Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A better look at poverty weed

with 13 comments

Poverty Weed Turning Fluffy 3647

Click for better clarity.

Last time, when you saw the flowering Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin, the poverty weed played a supporting role in the background. Now here’s a less neglectful look at Baccharis neglecta. The branches of this shrub or small tree are slender and rather weak, so they tend to bow under their own weight and to be easily blown about by the wind; even when fluffy poverty weed branches aren’t blowing, they often look like they are.

As with yesterday’s picture, the location was the land at the northwestern corner of McCallen Pass and E. Parmer Ln., but this time the date was October 22. Two years ago, from this same property, I showed a slender poverty weed strongly blown sideways by the wind.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 15, 2013 at 6:00 AM

13 Responses

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  1. So, it is a shrub type of vegetation. Right? The stem and branches remain year to year. Does it like moist or dry conditions best?

    Jim in IA

    November 15, 2013 at 6:26 AM

    • Yes, it ranges in size from a shrub to a delicate tree with maximum height about 3 m (10 ft.). According to the Wasowskis in Native Texas Plants: “It’s extremely drought-tolerant and grows in calcareous or salty soils….” It came to be known as poverty weed when it sprang up in quantity on ravaged and abandoned farms in the Great Plains during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 15, 2013 at 6:52 AM

      • That is a good name for it.

        Jim in IA

        November 15, 2013 at 6:55 AM

        • People didn’t stop there: they also called it Depression weed, Roosevelt weed, and New Deal weed. For me it’s no weed at all, but a delight to see and photograph every October and November.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 15, 2013 at 7:00 AM

  2. This is fascinating, and I specially like the previous image also in the wind. I also see these shrubs (not the same kind though), and I have a drive to learn more about them. Nevertheless I’ve been getting caught up with the tiny weedy flowers which require so much DOF. Today I got ‘Alyce Clover’, it’s hardly 3/8″ long. I’m leaning towards getting the 6D full frame.

    M. Firpi

    November 15, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    • When you say that you also see these shrubs, but not the same kind, do you mean that you have a different species of Baccharis where you are? Last week, on a trip that took me through eastern Oklahoma and northeast Texas, I saw Baccharis halimifolia for the first time; it turns as fluffy as the species that’s so common in Austin.

      When I use my full-frame, I miss the ability to get as close with my macro and telephoto lenses as I used to with my cropped-sensor cameras.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 15, 2013 at 7:47 PM

      • No, I mean shrubs such as Leucaena (The Leadtree), which become trees also. Leucaena is all over the San Juan area, and now I’ve seen huge trees from it. They have no ornamental value and are destroyed if needed. Yet in two-three years they grow huge and I mean at least 30 ft. high. I’ve yet to see Baccharis here.

        I don’t know how I will react with a full frame after using a 1.6x for so long. I’m really doing it for the low light capabilities it has. I still plan to upgrade the Rebels and use them as needed also. Their sensors are basically the same as the 7D’s and now the 70D.

        M. Firpi

        November 15, 2013 at 8:01 PM

        • I still have my 7D and occasionally use it when I need extra reach.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 15, 2013 at 8:30 PM

          • I love the size of the Rebels but unfortunately they’re not weather sealed, so I have to treat them more gently. I hope I make the right choice with the 6D.

            M. Firpi

            November 15, 2013 at 8:34 PM

            • ¡Ojalá!

              Steve Schwartzman

              November 15, 2013 at 8:38 PM

              • The 70D was the other prospect; and it’s weather sealed too. But I need a compact DSLR too; and that for me is the Rebel. The 6D is the lightest full frame in existence today, it’s very similar in weight and shape as the 60D and 70D for that effect.

                M. Firpi

                November 15, 2013 at 8:45 PM

  3. The poverty weed does tend to turn you poetic and alliterative. Perhaps it’s the flexibility of the willowy plant that leads toward flexible language. In any event, it’s beautiful, and becoming one of my fall favorites.


    November 16, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    • I’m pleased to have recruited you into the ranks of poverty weed appreciators. I look forward to the fluff of these willowy bushes each fall, even if many other people consider them weeds. Long live the poetry of poverty weed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 16, 2013 at 7:54 PM

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