Portraits of Wildflowers

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Rattan bower

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Rattan Vine Tangle Creating a Natural Bower 6816

Rattan (Berchemia scandens) can form such intricate tangles that the vines shown here in Great Hills Park on October 6th formed a bower all their own. Because not a lot of light penetrated the enclosure, I used flash to illuminate its interior. Given the cramped space inside the bower, I couldn’t step back more than a couple of feet from what I was photographing, so I put on my 16–35mm lens and zoomed out to its widest setting to fit in as many sections of the vines as I could.


I’m attending the Native Plant Society of Texas symposium today. You’re welcome to leave comments, but I may be late in replying.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 16, 2015 at 6:00 AM

21 Responses

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  1. are those roots???


    October 16, 2015 at 6:07 AM

  2. Quite a tangle. I bet my blogger friend, Intricate Knot, would like this. The store where I work carries a line of rattan furniture.
    Enjoy the symposium…sounds like fun.

    Steve Gingold

    October 16, 2015 at 6:17 AM

    • I probably should have made clear that although a common name for this is vine is rattan, the species is botanically unrelated to the rattan that’s used for furniture in Asia.

      As for your friend Intricate Knot, perhaps you can send him a link to this post and see what he thinks.

      I’m a bit tired from the two-part field trip I was on in the afternoon (with temperatures in the high 80s). The symposium continues all day tomorrow with indoor sessions, then concludes with another field trip Sunday morning.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 16, 2015 at 7:02 PM

      • It certainly looks like it would be a good material for wrapping around a frame. Slight faux pas…Intricate Knot’s a lady.
        As much as I enjoy certain things…plants being near the top of the list…an all day anything structured would definitely wear on me and is why I rarely take part in workshops. I’d probably bail on some of the remainder. There’s a hint at my lack of scholarly success.

        Steve Gingold

        October 16, 2015 at 7:24 PM

        • I think I’ve read that some people have used Berchemia scandens, the domestic rattan, in furniture, and that may be how the name rattan came to be applied to it. Another vernacular name is supple jack.

          Even if Intricate Knot is a lady, she can still enjoy a rattan tangle. No maleness is required.

          The three-day symposium is a lot to take in. This is only the third one we’ve attended in the 16 years I’ve been aware of the Native Plant Society of Texas.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 16, 2015 at 7:48 PM

  3. Fascinating, I’ve never seen Rattan growing before; as it is used for making furniture etc. I would never have imagined it was so convoluted. Hope you enjoyed the symposium.


    October 16, 2015 at 6:50 AM

    • I just now mentioned to the previous commenter that although a common name for this is vine is rattan, the species is botanically unrelated to the rattan that’s used for furniture in Asia.

      Yes, it was a good first day of the symposium, which continues through Sunday morning.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 16, 2015 at 7:04 PM

  4. that’s an other powerful miracle of nature! Many thanks for sharing this beautiful pic

    Giuseppa Sallustio

    October 16, 2015 at 7:02 AM

    • You’re welcome, Giuseppa. I like your take on this as a miracle; the dense tangle does strike me as miraculous.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 16, 2015 at 7:05 PM

      • Well, one might look at it also as a spontaneous tangled flow of energy of Mother Nature. Just wondering how long it took to become like that

        Giuseppa Sallustio

        October 17, 2015 at 2:14 PM

        • Ah, now that’s s good question. I wish I had a sense of how quickly this species grows, but unfortunately I don’t. I wonder if anyone has marked one and gone back periodically to see how long it takes to get large and tangled.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 17, 2015 at 11:22 PM

  5. Muy interesante, gracias.

  6. I laughed at your use of the word “bower.” Most of the bowers referenced in song and poetry wouldn’t have looked a bit like this: or, if they did, it would have been more difficult for a gentleman to entice his lady-love to pass a bit of time there.

    it still tickles me that “Will You Come to the Bower” was the fiddle tune played at the Battle of San Jacinto. This bower you’ve showed us would have done better for holding Santa Anna.

    I read about the symposium in the Native Plant Society newsletter. The schedule sounds full, and tiring, but wonderful. Enjoy!


    October 16, 2015 at 8:56 PM

    • Bower seemed the exact word I needed to describe this natural structure I found in the woods. I’ve seen plenty of rattan vines and various degrees of tangles, but this one enclosed a space in a way I’d never encountered. Granted, it’s not the kind of bower described in the song your link describes, but the uniqueness of this one appeals to me more than any conventional one—and you’re right that it would have formed an excellent temporary jail for Santa Anna.

      You’re correct that the symposium is a full and tiring affair. We’ve been through the introductory evening reception and the first full day. Tomorrow is a whole day indoors sandwiched between the field trips on Friday and Sunday. Then it’ll be time to collapse.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 16, 2015 at 9:15 PM

      • It just occurred to me — this very much resembles a bower bird’s nest. It’s fun to imagine you came across the dwelling of a Texas-sized bower bird. It would have to be imaginary, of course, since they don’t live here: details, details.


        October 17, 2015 at 7:52 PM

  7. A-maze-ing.


    October 18, 2015 at 9:40 PM

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