Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Marsh fleabane: a closer look

with 6 comments

Pluchea odorata Turned Fluffy 2720

Click for more clarity.

In the last post you saw a drying colony of marsh fleabane, Pluchea odorata, at Devine Lake Park in Leander on November 19, 2013. Here’s a much closer look at a single one of those plants. The gone-to-seed fuzziness is typical of many species in the Asteraceae, the huge botanical family that includes sunflowers, daisies, asters, and many plants whose flowers don’t look like those better-known ones.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 6, 2014 at 1:04 PM

6 Responses

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  1. Spectacular! The detail is amazing. I see this as the gift from nature, the culmination process; yet the flowering stage is what seems to grab people the most.

    • I appreciate your enthusiasm, Maria, for these late stages. Without them, of course, there would be no continuity of species (except for those that can propagate new individuals from runners, shoots, and the like). Still, as you say, it’s the flowering stage that grabs most of the attention, like beautiful young movie stars.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 6, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      • When you see all the connotations “blooming” has: Merriam Webster has in #2 (a) ‘a state or time of beauty, freshness and vigour’, and (b) ‘a state or time of high development or achievement’, it’s not only the colour and fragrance that accompanies blooming; it’s the subliminal connotations given by society that don’t even have to do anything with flowers but the meaning of the word. Nevertheless ‘withering’ is most always thought of in the context of flowers, though it’s used with objects and verbs for non flower objects and actions.

        • It’s good of you to point out how English has extended the meaning of bloom beyond the world of botany to include notions of prosperity—I almost wrote “the notion of things flourishing,” but that would be circular, given that flourish comes from flower.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 6, 2014 at 3:49 PM

  2. After all this time, a positive ID. This little gem has to be the plant that sends its seeds to settle in my varnish during the fall. I’ve slowly been eliminating one plant after another – dandelion, cattail, milkweed and so on – and now I’m just sure this is it. Because the individual seeds are so small and light, they’re no problem to wipe away once the varnish is dry, but occasionally an entire cloud of them will come floating by. It’s quite remarkable – I never see them until they’ve settled out of the air.

    shoreacres

    January 6, 2014 at 9:08 PM

    • That could well be it, because marsh fleabane is native in your area and you certainly have plenty of marshy ground near the coast. One way to test your identification would be to keep some of the seeds and see if you can germinate them, providing the varnish doesn’t interfere with the seeds’ normal development—or maybe you can succeed (contrary to precedent) in grabbing one of those seed clouds before it lands on a varnish-coated surface.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 6, 2014 at 10:13 PM


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