Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Marsh fleabane colony gone to seed

with 8 comments

Pluchea odorata Colony Turned Fluffy 2690

Click for greater clarity and larger size.

One reason for Pluchea odorata to be called marsh fleabane is that it grows on marshy ground. I found this drying colony at Devine Lake Park in Leander on November 19, 2013. Monotone isn’t necessarily monotonous, but if you’d like a colorful reminder of what one of these plants looks like when fresh, you can take a look back at a post from the early months of this column.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 6, 2014 at 6:06 AM

8 Responses

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  1. It has a beauty of its own. I think it’s great to document all stages. That is why I also try to get the fruits (if I can), but it’s not easy with some species. The other day I was hesitant to post about Calopo (Calopogonium caeruleum), because I didn’t see the pods. Just the other day, I saw one full with pods, so varieties seem to behave differently, although with trees here in P.R., most everything is synchronised. Most tree species here bloom at the same time everywhere; yet with flowers the blooming rhythm is more gradually synchronising, rather than uniform.

    • I’m glad you’re with me in finding that the dry stages of plants have a beauty of their own. This species doesn’t produce fruit in the normal English sense of the word, but rather seeds attached to little feathery “parachutes,” as will be clearer in the next post.

      I checked out the Calopogonium caeruleum on your blog so I’d know what it looks like. The flowers make clear why botanists chose the epithet caeruleum, the source of Spanish cerúleo and English cerulean, and a relative of Spanish cielo.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 6, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      • That’s really interesting, because they are more blue than purple. When seen at a distance, for some reason this blue translates into a purple, lavender hue. Soon I will be posting the bloom with the pods. Apparently there are many variants with wildflowers. The plant without pods was in a drier area; whereas the one with pods apparently had more humidity so it had the pods. Trees do not do this. At least in this area, they all bloom and fruit at the same time, regardless of where they are.

        • In the Austin area I’ve observed that individuals in a species do things at approximately the same time, but with plenty of temporal variation. That variation gives me more time for photographs, because once I’m aware of a given phase, even if I find it waning in one place I can look for it somewhere else.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 6, 2014 at 1:11 PM

          • It also brings the term ‘microclimates’ to my attention. Perhaps plants are more vulnerable to them than trees, but I don’t know.

            • Actually the example I was thinking of was flameleaf sumac trees. Over the last few years I’ve noticed that the leaves of some individuals turn color a month or even six weeks after the leaves of others do, and the discrepancy has given me a comfortably large “window” through which to take pictures of that kind of fall foliage.

              Steve Schwartzman

              January 6, 2014 at 3:56 PM

  2. In only two or three days the cold and wind have stripped the trees of their leaves. In a gray, windy, leafless world, these remnants appear remarkably warm and soft. Compared to the vibrancy of summer, they’d seem dead and lifeless, but compared to a coastal winter, they’re lovely.


    January 6, 2014 at 9:01 PM

    • It’s looking bleak here now too and the temperature has been below freezing most of the day. The marsh fleabane, however dry, does indeed provide a warm and welcome look back at a more clement season.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 6, 2014 at 10:07 PM

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