Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Mexican hat with a curious loop

with 10 comments

Mexican Hat Seed Head Remains with Looped Stem 8351A

Do you remember what a Mexican hat, Ratibida columnifera, looks like? If not, you’re welcome to look back at a fresh one flowering. In the dry state shown in today’s post, not much remains of the hat or the outer part of its column, but the stalk calls unusual attention to itself by the curious way it formed a tight loop and then a broad arc that together rotated the head more than 360° with respect to the approximately vertical part coming up from the ground.

As was true for the photograph of flameleaf sumac in the previous post, the date was December 17th, 2013, and the place was the right-of-way beneath the power lines to the west of Morado Circle in my Great Hills neighborhood.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 1, 2014 at 6:00 AM

10 Responses

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  1. The USDA map in the linked post shows them very wide-spread. I thought they looked familiar.

    I like the curl. The remnants look completely spent.

    Jim in IA

    February 1, 2014 at 7:48 AM

    • It was a surprise to me, too, to see how far-flung this species is across North America. It’s a hardy species, and I saw some flowering on the side of the US 183 freeway in December right up to the first sustained freeze (I’d intended to photograph them but the freeze got there first). Even after the flowers are long gone, it’s common to see seed heads in various stages of decomposition, like ruined buildings.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 1, 2014 at 8:06 AM

  2. Lots of impact against the blue


    February 1, 2014 at 7:54 AM

    • Long-time visitors to these pages have seen plenty of blue skies here, as I often get down low and aim upward to isolate my subjects. In this case I wanted nothing to detract from the unusually looped stalk, and the blue had the added effect of contrasting nicely with the tan and brown of the plant.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 1, 2014 at 8:13 AM

  3. This sort of photograph always leaves me wondering about the forces shaping the final appearance. As Blake put it, “What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?” More appropriate for a tiger lily than a Mexican hat, perhaps, but it’s still nice to have the poem brought to mind.


    February 1, 2014 at 10:08 AM

  4. what an amazing find.
    I need a hat like this.


    February 1, 2014 at 7:47 PM

  5. L’art de la Nature dans toute sa perfection! j’avais oublié de te dire que j’avais apprécié les quelques vers de Verlaine c’est un poète que j’aime beaucoup!
    bon dimanche Steve


    February 2, 2014 at 5:42 AM

    • L’on pourrait dire que c’est la perfection de ce qui n’est plus parfait.

      Vive Verlaine, bien qu’il soit mort.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 2, 2014 at 6:26 AM

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