Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Rustweed

with 14 comments

Narrowleaf Pinweed Flower 5993

Another russet plant I found on my June 4th visit to Bastrop County was Polypremum procumbens, known as rustweed and juniper leaf. The flowers in this species are tiny, I’d say no more than 3mm (an eighth of an inch) across.

As far as I know, I’d never seen any rustweed till my jaunt that day to Bastrop County. Nevertheless, the USDA map shows that the plant also grows not only in my county of Travis, which is adjacent, but also in many parts of the eastern United States. If you’ve ever seen this species, please raise your hand—which is to say leave a comment letting us know where you found it.

UPDATE: I originally confused this plant with another one that someone had identified for me in Bastrop, but in a comment on August 29th George Rogers suggested the plant is rustweed, Polypremum procumbens. The descriptions and photographs I’ve found online back that up, so thanks to George for the correction, which is now reflected in the revised text above.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 18, 2015 at 4:55 AM

14 Responses

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  1. A little tunnel vision? It’s always nice to find a new species…one which I have not yet seen here.

    Steve Gingold

    August 18, 2015 at 5:31 AM

    • I’m glad that you noticed the “tunnel.” As for the plant, it’s inconspicuous, and I must have seen it without knowing on visits to the area over the years. What made it stand out this time was that it was turning brown, and those clumps of brown in so many places attracted my attention. The USDA lists this species for your area, so perhaps you’ll encounter it now that you know it exists.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 18, 2015 at 7:37 AM

  2. Those 3 mm flowers are tiny. Easy to overlook. The narrow leaves conserve valuable water.

    We are enjoying our last day visiting son in Tacoma. We’ve enjoyed new plants and scenery not common in IA. On a clear day we can see Mt. Rainier from his apartment windows. Sunset turns it light orange.

    Jim in IA

    August 18, 2015 at 12:24 PM

    • As inconspicuous to us as those 3mm flowers are, plenty of appropriately tiny insects are happy to pollinate them.

      I was born in Tacoma but lived there only as an infant and therefore have no recollection of it from that time. My memories of the place all come from a first (and only) return visit in 1978.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 18, 2015 at 2:41 PM

  3. Do you think the pinweed might be more prolific in Bastrop now — or more noticeable — because of the fire? i don’t remember ever seeing it, but as tiny as it is, that’s not surprising. Is it drought that’s caused the browning, or is it coming to the end of its season?

    shoreacres

    August 18, 2015 at 9:28 PM

    • I know so little about this plant that I’m afraid I can’t answer your questions with any certainty. What I can say is that the fire did open up the land for colonization by various species that the dense pines had previously suppressed, so it’s certainly plausible that the pinweed was among those. As for the browning, perhaps it’s a regular part of pinweed’s cycle, because at the beginning of June we were barely at the end of the heavy rains we’d been having all spring. Now, after more than two months with no rain, it’s easy to think of drought as the cause of brown plants, but that wasn’t the case back then.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 18, 2015 at 9:55 PM

  4. My hand remains firmly at my side. 😦

    Gallivanta

    August 19, 2015 at 5:53 AM

  5. So amazing, so gorgeous, I really love the lighting you chose.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    August 19, 2015 at 11:33 AM

    • These artsy compositions aren’t to everyone’s liking, so I’m glad you appreciate this one, Charlie.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 19, 2015 at 1:01 PM


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