Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A tendency to turn yellow

with 11 comments

Pearl Milkweed Vine Leaves Turned Yellow 0790

I’ve noticed that the leaves of Matelea reticulata, the pearl milkweed vine, have a tendency to turn yellow toward the end of the year (and occasionally at other times too). When I was photographing along Great Northern Blvd. on the overcast morning (hence the gray background) of December 3rd I came across this unusually vivid example, even to the point that the yellow was shading into orange. No one’s keeping score, but go ahead and add this to the series of late-fall foliage you’ve been seeing here for weeks. You can also add the fact that the darker little leaf came from a cedar elm tree, Ulmus crassifolia. Most likely the vine had recently been growing on a cedar elm but somehow became detached and took the leaf along with it. There’s also a possibility, though I think a less likely one, that the leaf fell off a cedar elm higher up and got caught on the milkweed vine on its way down.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 27, 2014 at 5:41 AM

11 Responses

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  1. Good catch.

    I don’t know of any vine milkweeds here in IA. How big? How far do they climb?

    Jim in IA

    December 27, 2014 at 7:26 AM

    • A good catch for the vine and for the photographer.

      In contrast to the thick and woody rattan vine that appeared here a couple of weeks ago, the pearl milkweed vine is delicate and much smaller. One source says “it has been known to rise 12′ into small trees.” Another source says the slender pods can get to be 15 cm long. The flowers are a half to three-quarters of an inch across.

      I couldn’t find any species of Matelea that make it to Iowa, although a few are attested in Missouri. Maybe on one of your southbound trips you’ll run into a milkweed vine.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 27, 2014 at 8:26 AM

  2. Gold and pearls; what more could one want?

    Gallivanta

    December 27, 2014 at 10:15 AM

  3. Stunning shot. 😀

    Raewyn's Photos

    December 27, 2014 at 2:17 PM

  4. Lovely. The light on the leaf stands out so well against that neutral background.

    Steve Gingold

    December 27, 2014 at 7:26 PM

    • As much as I don’t like gray skies (which we’ve been having a lot of lately), once in a while they provide the neutral background you referred to. If nothing else, it’s a change from my way-more-common blue.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 27, 2014 at 11:41 PM


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