Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Silverpuff nodding

with 24 comments

Silverpuff Flower Head Nodding 2287

Chaptalia texana used to be known as Chaptalia nutans. The former species name means ‘nodding,’ and nod is what the flower heads of this little wildflower, known as silverpuff, tend to do. They also often don’t open very much, so what you see here may have been about as close to open as this flower head was going to get.

Today’s photograph is from March 5, 2012, on the property of native plant promoters Pat and Dale Bulla in northwest Austin.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 5, 2015 at 5:28 AM

24 Responses

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  1. A perfect ending to the day as this silver puff must now nod off.


    March 5, 2015 at 6:00 AM

    • That’s a clever borrowing of the term. I hope you’re happily still in the land of Nod while I write this, and will remain there for hours yet to come.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 5, 2015 at 8:32 AM

      • I did indeed remain firmly in the land of Nod and woke late to the wonderful sound of RAIN. What a treat.


        March 5, 2015 at 5:25 PM

        • Then both places had rain overnight, even if the calendar sees it as different nights. I know how much you need the water, so let’s hope there’s more where that came from.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 5, 2015 at 5:32 PM

  2. What a perfect visual metaphor. The front rolled through here at 10 o’clock last night, and the wind picked up through the night. It’s still gusting up to 40 kts, and everything is nodding like this silverpuff.


    March 5, 2015 at 8:29 AM

    • My first thought was that at 40 karats it was a jewel of a wind—oh non-nautical me—but I soon unknotted your abbreviation. In Austin the temperature also dropped as the wind came up, and the drizzle even turned to rain overnight, but alas there’s no ice to play with this morning, and the sun is already beginning to peek out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 5, 2015 at 8:39 AM

  3. Interesting. Implies either a very determined pollinator or self-pollination.


    March 5, 2015 at 9:54 AM

    • Some silverpuff varieties or individuals do open more, but staying so closed would seem to be self-defeating. Maybe there’s something to be said for the determination you mentioned, morally or biologically.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 5, 2015 at 10:03 AM

  4. Wow, really? That’s open? You’ve got great detail here. It reminds me of the Flamingos in The Little Mermaid. 🙂


    March 5, 2015 at 10:25 AM

  5. Gorgeous.

    Raewyn's Photos

    March 5, 2015 at 2:00 PM

  6. Barely open seems a challenge for a specific pollinator. Closed or Bottle Gentian has a similar habit although the bud seems even tighter.

    Steve Gingold

    March 5, 2015 at 3:49 PM

    • The clausa in Gentiana clausa means ‘closed,’ which from what you and the article say is an accurate description. Perhaps the plant is keeping out undesirable pollinators, though I don’t know what those might be or why they would be undesirable—perhaps some that would destroy the reproductive parts of the flower rather than spreading the pollen.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 5, 2015 at 3:58 PM

      • Certainly a possibility. From reading, it seems that bumblebees do the pollinating as they are strong enough to force their way inside. Fortunately for them, these gentians are not carnivorous.

        Steve Gingold

        March 5, 2015 at 4:41 PM

        • I would have thought the pollinators to be tiny.

          Steve Gingold

          March 5, 2015 at 4:42 PM

          • I can see advantages both ways: the strength of a larger insect to pry things apart, the opportunity for a tiny insect to work its way into a small opening.

            Steve Schwartzman

            March 5, 2015 at 4:51 PM

  7. I can see the flamingo similarity, but it most reminded me of a slowly-rearing snake. Certainly sinuous.


    March 6, 2015 at 10:05 AM

  8. This one looks to have “attitude.” As though someone has made a comment she disagree with and she (the flower head) is staring at them pointedly as though to say, “You don’t know what you are talking about!” But my imagination is running away with me today after a rather strange week of work. 😉


    March 8, 2015 at 12:51 AM

    • I’m happy to go with attitude, which still also has its literal, original sense: ‘The posture or position of a person or an animal, or the manner in which the parts of his body are disposed.’ (That’s from a century-old dictionary, with its generic he; you cast your imaginary scenario in the closer-to-home she.)

      What a week it must have been indeed, to have inspired your imaginary scenario.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 8, 2015 at 8:29 AM

  9. […] you’re wondering why the reluctant-to-open flower head you saw last time is called silverpuff, it’s because when Chaptalia texana goes to seed it […]

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