Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Illinois bundleflower

with 26 comments

Illinois Bundleflower Dry Bundle 6065

Click for greater clarity.

When I was at the Arbor Walk Pond on December 4, 2013 (yes, that’s a year and a month and a day ago), I noticed the remains of various native plants. One was Illinois bundleflower, Desmanthus illinoensis, whose many small and scrunched-up pods form the bundles referred to in the common name. A post from the spring of 2012 showed some of these bundles when they were still green, but from farther away and playing a supporting role to the bluebell flowers that were then the attention-getters.

In today’s photograph, the seeds that had gotten caught on the dry pods were either from poverty weed or cattails, both of which were shedding plenty of fluff nearby.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 5, 2015 at 5:43 AM

26 Responses

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  1. Great lines all curvy in this dried flower, Steve. I bet it could make for some really interesting abstracts.

    Steve Gingold

    January 5, 2015 at 6:50 AM

    • I’m still mystified by why the species scrunches its pods into bundles this way, but I’m with you in finding a lot to like (and record) in all these curves. The next time I come across one of these, I’ll have to see what I can do along the lines of your suggestion for more abstraction.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 5, 2015 at 7:01 AM

    • I agree~ it would be delicious to paint, a la Georgia O’Keeffe.


      January 5, 2015 at 8:25 AM

  2. That plant is common in the midwest. It is a member of the mimosa family according to this article.

    Jim in IA

    January 5, 2015 at 7:48 AM

    • Right you are, so this is one you’ll be able to see (or may already have seen) in western Iowa. The last photograph in the linked article shows an earlier stage than my picture, when the reddish-brown seeds were still present in some of the opening pods.

      The reference there to Mimosaceae surprised me. From what I just read elsewhere, it seems that some botanists have taken the Mimosoideae, which is a subfamily of the Fabaceae (the bean family), and set it up as a plant family in its own right. You know how those botanists are always getting into mischief of one sort or another.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 5, 2015 at 8:07 AM

  3. Isn’t that a cool looking seed head? Wow! Your conversation with Jim up there has me chuckling.


    January 5, 2015 at 8:24 AM

    • Nature photographers get into mischief too, so maybe I’ll be able to provoke some more chuckling.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 5, 2015 at 12:01 PM

  4. I love wildflowers in the winter.


    January 5, 2015 at 8:33 AM

  5. This is an absolute stunner, what a great piece of art work!!! Love it, love it, it inspires, makes me think about to use it for some kind of design feature. Love the colors, Mother Nature dressed up this flower in the most beautiful “haute couture”! Intricate, sophisticated layers, complicated, wonderful, breathtaking! I must say that this is by far the best shot, my favorite of all times from you! Thanks, you made my day, this is more than a bundle of joy from Illinois!


    January 5, 2015 at 11:01 AM

    • I’m happy to see you so enthusiastic, so rhapsodic about this “bundle of joy from Illinois,” Eva. If you can figure out a way to incorporate this “haute couture” into one of your designs, go ahead and give it a shot; I’m curious to see how you might transform it.

      One clarification: what you’re looking at here is one of the little bundles of pods produced by the plant after its flowers get fertilized, but this isn’t actually a flower. By whatever name, though, it’s every bit as intricate.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 5, 2015 at 2:07 PM

  6. That is a great shot!


    January 5, 2015 at 12:36 PM

  7. I need to look for this “Illinois” plant next season! I embarrassed to say I’m not familiar with this interesting plant. Thanks for sharing.

    Pamela Breitberg

    January 5, 2015 at 6:16 PM

    • You’re welcome, Pamela. The USDA map has this species marked for Cook County, so once you find some you can introduce your science students to it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 5, 2015 at 7:07 PM

  8. I’ve only seen the bundleflower in this stage, so I was interested to find mimosa mentioned. I looked up some photos of the flowers, and sure enough — the leaves of the bundleflower look very much like those of Mimosa borealis, or sensitive briar, for that matter.

    I read that assorted creatures, including cattle, find this one tasty. Personally, I think the image you’ve presented here looks like potato chips.


    January 7, 2015 at 7:52 PM

    • Maybe you can eat a few of those potato chips while you down some mimosas.

      Seriously, though, you’re right to make the comparison to those other plants in the genus Mimosa.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2015 at 8:36 AM

  9. Splendide photo.


    January 13, 2015 at 12:13 PM

  10. This makes beige look like just another vibrant color. Background…what was it? Sandy soil? Grasses? Curious. Nice shot.


    January 15, 2015 at 4:26 PM

    • As I remember it, the background was from various dry plants that were far enough away from the close subject that the camera lens resolved no details and just passed along their beige color.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 15, 2015 at 4:45 PM

  11. This is gorgeous. Someone mentioned O’Keeffe, and I can well imagine her taking this as a subject for a painting–though, like her work though I do, it’s hard to imagine improving on what you’ve shown here.

    Susan Scheid

    January 17, 2015 at 11:17 AM

    • I’m a fan of O’Keeffe’s abstractions, Susan, so thanks for the compliment. I had this ready to post a year ago but somehow kept putting it off. I’m glad to have finally released it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 17, 2015 at 5:21 PM

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