Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Alamo, take 2; snails, take 2, except this time there’s only one and it’s tiny

with 23 comments

Tiny Snail on Alamo Vine Seed Capsule Remains 0067

So here are different takes on two recently treated things. Yesterday’s post about a cottonwood leaf mentioned that alamo is the Spanish word for that kind of tree. Central Texas is also home to a plant in the morning-glory family known as alamo vine, Merremia dissecta, which makes its debut in these pages today. In this photograph from March 27th along E. 51st St. you’re looking at the distinctive remains of one of this species’ seed capsules. After I got in close to take pictures, I was surprised to find a tiny snail on one of its ragged flanges.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 17, 2015 at 4:44 AM

23 Responses

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  1. Just right for a beautiful dried flower arrangement.


    September 17, 2015 at 5:01 AM

    • I never thought about this as part of a dried flower arrangement, but now that you’ve brought it up, I’ll add that many types of plants here would lend themselves to that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2015 at 5:55 AM

  2. Bonito encuentro, gran fotografía.
    ¡Buen día!

    Isabel F. Bernaldo de Quirós

    September 17, 2015 at 5:01 AM

    • Gracias, Isabel.
      En el español de las Américas se dice siempre Buenos días. Según lo que has escrito, en España, o por lo menos en tu región del país, parece que es posible usar el singular. (En portugués se dice Bom dia, y en catalán Bon dia.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2015 at 6:03 AM

  3. I love the visual connection between the snail and the dried seed capsule. A beautiful photo.

    Otto von Münchow

    September 17, 2015 at 6:52 AM

    • It’s good of you to have noticed and pointed out the harmony between the faint curves that run the length of the snail’s shell and those on the other convex object in the photograph, the tan part of the seed capsule.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2015 at 7:03 AM

  4. To each soul a little nook to call home.


    September 17, 2015 at 8:24 AM

    • Ah, we find thee in a soulful and homey frame of mind this morning.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2015 at 9:24 AM

      • Yes indeed. I’ve spotted a little house on a lake in Illinois with a couple of acres. Just think what a botanist could do with a couple of acres 🙂 Now all I need to do is win the lottery…


        September 17, 2015 at 10:26 AM

        • For years I’ve also thought about a little property where I could go to photograph nature, but land in and around Austin has gotten more and more expensive. Too bad I didn’t try to nab something a long time ago.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 17, 2015 at 11:40 AM

  5. I love the detail and the wonderful lighting that you so consistently capture in your images…Your posts are very informative, but your images are so well done they are just fun to look at.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    September 17, 2015 at 2:29 PM

    • People are going to think you’re my publicity agent, Charlie, but I do appreciate your comments and I’m pleased you find these images fun to look at. I have fun taking the pictures (even if I sometimes get worn out trekking through nature in the Texas heat).

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2015 at 2:53 PM

  6. The seed capsule has a bit of a chambered nautilus look to it, but I most like the way the arrangement of the capsule and what you call its flanges suggests the presence of wind. i’ve never seen a wind-blown snail before, but that’s what came to mind.

    I do wonder, when I see these tiny creatures, how they get themselves into such interesting situations. That doesn’t look like an especially good place to hang out if food and water was on what passes for your mind, but to a snail, it may all look quite different.


    September 17, 2015 at 9:58 PM

    • As so often, your fertile imagination suggests things I hadn’t seen, in part because I knew the reality of what appears in the photograph. You’re free to see the wind, even if I remember the day as being calm. (Speaking of which, I recently read part of a book that mentioned how biologists have found various non-flying little creatures in the air at considerable heights above the ground.)

      I, too, have wondered how and why these tiny snails get themselves into such strange (to our minds) perches, but they often do, so some purpose is presumably served. We might just as well ask what purpose is served when people make great efforts to climb a mountain.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2015 at 10:40 PM

  7. Others have already commented on the way the snail’s shell fits well with the shape of the seed capsule. They look like two little homes. I’ve commented before on another photo you’ve shared that featured a dry brown plant part (maybe a basket?) and a snail. I’m always surprised to see snails on such dry surfaces as I tend to see them in damp, green areas here. Your snails, like the people of Texas, must be hardy. 🙂


    September 18, 2015 at 1:10 AM

  8. It always amazes me the sizes that life forms can take and how, no matter how small an organism is, there always seem to be smaller until you get down to the single cell creatures and even with them there can be found smaller elements.

    Steve Gingold

    September 18, 2015 at 4:40 AM

    • And sometimes a given creature has an analog at a different scale. Just think how there used to be giant dragonflies, giant sloths, etc., before the ice ages. I don’t know if there were giant snails, but in the other direction I sometimes encounter very tiny ones only a few millimeters in size.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 18, 2015 at 6:57 AM

  9. Sometimes it takes me a while to put vine and vine together. The reason I thought of dried flowers is because the dry pod reminds me of this wood rose, merremia tuberosa, which I knew as a child in Fiji. The alamo vine, I discover, is also known as Woodrose. http://www.backyardnature.net/q/alamo-vn.htm


    September 19, 2015 at 7:08 AM

    • In your Fijian childhood you were closer to Texas than you realized. Wikipedia says this: “Merremia tuberosa, also known as Hawaiian wood rose, Spanish arborvine, Spanish woodbine, regretvine, or yellow morning-glory, is a vine native to Mexico. It is an invasive species in a number of islands in the Pacific and Indian Ocean.”

      I understand the name wood rose because the dry seed capsules of these vine do look woody, but I wonder what prompted the name regretvine.

      Your first sentence made me think that some people put the fruits and the double v’s of vine and vine together to make wine.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 19, 2015 at 7:27 AM

      • Twisted vv ines to make the wine. Perhaps regretvine comes about from the vine’s ability to take over, which makes one regret encountering it or planting it.


        September 20, 2015 at 4:46 AM

        • That’s a good hypothesis. I searched a little online but didn’t find anything relevant. I did get hits about “regretting taking a foreign language” and “regret not, fret not, live now.” I can’t sympathize with first but I can with the second.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 20, 2015 at 5:39 AM

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