was an art dealer who supported the Impressionists. I’m also reminded that Asher Durand was an American painter of the Hudson River School. My father was fond of one of Durand’s paintings, “Kindred Spirits,” which showed painter Thomas Cole and poet William Cullen Bryant standing on a boulder in a scenic gorge. The painting hung for many years in the main branch of the New York Public Library, but in 2005 (four years after my father died) the New York Public Library found itself hard up for money and auctioned off the painting, much to the consternation of many New Yorkers. WalMart heiress Alice Walton bought “Kindred Spirits,” and the painting now hangs in the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. I hope to visit the museum, and from where you are it’s a comfortable day’s drive, so you may want to check it out too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 19, 2013 at 7:10 PM

      • Ahhhh. You, in turn, reminded me of my undergrad days and a favorite class: American art history, with 3 fellow students and the prof in total. He was a sweetheart of a just-about-to-retire teacher and took us 4 under his wing for the course. Since it was such a small group he assigned topics weekly and we each led the discussion of our own topics as they arose, and one of mine was the Hudson River School. Lovely stuff! Cole was one of my favorites. All of this, despite my original reluctance to take the course at all. Silly kid. Thank you so much for the info about Crystal Bridges; hope we’ll get a chance to visit there too!

        As for the Jackman relation, that doesn’t surprise me at all; they both have an attractively velvety depth of color and texture, though Durand tends toward the blue side of the violet range noticeably more than Jackman does, a characteristic that charmed me into buying and planting it originally, and it tends to throw four-petaled blooms quite often, also a bit less common among the Clematis I know. As I say, a sentimental love in any case!


        September 20, 2013 at 11:49 AM

        • And I, taking my one required art appreciation class in college, did a paper comparing the painting “The Oxbow” to a sculpture of a torso by Aristide Maillol. When I visited the Met last year I saw the painting again for the first time in decades.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 20, 2013 at 9:52 PM

  3. Surely this is not a flower but some sort of dormant creature just pretending to be a flower, lying in wait at the ready to pounce on unsuspecting passersby. Thank you in advance for the nightmares!!

    I don’t think I have seen these in my neighborhood. Someday I am just going to have to make a trip to the Big Metropolis of Austin. Someday.

    Very lovely1

    Office Diva

    September 19, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    • Your imaginative description reminds me of another wildflower that seems to me even more creature-ish, devil’s claw, which produces real hooks to latch onto passersby (one grabbed an ankle of mine when I was walking a few years ago). Happy nightmares, or nightmares squared.

      Leatherflowers aren’t common, at least not in central Texas, so it doesn’t surprise me that you’ve never seen one. As for the BMA (Big Metropolis of Austin), sure, you should visit here someday. Why wait?

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 19, 2013 at 10:25 PM

  4. This image looks appropriate for the name.

    Pamela Breitberg

    September 20, 2013 at 11:37 AM

  5. What a fabulous shape this is, Steve! Could be inspiration for the next sci fi movie face hugging monster!


    September 20, 2013 at 4:33 PM

  6. Until I looked at the photo of the more mature seed heads, I couldn’t “see” them in the previous photo. I only saw the tendrils. You affirmed what I thought – Clematis drummondii lets its seeds drift and blow, while these are made for grabbing on and being carried. I really do like these seeds. They look far more leathery than the flower.


    September 20, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    • Yes, C. drummondii seeds are born to blow, and I’ve occasionally seen them floating and spinning through the air. I rarely see leatherflowers, but everything points to the by-hook-or-by-crook method of dissemination.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 20, 2013 at 10:04 PM

  7. Always love your series! (Boy, and do I see that I’ve got far behind over here!)

    Susan Scheid

    September 30, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    • I appreciate your appreciating these series, Susan. One good thing about blog posts is that they stay up for people to read at any time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 30, 2013 at 9:11 PM

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