Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for March 29th, 2015


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Pokeweed Flower Remains and Leaves 0558

The post about puccoon this morning led Gallivanta to raise the matter of the word’s origin, which is in a language of the Algonquian Indian family. In my reply I mentioned that the linguistic root means ‘red,’ something that’s hard to understand when looking at bright (and crinkled) yellow flowers. Apparently the roots of some puccoon species are red, and that explains the name.

The Algonquian word for ‘red’ has also given us the name of an unrelated plant, pokeweed (or pokeberry), Phytolacca americana, which I remember from my childhood on Long Island and which also grows natively here in central Texas. This photograph from 2006 shows the red stalks in the plant’s inflorescence. I assume this is the stage where the flowers have fallen off and the little fruits are beginning to form. Those fruits (“berries” in common parlance) will eventually turn purple, and if you handle them you can easily stain your hands purplish red; in fact another name for the species is inkberry.

Many people consider this plant a weed (hence the common name with weed in it), and I should add that all parts of the plant are poisonous.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 29, 2015 at 12:07 PM

Posted in nature photography

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Fringed Puccoon Flowers 9138

I have the impression it’s not all that common for flowers to be crinkled, but one central Texas wildflower certainly fits the description: Lithospermum incisum, known as fringed puccoon. I photographed this one when I walked in the greenbelt north of Old Lampasas Trail in northwest Austin on March 15th.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 29, 2015 at 5:24 AM

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