Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

I thought down was the new up but now I see it was more up than down.

with 34 comments

Snailseed Vine with Fruit on Bridge 4895

Longtime visitors know that I don’t usually include human elements in the photographs I show here—which is why these nature pictures are nature pictures—but on September 5th I was taken with the way this snailseed vine, Cocculus carolinus, had found a roothold on a side of the bridge along Discovery Blvd. adjacent to the Costco in Cedar Park. While I originally thought the whole vine was hanging from the top, a closer look at the full-size image had me crossing over to the discovery that most of the vine was still growing in its usual upward direction, even if a few parts were hanging.

For a much closer look at the leaves and fruits of this tenacious snailseed, click the icon below.

Snailseed Fruit and Leaves 4899

Today marks the first time here that you’ve been afforded a clear look at a snailseed vine. In 2012 an out-of-focus snailseed fruit provided a red glow behind a strange-looking larva.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 21, 2015 at 5:14 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

34 Responses

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  1. Very pretty. Costco seems to be a landmark you refer to regularly. Are you in the area to shop or are you there specifically to look for wildflowers?


    September 21, 2015 at 6:40 AM

    • I have mentioned that Costco a lot recently, though I’d never taken pictures there until last month. The store in Cedar Park, which opened last year, isn’t near me, being about 13 miles from home, but it has several ponds next to it along whose banks I’ve found plenty to photograph.

      There’s a Costco less than 2 miles from home, so that’s the one we normally shop at. Until recently the property adjacent to it seemed abandoned, which was good for me because various native plants had sprung up there. I visited every so often to take pictures, even after construction started on the site a few years ago. Now the property has been completely developed, so I no longer have anything to photograph, except possibly a little bit at the margins.

      While that piece of land lasted, it provided me with a slew of photos, some of which are linked in the post at


      Steve Schwartzman

      September 21, 2015 at 7:28 AM

      • Ah the ‘concretization’ of the landscape……it is amazing how resilient wildflowers are though. Some plants get built over, others like the snailseed vine build over the buildings.


        September 22, 2015 at 5:42 AM

        • The vines are especially good at that, given that it’s their nature to twist and climb.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 22, 2015 at 1:09 PM

  2. What beautiful color: another example of Texas’s ability to provide some unique signs of autumn. Not only that, you have classier bridges than we do.

    Coincidentally, as I was driving I-l0 this weekend I noticed several small bridges with what I took to be trumpet vine climbing up and over their sides. I thought about stopping, but that’s as far as it went. I’ll brake for wildflowers, but not on I-10.


    September 21, 2015 at 7:31 AM

    • I wonder whether this bridge strikes you as classier because it’s new, and whether any future ones in your area will look as good because they’ll be new too. On the other hand, the still-growing town of Cedar Park may have spent extra money to make the bridge look nicer rather than strictly functional.

      I’ve occasionally pulled over to take pictures along Interstates, even if the noise is annoying. A good-to-photograph thing is wherever it is, and sometimes that’s close to a busy highway. In the case of this snailseed vine, I took pictures of it from the path that meanders around the ponds that the bridge crosses, an area I assume was too wet to put buildings on.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 21, 2015 at 8:01 AM

      • I suspect part of it is that your eye’s better trained than mine — that you see things sooner, and react faster. I was surprised this weekend that I was seeing some things, like the prickly poppies, that I’m certain I would have missed in the past.


        September 21, 2015 at 8:03 AM

        • You’re probably right. I believe we’re more likely to notice things we know about or are interested in. Before 1999 I didn’t know about the native plants here and therefore wouldn’t normally have stopped to photograph any.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 21, 2015 at 8:14 AM

  3. This is a striking vine and it looks like it provides abundant bird food.


    September 21, 2015 at 7:50 AM

    • Yes, you’re right about that. The article at


      notes: “The berries should not be eaten by people but are eaten by a large number of birds.” (I think the little fruits are drupes rather than berries, but we’ll let that go.)

