Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Hierba de zizotes

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Hierba de Zizotes Flowers and Seed 7236

Here’s a first for this blog: Asclepias oenotheroides, which has the vernacular names side-cluster milkweed and (even in English) hierba de zizotes. Hierba in Spanish means ‘plant,’ and as best I can make out, zizote is one of various forms of a Mexican Spanish word—others being sicote, cizote, sisote—that refers to a type of skin lesion. When milkweeds are bent or bruised, they release drops of a white liquid that can indeed irritate some people’s skin, so perhaps this species of milkweed was known to cause those lesions. Or maybe the opposite was true, namely that this plant could be used to treat that skin condition. If anyone has better information about the name, I’d be glad to hear it.

In any case, you need no words to enjoy this milkweed flower, seed, and silk that I found at the Meister Lane cul-de-sac in southeastern Round Rock on October 1st.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 15, 2015 at 5:02 AM

24 Responses

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  1. Una imagen maravillosa. Muchas gracias por la información.
    ¡Buen día!

    • Gracias, Isabel. Yo no sabía cómo decir en español milkweed, así que busqué la palabra española y hallé algodoncillo. Me parece que se usa sobretodo para cierta especie del género Asclepias y no para todas las especies de ese género, pero no estoy seguro. ¿Sabes tu?

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 15, 2015 at 7:04 AM

  2. What a cool shot! When it first appeared on the screen I thought it was a broken window LOL.


    October 15, 2015 at 5:55 AM

    • I can see the element of broken-window-ness. If this had first appeared as a full-screen image you might have thought something had cracked your monitor. It’s interesting how such different elements, glass and plant fluff, can display similar patterns.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 15, 2015 at 7:08 AM

  3. Beautiful image. The milky fluid from dandelion stems has a traditional use as a ‘cure’ for warts, so maybe milkweed has similar properties.


    October 15, 2015 at 6:10 AM

    • I didn’t know that about the fluid from dandelion stems. It makes me wonder how people figured out such uses.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 15, 2015 at 7:10 AM

  4. Great shot of bloom, pod and silk! Did the silk contain any seed?


    October 15, 2015 at 7:23 AM

    • Yes, the brown object adjacent to the place where the fibers converge is the seed that those fibers were attached to.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 15, 2015 at 7:39 AM

  5. This reminds me in a way of the “spiderweb” I saw develop in front of me the one time my head hit a windshield after a collision with a bridge abutment. Now that’s a downer considering this is a neat image of one of nature’s wonders.
    I have yet to do any fall milkweed seed shots this year. Maybe your fine effort will spur me to action this weekend.

    Steve Gingold

    October 15, 2015 at 2:31 PM

    • All I can say to the first part of your comment is ouch. It reminds me of the time about 30 years ago when an oncoming car abruptly turned across my path and my forehead ended up striking the windshield—no seat belts in those days. It’s pleasanter to talk about milkweeds, and I hope you find some to portray this weekend.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 15, 2015 at 2:57 PM

      • Yeah, this was back in the early 70’s and while seatbelts existed there were not any in the tiny VW bug I was driving. There’s more to the story (no serious injuries although there was a little bloody grossness), but milkweeds are very much more pleasant. I am glad that we both survived our experiences (how else would I feel????).

        Steve Gingold

        October 15, 2015 at 3:07 PM

        • Exactly: how else would we feel? When I said “no seat belts in those days,” I should have clarified and said there were none in any car that I had. Back then I drove a 1965 Plymouth Valiant, and the accident did it in. The other guy was at fault, and his insurance company paid me, but all I got for an almost-two-decades-old car was a piddling amount.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 15, 2015 at 9:42 PM

  6. My first thought was of antelope horn milkweed — I suppose because of the vague resemblance of the flowers of this one to the antelope horn. it’s an amusing coincidence that, on a side-cluster milkweed, the seed appears to be riding side-saddle on its fluff.


    October 15, 2015 at 8:17 PM

    • To tell the truth, I’ve never ridden side-saddle, nor had I heard of the term side-saddle milkweed till I prepared this post and checked to see what vernacular names this species might have other than the hierba de zizotes that I learned in 1999. The seeds of antelope horns milkweed aren’t as long as the one in this photograph, but I don’t see hierba de zizotes often enough to have a sense of whether this long seed is typical or exceptional.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 15, 2015 at 9:37 PM

  7. This is beautiful, Steve. It looks like delicate glass threads! The surrounding shapes add interest as well. It actually doesn’t look plant-like at first glance. Perhaps some kind of delicate electronics invention with cut off wiring and fibres?


    October 16, 2015 at 6:24 AM

    • You saw it as glass threads and an earlier commenter saw it as broken glass. If you can persuade an engineer to turn this into some sort of profitable electronic device, we’ll all get a share of the royalties.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 16, 2015 at 6:52 PM

  8. Beautiful – such a delicate flower. Like a piece of art, almost doesn’t look real! 🙂


    October 16, 2015 at 8:37 PM

    • That’s the wonder of milkweeds, Inger, and I can assure you that they’re real. I hope you get to see some in person one of these days.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 16, 2015 at 8:54 PM

  9. Wow, you caught the splendid lighting of that silk so wonderfully! Scintillating.


    October 18, 2015 at 9:40 PM

    • I’ve long been fascinated by the way light plays off milkweed silk, so I’m happy top see it gets to you too.

      Did you know that scintilla and stencil are etymologically the same word?

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 18, 2015 at 10:32 PM

      • As usual, you’re one up on me. I did *not* know that. Brings about all sorts of intriguing comparisons.


        October 19, 2015 at 1:30 PM

        • The twofer is actually a threefer: tinsel is also etymologically the same word, so you can make even more intriguing comparisons than you realized.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 19, 2015 at 1:58 PM

  10. […] Asclepias oenotheroides. It has appeared in these pages just once before, and I refer you to that earlier post for a closer look at a more advanced stage in the milkweed’s development and to find out more […]

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