Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A native grass by the light of the almost-setting sun

with 24 comments

Bushy Bluestem Seed Head 1171

During the same late-afternoon session on December 26, 2014, at the Arbor Walk Pond that brought you a photograph of a velvetleaf mallow flower, I couldn’t help noticing how reddened this seed head of bushy bluestem, Andropogon glomeratus, looked by the light of the close-to-setting sun, and how well the warm colors were set off by the azure of the clear sky beyond them.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 24, 2015 at 5:00 AM

24 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. It’s looks as though it is made of copper.


    January 24, 2015 at 5:14 AM

    • Let’s make this the honorary subspecies Andropogon glomeratus ssp. cupricus. I see at


      that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center article on this species even mentions “coppery winter foliage.”

      I wonder if anyone has ever done a copper etching of a bushy bluestem seed head. I searched for the simultaneous phrases “copper etching” and “bushy bluestem” but got no hits.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 24, 2015 at 9:25 AM

      • Ah, I feel wise to have the same thoughts as the illustrious Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The red or copper look of a bushy bluestem prompts me to ask if you know that in Australia a red-haired man is often given the nickname of Blue or Bluey? http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/100834/why-are-australian-redheads-often-called-bluey


        January 24, 2015 at 6:11 PM

        • Your statement about the name for redheads in Australia came to me out of the blue because I’d never heard of such a thing and wouldn’t have thought of it even once in a blue moon.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 24, 2015 at 6:20 PM

          • It is unusual. I have known about the red hair = bluey for a long time. What I hadn’t realised is the connection with the naming of Virgin Blue.


            January 24, 2015 at 6:59 PM

            • And an item in the article linked within your article goes the other way, with red defined as ‘a name often given to Blue Cattle dogs.’

              Steve Schwartzman

              January 25, 2015 at 4:27 AM

              • Oh yes!


                January 25, 2015 at 5:21 AM

              • For a short time we looked after a Blue Heeler cattle dog. It was called Beau, not Red. 🙂


                January 25, 2015 at 5:22 AM

                • I believe our Australian neighbor across the street has a dog named Beau, but I don’t think it’s the breed you mentioned.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  January 25, 2015 at 5:29 AM

                • With all these new (to you) words like Bluey and dunny, you will soon be able to talk to your neighbour in Strine, though I doubt he would appreciate it.


                  January 25, 2015 at 6:59 AM

                • You can add Strine to those new (to me) words.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  January 25, 2015 at 9:48 AM

                • Don’t let it lead to str(a)ined relationships with your neighbour!


                  January 25, 2015 at 5:13 PM

  2. Although it signals the end of the season and a die-back of the plant, or death as in annuals, I prefer the color and light we see at this time. Green is nice and a certain relief after a long winter, but for color you can’t beat those of autumn, especially when as well-lit as this.

    Steve Gingold

    January 24, 2015 at 6:06 AM

    • With bushy bluestem we get a double dose of attractiveness in the fall and winter: the warm colors of the plant (sometimes intensified, as here, by late-afternoon light) and the texture of the seed heads, which can be fluffier and more expansive than in this specimen:


      This grass can also grow in groups:




      I see bushy bluestem marked for half a dozen counties in southeastern Massachusetts, so let’s hope you get a chance to portray it (or you may already have done so).

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 24, 2015 at 9:40 AM

      • Thanks for the links. I read one of your responses which echoes mine. I just picked this up and thought I might mention it to you. Of course, maybe you have already taken a course online or in the evening since that post in 2012.

        Steve Gingold

        January 24, 2015 at 1:55 PM

        • Thanks for the link. One of the reviews there notes that the book provides information on “dozens of the most common families in the northern half of the U.S.,” and although I’m in the southern half I may still find lots of useful stuff. And no, I haven’t taken any courses online (or otherwise) since 2012.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 24, 2015 at 3:22 PM

          • I’m sure the basics apply. I haven’t read my copy yet, but if you wish I can put it on the fast track and tell you if I think it’s helpful for southern botany, but I would think it would be. Although I honestly think you have the basics down.

            Steve Gingold

            January 24, 2015 at 3:57 PM

            • There’s no hurry, but I’d still be interested in hearing your assessment of the book. If you find it valuable, you might also want to mention it in one of your posts.

              Steve Schwartzman

              January 24, 2015 at 4:00 PM

  3. I’m glad you like bushy bluestem, too, because I never get tired of looking at photos of it. After pondering this diagram of grass parts, I decided that’s a blade hanging at that ninety degree angle. The color of the grass is pretty, and the sky is the sky, but in my opinion, it’s that extra little bit that makes the photo.


    January 24, 2015 at 7:59 AM

    • Like it I do indeed, and I remember portraying it various times even in my earliest years as a photographer of native plants. I think you’re right that the broken structure departing perpendicularly from the main shaft is a blade. What I liked here is that it acted compositionally as a second leg to stand on, so to speak, and as a result this photograph is different from the many others I’ve taken of bush bluestem seed heads.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 24, 2015 at 9:46 AM

  4. Nice colors, reminds me of a squirrel!


    January 24, 2015 at 1:40 PM

    • Now that’s an association I wouldn’t have made, even though I have a picture of a squirrel scheduled to appear in a few days. I see the common characteristic that led you to think that way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 24, 2015 at 3:16 PM

  5. I love the wonderfully delicate detail, the rich lush color, and the wonderful lighting in your photo…Such a great job.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    January 25, 2015 at 2:16 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: