Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Clearly not obscure

with 21 comments

Prairie Mimosa Flower Globe 4327

Clearly not obscure, but chiaroscuro, is this view of a prairie mimosa flower globe, Desmanthus illinoensis, and the plant’s shadowed leaves. Unlike its relatives tropical neptunia and sensitive briar, the prairie mimosa has compound leaves that do not close up when touched.

As with the last few photographs, today’s comes from my visit to a piece of the Blackland Prairie off Naruna Way in far northeast Austin on June 2nd.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 7, 2015 at 5:32 AM

21 Responses

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  1. Nice! Unfortunately I’ve only seen the exotic mimosa on my walks. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albizia_julibrissin


    August 7, 2015 at 6:13 AM

    • The flowers of the exotic mimosas are pretty, no question, and I remember liking them a long time ago, before I became aware of native versus non-native (the name Persian silk tree tells one of the places they came here from). They’re trees, while the prairie mimosa is a forb or small bush.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2015 at 6:47 AM

  2. A camera obscura would have a hard time capturing this beauty as well as you and your camera did. I smiled at the slightly frazzled appearance of the flower, but the colors, the lighting, and the focus are perfect. It’s one of those photos I don’t want to stop looking at.


    August 7, 2015 at 6:36 AM

    • Frazzled is the right word for this little flower globe, and it’s a quality that characterizes these flower globes rather than being a transient condition of the one shown here. Thanks for letting me know that the photograph held your attention.

      From the literal obscurity of a darkened chamber to the ubiquity of the cell phone, think how much the camera obscura has changed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2015 at 7:02 AM

  3. I ponder that sometimes, too, and marvel. I haven’t found this wonderful plant in the field yet here, but I am happy to enjoy your photo of it. I keep wanting to gaze at it, too.


    August 7, 2015 at 9:00 AM

    • Then gaze on, not on a gazania but on an undismantled Desmanthus. I’m surprised you haven’t found this plant near you, especially given its species name of illinoensis. I find it fairly often on the prairie side of Austin and have photographed it in various stages of its life.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2015 at 9:09 AM

    • I also wonder how much your background as a painter informs your view of the photograph, especially given the chiaroscuro.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2015 at 9:11 AM

  4. After seeing the way a sensitive mimosa closes up I find myself having to stroke every mimosa I come across even though most are not (sensitive). This one has a flower that looks like those pompoms children make by wrapping wool around a cardboard tube, but with tantalising glowing tips. And chiaroscuro takes me back to being 17 and heading for the night-club. Which was called. Yup, chiaroscuro 😀

    Your photos not only are the most creative and beautiful examples of nature, but often spin-off into weird memories for me… thank you Steve 🙂


    August 7, 2015 at 3:47 PM

    • Ah, creatively weird: what a great combination. Thanks for your appreciation of the photography I’ve been doing to reveal and promote native species.

      Like you, I sometimes touch compound leaves of plants in this branch of the legume family to see if they react. Unlike you, though, I didn’t go to any nightclubs at 17. Now that you’ve opened the door, you’ll have to do one or more posts to shed light (and dark?) on that era in your life.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2015 at 9:04 PM

      • Hahaha… I think that part of my life is best forgotten, though I did go travelling around Europe aged 17, so one day those stories might hit the blog 🙂


        August 8, 2015 at 10:09 AM

        • Traveling around Europe at 17 is an adventure, all right, and no doubt worth a tale or two in your blog.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 8, 2015 at 10:12 AM

          • I’ll get to them in time, well, before I forget about them hopefully! I believe I have an old diary document somewhere if I ever copied it from one PC to the next.


            August 8, 2015 at 10:20 AM

    • I see the resemblance, although the prairie mimosa flower heads have looser elements; in addition, I don’t remember any fragrance to them the way there is with buttonbush.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 8, 2015 at 3:18 PM

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