Portraits of Wildflowers

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Pearl Milkweed Pod 0839A

In the last post you saw a flower of the pearl milkweed vine, Matelea reticulata, and now here’s a look at the kind of pod that this species produces. Just as the flower has an interesting pattern on it, so is the pod interestingly textured, both in its surface design and its pointy protrusions. The dark spots appear to be tiny spiders, mites, or ticks (though I’m glad to say I didn’t get ticked off).

Like the previous photograph, this one comes from December 3rd along Great Northern Blvd.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 26, 2014 at 5:36 AM

28 Responses

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  1. It seems a very protective package for the seeds inside. They are very leathery and tough.

    Jim in IA

    December 26, 2014 at 7:30 AM

    • These pods seem pretty tough to me too, but therein lies something of a contradiction because they also have to grow in such a way that they’ll split open fairly easily when the seeds are mature. In fact I’ll follow this picture up with one showing just that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 26, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      • I harvested several pods this fall for seeds to plant in the spring. They were not open at the time. I let them sit on the deck for a few weeks until they opened on their own.

        Jim in IA

        December 26, 2014 at 11:47 AM

        • They seem to “know” when it’s time to open. I wonder if botanists have done studies to determine what triggers the opening; I imagine some relevant factors are temperature, sunshine, humidity, and perhaps just the passage of time.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 26, 2014 at 11:56 AM

          • I did a quick scan for info. The word senescence came up a lot referring to the drying and dying back of plants at the end of the season. The pod might have a weak seam that splits open when the it dries and contracts exerting tension on the tissues.

            That’s my idea. It sounds good, don’t you think? 🙂

            Jim in IA

            December 26, 2014 at 2:03 PM

  2. Nice image though, I must say, that I hate all three of the interlopers clearly shown … spiders, mites, and ticks. Ugh. I can’t make them out well enough to know what they are! I repeat … ugh.

    Pairodox Farm

    December 26, 2014 at 7:35 AM

  3. Milkweed pods are some of my favorite subjects!


    December 26, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    • Me too, and I’ve featured them here at least once in each of the years this blog has been running. One thing that distinguishes this species is that it’s a climbing vine, so you sometimes have to look up to see its pods because they’re hanging from a tree.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 26, 2014 at 10:27 AM

  4. Thanks for the insight on pods. I have been posting about pods. td


    December 26, 2014 at 10:05 AM

  5. Spiders, ticks and mites…oh, my! Cast your pods to the winds.

    Steve Gingold

    December 26, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    • The same sort of thing may have happened to you, but I don’t remember even noticing those tiny critters at the time I took the photograph. It’s possible that I did, especially with the largest one, and have just forgotten, but I know on other occasions I’ve been so intent on taking a picture that I missed observing some detail until I saw it later on my computer screen. Fortunately in this instance what I didn’t see didn’t hurt me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 26, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      • Yeah, that has happened to me but usually it’s a landscape and I miss a person in the distance or some litter or a contrail or…
        Probably though, the most embarrassing miss was this hopper. Talk about too intently homed in on the subject. 😳

        Steve Gingold

        December 26, 2014 at 11:04 AM

        • I can understand how the green of the hopper would have made it blend right in with the plant for you, especially with that bright yellow flower as the attractor of attention.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 26, 2014 at 11:52 AM

  6. There’s a face in there, and it jumped out at me as soon as I saw your photo. Rather Grinch-like, which is so appropriate. Thanks for this one!


    December 26, 2014 at 8:29 PM

    • You’re welcome. I don’t think I would ever have seen it on my own, but now that you’ve suggested it, I can see a grinchy face in there. Good imagination.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 26, 2014 at 8:34 PM

  7. I would never have suspected that sweet-looking flower to produce this gnarly pod! What a fun surprise plants are 🙂


    January 13, 2015 at 8:40 AM

    • You’ve raised an interesting point. It would be fun to set up a quiz in which a person would be shown individual pictures of various flowers and fruits (in the botanical sense) and then had to try to match them up.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 13, 2015 at 10:08 AM

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