Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The poverty weed was pretty good this year too

with 20 comments

Poverty Weed with Fluff Blowing 2659

It was Halloween afternoon, and the breeze that had come in with the cold front overnight caused the poverty weed (Baccharis neglecta) to release bits of seed-bearing fluff with each gust. Photographing it was like photographing a snowfall, except much warmer. This bush lives happily on Morado Circle in my northwest Austin neighborhood.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that the second part of point 13 in About My Techniques is relevant to this photograph. I used the approach explained in the first part of that technique for a different sort of poverty weed photograph three years ago.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 13, 2014 at 5:36 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , , , , ,

20 Responses

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  1. Ah, there it is: the botanical bane of the varnisher. The seeds started floating around here about a week ago. That’s when I noticed them, anyway. It’s such a pretty plant in all its phases, and you’ve really captured the raw-cottony look of the bunched seeds. I’ve never noticed before how the stems, minus the seeds, so closely resemble the rosemary plant.


    November 13, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    • I can see where floating bits of fluffiness would indeed be a varnisher’s bane, just as they’re a photographer’s delight. This year we’ve had cottony water, snake-cotton, and now cottony poverty weed. I may be able to squeeze in one more before year’s end.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2014 at 2:02 PM

  2. Nice shot – it almost reminds about snow and the cold months we’re looking forward to……


    November 13, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    • It reminded me of falling snow, too, and that was before the cold weather came in a couple of days ago.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2014 at 2:06 PM

  3. Poverty Weed had given you a wealth of subject. There, I said it.

    Steve Gingold

    November 13, 2014 at 3:45 PM

  4. Oh this would be sneeze time for me! I would rather have real snowfall.


    November 14, 2014 at 4:37 AM

    • Faint heart never won fair photo, so onward through the sneezing. To tell the truth, I don’t think of this plant as particularly allergenic, but lately we’ve had (as we often do here) a high mold count.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 14, 2014 at 6:35 AM

      • Mold! Ugh! We have a tree here that spreads lots of cotton fluffy stuff. I dread it. I think it may be a cottonwood poplar.


        November 14, 2014 at 7:25 AM

        • The Spanish name for the kind of cottonwood tree we have in Texas is alamo, a word you may have heard of in connection with a Spanish mission in San Antonio called the Alamo.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 14, 2014 at 9:19 PM

          • Well I never! So Alamo actually means cottonwood? Or is it just a name for that tree?


            November 14, 2014 at 11:45 PM

            • As I understand it, the Spanish mission in San Antonio came to be known as the Alamo for the cottonwood trees that grew at the site. At


              I just found confirmation of that:

              “Beginning in the early 1800s, Spanish military troops were stationed in the abandoned chapel of the former mission. Because it stood in a grove of cottonwood trees, the soldiers called their new fort ‘El Alamo’ after the Spanish word for cottonwood and in honor of Alamo de Parras, their hometown in Mexico.’

              Cottonwoods are a common enough species in central Texas. I don’t know if any are left on the grounds of the Alamo in San Antonio, but here’s what one looked like in 2011 on part of the land that had ceased to be Austin’s airport a dozen years earlier:


              These seem to be fast-growing trees. Developers of the old airport property have been working fast in recent years as well, and I believe the tree I photographed there in 2011 has already succumbed to the rebuilders.

              Steve Schwartzman

              November 15, 2014 at 4:17 AM

  5. That’s nice how you captured the “seed fluff”. Seems almost ironic how giving the “poverty” weed is. 🙂


    November 14, 2014 at 10:14 PM

    • You said it: poverty weed has been anything but poor in the opportunities it keeps providing me for photographs, especially in its flowering and seeding stages. This photograph is from two weeks ago, but there’s still a little fluff on some of the bushes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 14, 2014 at 11:03 PM

  6. Love the fragile, intricate, structure in your photo…It demonstrates such a deft artistic touch.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    November 15, 2014 at 1:40 AM

    • Good of you to notice it, Charlie. In another comment, shoreacres said it reminded her of rosemary, and I’ve read sources that describe it as a herringbone structure. However you describe it, I find it distinctive among native plants that grow in my area.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 15, 2014 at 4:20 AM

  7. “…was good this year too” made me wonder what OTHER weed you’d blogged about, given the national news. Or maybe, you were just comparing weed at different times. Cheers!


    November 22, 2014 at 11:21 AM

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