      Snailseed is pretty common here. For several years one has been growing on a chain-link fence at the edge of the parking lot for the Upper Crust bakery. I think I originally noticed it because it was right in front of me when I pulled into a parking space there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 21, 2015 at 8:09 AM

  4. Immediately on the heels of pondering your up & down wordplay, as I slowly scrolled down to the image, the first thing that came into view was, of course, the white wall with its openings to the blue sky. I at first saw them as negative-space arrows, all pointing upward. It was fun to imagine that, and I couldn’t wait to see what else you’d included. It’s an interesting plant to be sure and thanks for the detailed blowup, too.


    September 21, 2015 at 10:46 AM

    • I like the way your mind saw the openings in the railing as negative-space arrows, along the lines of some well-known optical illusions.

      Presumably the detailed blowup didn’t knock you over with the force of its expansion. Even if it did, you clearly recovered enough to be able to write your comment.

      Snailseed is common here, so I don’t know why I never featured it until now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 21, 2015 at 2:17 PM

      • Clearly, you underestimated the subtle extra compliment I made in the second half of the last sentence in my comment. I’m happy that I recovered enough to write the comment. Rest assured that I really liked the addition of the blowup, and keep them coming!


        September 22, 2015 at 9:45 PM

        • I was just punning around, Gary, based on the notion that blowing up could mean enlarging or exploding.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 22, 2015 at 11:22 PM

  5. I enjoy seeing plants growing in less-hospitable places like concrete and brick. That’s a very attractive vine.

    Must be nice to see your name chiseled into the block there.

    Steve Gingold

    September 21, 2015 at 2:19 PM

    • Yeah, I had to make a hefty donation to the Cedar Park Public Library to get the city to put my name up on the bridge like that. My name got incised only lightly, so weathering and erosion may make it illegible as the seasons pass.

      I often notics plants growing in seemingly hard-to-get-started-in places, but the plants aren’t always as large or photogenic as this one.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 21, 2015 at 2:39 PM

  6. You’re right, you don’t include human elements, and this is new. I do it ‘cause they want a “habit” photo.

    Maria F.

    September 21, 2015 at 5:15 PM

    • I’ve included human elements a few times, when I’ve thought there was a reason for it. In your case, I can understand why people would want a habitat photograph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 21, 2015 at 8:59 PM

      • Yes, I have to do it, before I was hesitant, but now I understand

        Maria F.

        September 21, 2015 at 9:11 PM

  7. Very cool. Looks can be deceiving – so glad you included that inset with this vine in all its glory, AND that link to the remarkable little beetle!

    Birder's Journey

    September 21, 2015 at 6:32 PM

    • It was a strange little critter, wasn’t it? That post was three years ago and I’d forgotten about it but I rediscovered it when I searched my blog for snailseed.

      And yes, looks can indeed be deceiving. I know because I’ve misperceived things often enough.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 21, 2015 at 9:02 PM

  8. I get a kick out of seeing plants thrive in human constructions. I like all the geometrical patterns in this shot and the different levels and textures. The blue through the windows/cut outs really sets it off (but my favourite colour is sky blue so I suppose I am a little biased there.) 🙂


    September 22, 2015 at 3:33 AM

    • As for the attraction to and the inclusion of those geometrical patterns in the picture, perhaps we should attribute them to the photographer having taught math[s] for many years (and your parenthetical clause at the end seems to explain why you chose the Gravatar icon you did).

      On the topic of plants thriving in human constructions, in 2013 I showed a photograph of a wildflower that had sprung up in a crack in the pavement:


      Steve Schwartzman

      September 22, 2015 at 3:49 AM

      • Thank you for the link, Steve. I hope I am a little “tenacious of life” like Jane in the dialogue and the beautiful flower you featured. 🙂


        September 22, 2015 at 4:50 AM

        • You’re welcome, Jane, for the link to the words of that other Jane and the flower as tenacious at both Janes.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 22, 2015 at 5:05 AM

  9. Up can be down; every time I think I have it all neatly worked out it just all falls apart again with an example that doesn’t fit, an exception that makes me laugh, or scratch my head.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    September 25, 2015 at 12:40 AM

  10. […] contrast to the distant bridge-bright view of snailseed, Cocculus carolinus, that you saw in these pages last month, here’s a simultaneously light […]

  11. […] locations that day and ended up with hundreds of pictures, like this one along Scenic Drive of ripe snailseed fruit (Cocculus […]

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