Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Prairie parsley seeds and a bonus

with 12 comments

Prairie Parsley Seeds with Insect Egg 6028

Here’s a closer look at Polytaenia nuttallii, called prairie parsley, on a piece of the Blackland Prairie east of Interstate 35 in far north Austin on June 27th. In addition to all these seeds at the ends of umbelliferous stalks you get the pale ovoid insect egg on a threadlike stalk of its own at the top. I can’t identify the insect that produced the egg, but one group of insects whose members attach eggs on hairlike stalks like that is green lacewings.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 19, 2014 at 5:53 AM

12 Responses

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  1. Is this your first photo of eggs attached like this?


    July 19, 2014 at 6:18 AM

    • I’ve seen and photographed eggs on stalks several times, but I think this is the first photograph of any that I’ve shown here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 19, 2014 at 7:50 AM

  2. Que dire d’une photo aussi parfaite Steve…


    July 19, 2014 at 9:42 AM

  3. Thank you so much, Steve, for this great photo. I have a picture of this plant I took a year ago and didn’t have a clue as to what it was; now I can go label it.

    Didn’t know about the threadlike insect egg stalks at all. I usually don’t see anything so small with my naked eye unless I’ve seen it in a photo first. Macro helps a lot more than bifocals.. .

    Gena Fleming

    July 19, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    • You’re welcome, Gena. I’m glad yesterday’s and today’s pictures let you identify one more species. I’m still checking them off too, with many yet to go.

      Your last sentence echoes my experience: I see many more details through my macro lens than I can through my glasses (even with progressive lenses).

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 19, 2014 at 1:05 PM

  4. It’s a nice look at a low angle and the egg adds a bit of added interest. By any chance did you get a closer shot of just the egg and the upper leaf?

    Steve Gingold

    July 19, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    • Not on that occasion, I didn’t. The thingies are actually seeds, and they’re at most half an inch long, so to concentrate on the egg and get a decent picture I probably would’ve needed a longer extension tube than the 12mm one I have.

      It’s good of you to notice the angle from below: prairie parsley plants typically grow a few feet tall, so I was able to get under this one with just the usual amount of straining and contorting my body.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 19, 2014 at 4:43 PM

  5. Interesting perspective! I love the egg part, it is almost impossible to see it in nature so I’m happy you got such a close shot, is delightful!


    July 19, 2014 at 9:33 PM

    • When it comes to perspective, I often get low and look horizontally or, as here, upward. That egg is so tiny that it’s easy to miss, and that may provide an advantage for the insect-to-be.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 19, 2014 at 11:18 PM

  6. This still is one of my favorite prairie plants. I like the flowers, but the seeds are really attractive, too. They look almost like pumpkin seeds, or sunflower. I’ve never seen an egg-on-a-stalk. I’m not sure I ever would have imagined such a thing. It seems a little dangerous for it to just stick up into the air like that. But, as you point out, that very small size would require some very sharp eyes to even find it.


    July 20, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    • This is a plant that books typically describe as stout. I don’t think the public is much aware of it, but I agree with you that its flowers and seeds have their appeal.

      As for the egg-on-a-stalk, I expect there must be some advantage to that configuration, even perhaps against predators on a similarly small scale. I wonder if there’s something in or on the stalk that repels other insects.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 20, 2014 at 8:27 PM

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