Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Arc following arc

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Clematis drummondii Fluff on Flowering Poverty Weed 8107

By October, when the shrub or small tree known as poverty weed (Baccharis neglecta) begins to turn fluffy white with flowers, its weak branches bend and curve and wave in the breeze. Here the effect was intensified by late-season puffs of fluff from the vine called old man’s beard (Clematis drummondii).

The site at the western end of Mocha Trail in far north Austin where I took this photograph on October 20 used to be a much bigger playground for me, but last year a large part of the property gave way to an apartment complex. Fortunately one of the remaining pieces of undeveloped land still shelters its quota of native plants, as it has since I discovered it a decade ago, so I spent a good hour there taking pictures during this latest visit.


Update: In comments on yesterday’s post and a previous one about leaf miners, Charley Eiseman identified the kinds of insect larvae involved and told some interesting things about them.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 26, 2015 at 5:00 AM

28 Responses

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  1. I like how you did this, the lines of movement echoing each other. Mocha trail….mmmmmm…..I believe my coffee pot is ready….


    October 26, 2015 at 8:23 AM

    • One overlap between painters and photographers is composition. You have total freedom with that, while we photographers are mostly limited (short of after-the-fact manipulations via software) to where we can put the camera and what direction we can aim in. Of the several pictures I took that day of old man’s beard puffs on the poverty weed, this is the only one that managed to line up the arcs, and that’s why I chose to show it.

      The name Mocha Trail doesn’t apply to a real trail, but just to the street I have to drive along that dead-ends at this property. It sounds like you’d get a hankering for some caffeine if you drove down it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 26, 2015 at 9:28 AM

  2. It looks like half of a planticane. See the little blue “eye” in the middle of the vortex? It’s even moving counter-clockwise, like a proper planticane should. It must have been fun to find some Clematis drummondii so late — and so nicely paired with the Baccharis neglecta. In terms of appeal, there’s certain no poverty here!


    October 26, 2015 at 9:05 AM

    • That’s a great coinage: planticane. Still, it took me a moment to catch what you meant, even after the just-ended rain spun off from Hurricane Patricia. I’ll add that at this site I walked across the canes of some dewberry. Fortunately they were pretty low and didn’t snag the legs of my jeans, as sometimes happens with the taller dewberry vines.

      Clematis drummondii is such a hardy plant that I usually find it doing its thing to varying degrees from late spring through November.

      As you put it so well, on this property there was no poverty of native plants and wildflowers, especially Maximilian sunflowers and goldenrod.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 26, 2015 at 12:36 PM

  3. Nice repeating pattern…finding design in what could be taken for chaos.

    Steve Gingold

    October 26, 2015 at 1:41 PM

  4. I had the same thoughts as Melissa but she expressed it better than I could have done…about the lines of movement and the coffee! 🙂


    October 27, 2015 at 3:48 AM

  5. In a backwards way the arcs complement the ‘arcs’ on Shoreacres’ avatar. ( At least to my quirky mind!)


    October 27, 2015 at 7:06 AM

    • In mathematics, your observation isn’t quirky at all, and in a calculus class, I’d contrast the way the arc is concave up in one image, concave down in the other.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2015 at 8:00 AM

  6. Did I say yet that I really love this photograph? I certainly thought it, and I am saying it now!

    Susan Scheid

    October 31, 2015 at 6:04 PM

    • Thanks, Susan. I sometimes can’t remember whether I merely thought something or followed through on it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 31, 2015 at 6:59 PM

  7. […] though, is the soft one put on by poverty weed, Baccharis neglecta. You caught a glimpse of that in a recent post in which the tufts of an “old man’s beard” vine partly masked the […]

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