Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for July 5th, 2015

When small is big

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Smallanthus Flower Head 4882

Hardly anyone in Austin knows about a native plant that botanists classify as Smallanthus uvedalius, which apparently has the vernacular names hairy leafcup, yellow leafcup, and bear’s foot. Although the flower heads I’ve seen on this sunflower-family species are small or moderate—the one shown here was about 1.25 inches (3 cm) across—the plant’s leaves are large, even huge, occasionally reaching 70 cm (28 inches) in length and 40 cm (16 inches) in width. To give you a sense of those leaves’ shape and size, and to show you how much larger than the flower heads they are, here’s an overview:

Smallanthus Flower Head and Leaves 4838

These pictures, which mark the debut of this species here, come from June 3 along the upper reaches of Bull Creek. That’s still in my extended neighborhood, but I was surprised to learn that this seemingly little-known plant grows across much of the eastern United States.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 5, 2015 at 4:58 AM

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