Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Matelea cynanchoides

with 24 comments

Matelea cynanchoides Flowers 1581

There are two species of Matelea I’m familiar with from central Texas: the relatively rare plateau milkvine and the common pearl milkweed vine (whose flowers are quite uncommon in structure and ornamentation: take a look if you haven’t seen that species before, and if you like the first view of it here’s a second one from a different angle and with the addition of a visitor). After an April 27th field trip to Bastrop State Park led by botanist Bill Carr, I could count M. cynanchoides, or prairie milkvine, among the Matelea species I’d seen. As shown here, the flowers of this species occur mostly in pairs.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that points 1, 2, 6, 7 and 20 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 12, 2014 at 6:02 AM

24 Responses

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  1. These are astonishingly beautiful. My very first thought before getting to the text was, “These would make a beautiful pair of earrings, too.” Lo and behold, they’re related to my other favorite “jewels,” the pearl milkweed. The faintly blue-green background sets them off so well. The photo has a nice, cool feel to it — much appreciated these days.


    June 12, 2014 at 6:37 AM

    • I think the fact that these flowers appear as a pair reminded you of your earring idea about the pearl milkweed. No pearls here, I’m afraid.

      This photograph comes from the first half of the field trip, when the sky was overcast, and that accounts for the coolness you sense. Later the sun came out (at least partly), as will be apparent in some of the pictures you’ll eventually see from later in the day. (The weather forecast for today in Austin includes a high temperature that will feel close to 100°, thanks to high humidity).

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 12, 2014 at 6:58 AM

    • That was my first thought too; a beautiful pair of earrings!


      June 14, 2014 at 6:17 AM

      • I think viewers with two X chromosomes saw it that way more often than the XX-chromosome-deprived half of the population. (See, I got some arithmetic in after all.)

        Steve Schwartzman

        June 14, 2014 at 6:59 AM

  2. Both species links went to the same url for pearl. I like the reticulated petals.

    Jim in IA

    June 12, 2014 at 7:14 AM

    • Thanks for pointing out the bad link, which I’ve fixed.

      I like the word reticulated; too bad it’s not used more often. Maybe we can get people of a certain age to replace every fourth like with reticulated. It wouldn’t make any sense that way, but then neither does the gratuitous like.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 12, 2014 at 7:25 AM

      • Only every fourth one? Sounds ok by me. I reticulate the idea.

        Jim in IA

        June 12, 2014 at 9:06 AM

        • Any more than that and I think they’d consider it cruel and unusual punishment.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 12, 2014 at 9:13 AM

          • It might require some extra thinking and counting. I wouldn’t expect it to work. (he says sarcastically)

            Jim in IA

            June 12, 2014 at 9:43 AM

  3. great bokeh


    June 12, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    • I’m glad you find it effective here. Because of the low light from the cloudy morning I found myself using the lens wide open at f/2.8 and working to keep the centers of the two flowers in focus; that meant that nothing else would come out in focus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 12, 2014 at 8:49 AM

  4. Reticulate, man!


    June 12, 2014 at 9:15 AM

  5. fantastic shot and flower


    June 12, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    • Thanks, Mitza. I’m always happy when I get the chance to photograph native plants that are new to me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 12, 2014 at 12:00 PM

  6. Those are lovely flowers. Are they fully open in this picture?

    Steve Gingold

    June 12, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    • That was the one and only time I’ve seen this species, so I couldn’t answer your question from personal experience. In checking other photographs online, all the prairie milkvine flowers I looked at were open about as much as the ones shown here, so I’m guessing that’s the extent of their opening.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 12, 2014 at 6:25 PM

  7. Steve, don’t forget the other matela you know–bicolor, which this one closely resembles. I was lucky enough to spend a couple of mornings with Bill Carr in Bastrop State Park recently, and it is such a kick finding so many species new to me, so close to home! Many of the familiar genera, but different species. I’m really enjoying your series of photos on your trip out there.

    Diane Sherrill

    June 13, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    • I’d forgotten about Matelea biflora, a species I’ve seen in books but almost never in real life, even though it grows in central Texas. Let’s hope I run into some soon, even though I have no way of summoning it up.

      I’m glad you had an experience with Bill Carr similar to mine. By the time I’m finished I’ll have done about three weeks of posts Based on the Bastrop field trip.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 13, 2014 at 12:18 PM

  8. Beautiful centres!

    • It was those centers that I focused on because there wasn’t enough light to get everything sharp. In any case, as you saw, they’re the most distinctive part.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 13, 2014 at 4:48 PM

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