Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for June 14th, 2014

One strange flower

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Aristolochia erecta Flower 1578

I’ll bet most of you have never seen a wildflower like this little one. It’s Aristolochia erecta, called swanflower or grassleaf pipevine, and botanists place it in the Aristolochiaceae, or birthwort family. If you’re wondering about the common name of the family, the American Heritage Dictionary says that “the European species A. clematitis was used as a folk medicine to aid childbirth.” I wish it could help botanists give birth to technical names without as many vowels stacked up near the end as there are in Aristolochiaceae, where five of the last six letters are vowels.

Like the past six photographs, this one comes from an April 27th field trip led by botanist Bill Carr (who modestly has just one vowel in each of his names) to Bastrop State Park. Several species of swanflower grow in Travis County, where Austin is, but I think the only place I’ve ever seen one here is in a planter at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 14, 2014 at 5:48 AM

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