Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

White rock lettuce

with 16 comments

Cucumber Beetle on White Rock Lettuce Flower Head 3075

Here’s a species I’ve never showed in these pages till now: Pinaropappus roseus, known as white rock lettuce. I didn’t know why a botanist decided to call it rosy, unless the rose in question was a white one. That’s the only color (aside from the yellow at the center) that I’ve ever seen in one of these flower heads, but when I looked at the entry for this plant on the website of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center I found this: “It is said that the undersides of the petals are pink to rose-lavender and that the upper side is sometimes pale pink, which would agree with the pink dandelion name.” Next time I run across one of these flower heads, which I don’t often see, I’ll be sure to check the underside.

This photograph, like two of the last three you’ve seen, is from the Smith Memorial Trail in northwest Austin on April 29th. Also like those pictures, today’s includes an insect: this time it’s a spotted cucumber beetle, Diabrotica undecimpunctata. The species name is from Latin undecim ‘one [plus] ten, i.e. eleven’ and punctum ‘point, dot, spot.’ Notice how the yellow parts of the beetle match those at the center of the flower head.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 3, 2014 at 5:45 AM

16 Responses

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  1. But I can only see 9 spots!


    June 3, 2014 at 5:58 AM

    • I believe there are three spots hidden on the far side. You might say that would bring the total to twelve, but the two spots centered immediately behind the beetle’s head are partly fused, so the pair counts as only one spot. Thus are entomology and arithmetic reconciled.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 3, 2014 at 6:02 AM

  2. Not to be difficult, but even with the fused spots, I still see nine, which would be twelve. However! Look at this photo of the same species. It has eleven spots on its back (taking into account the fused spots). Might it be that we’re not seeing the spots on the far side? Or, maybe the number of spots is a natural variation among members of the species.

    In any event, the flower itself is gorgeous, and so unusual. It reminds me of Clematis drummondii .


    June 3, 2014 at 6:33 AM

    • With the fused spots counting as one, I make out eight spots in the photograph. As you surmised, there are three more that aren’t visible on the far side, for a total of eleven.

      I’d never thought of it, but I can see that the chaos of this flower head is akin to the disordered swirling of the strands in a seed head of Clematis drummondii. Another good connection.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 3, 2014 at 6:54 AM

  3. What a unique looking blossom!


    June 3, 2014 at 7:29 AM

  4. There’s old Charles (Darwin) … at it again … a bit of protective coloration going on? I can’t make out the thread-like structures … anthers, perhaps? Nice photo of an ‘unusual’ flower (sorry … charmingly bedraggled). D

    Pairodox Farm

    June 3, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    • Yes, I’m assuming the “threads” are stamens or anthers. Your reference to color is another incentive for me to check out one of these flower heads more closely.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 3, 2014 at 10:01 AM

  5. Interesting looking – great shot too!


    June 3, 2014 at 11:23 AM

  6. Stunning. 😀

    Raewyn's Photos

    June 3, 2014 at 1:42 PM

  7. […] my other blog recently I showed a photograph that included an eleven-spotted cucumber beetle, an insect to which entomologists have given the […]

  8. […] that white rock lettuce, and let us not whine about […]

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