Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

More fruits of my labors

with 31 comments

Balsam Gourd Fruit 1288

I wasn’t surprised to come across some little yellow silverleaf nightshade fruits along Great Northern Blvd. on December 23rd of last year, but balsam gourd vines, Ibervillea lindheimeri, and the little globes they produce (which grow to between 1 and 2 inches in diameter and turn red when they’ve matured) are a much less frequent sight, so I was glad to find a few that day. If you imagine a larger size, you might follow my lead and see this fruit as a slightly under-inflated balloon.

Alternate common names for this plant are balsam-apple, snake-apple, and (Lindheimer’s) globeberry.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 10, 2016 at 5:06 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , , ,

31 Responses

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  1. great shot Steven!


    January 10, 2016 at 5:32 AM

  2. what a beautiful color!


    January 10, 2016 at 5:45 AM

  3. That’s quite a contrast in light. The sky looks like what I see during blue hour. Lovely rich red on the Balsam Gourd.

    Steve Gingold

    January 10, 2016 at 6:03 AM

    • Right. The way the camera’s sensor saw things, the sky ended up darker than it really was, presumably in comparison to the bright red of the fruit. I could’ve lightened the sky when I processed the picture, but I decided to let the camera have its say.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 10, 2016 at 6:18 AM

      • I am happy with that decision. I love what the camera says it saw. An interesting collection of names, balsam apple being the one which intrigues me the most. Balsam for perfume, perhaps?


        January 10, 2016 at 6:58 AM

        • I like the way you put that: “what the camera says it saw.” Like you, I’ve wondered how balsam came to be attached to this plant. I’ve rarely seen the flowers, so I don’t know whether they have a scent. I don’t recall detecting any from the fruit. I checked a book that I hoped might account for the name, Ellen D. Schulz’s 1929 Texas Wild Flowers, but I found no explanation there. I did, however, find a few more vernacular names: deer apple, Indian apple, and hierba de víbora, which is Spanish for snake-plant. Schulz says the reference to snakes “probably has its origin in the supposition that the small bites taken out by insects and birds were made by snakes.”

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 10, 2016 at 7:11 AM

          • I wondered if the snake reference was to the vine, with the fruit looking as though it were about to be devoured by a snake; or some reference to the apple and snake in the garden of Eden.


            January 10, 2016 at 6:17 PM

            • You could well be right. It’s often hard to track down the origins of these kinds of names.

              Steve Schwartzman

              January 10, 2016 at 6:48 PM

  4. Gorgeous picture! Have a great Sunday, and stay warm,


    January 10, 2016 at 9:31 AM

    • This species grows in your area, too, so perhaps you’ll get to see some of these globes.
      For the first time in Austin this season we may get down to freezing overnight.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 10, 2016 at 9:53 AM

  5. Magic All!🌞

    Bonnie Michelle

    January 10, 2016 at 4:04 PM

  6. Great fruit photo, Steve 😉


    January 10, 2016 at 6:20 PM

  7. The colors are beautiful, but my favorite detail is the shadow from the vine, falling across the fruit. It looks for all the world like a meridian, Jimmy Buffett has a song (“Pascagoula Run”) in which he refers to crossing “the wild meridian.” In a rather different sense, that’s what you nature photographers do in the process of capturing such fine photos.


    January 11, 2016 at 9:13 AM

    • I particularly noticed the “line” of the vine’s shadow at the time I took the picture; I was glad to have it as an extra element in the image, something to visually break up the surface of the gourd. Along the lines of your meridian, the shadow reminded me of the arm that curves up in a semicircle from the base of a desktop world globe.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 11, 2016 at 10:01 AM

  8. Orange and blue .. Perfect!


    January 11, 2016 at 6:40 PM

    • Orange and blue were the official colors of the county in which I grew up on Long Island (New York). Police cars, for example, were painted orange and blue there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 11, 2016 at 6:59 PM

  9. La aparente sencillez de la imagen la convierte en arte. Estupenda fotografía, Steve.

  10. Great photo, Steve! (You must be knowing already that I love natural things clicked against the blue sky).

    This orange color however reminded me of a something I had clicked a few years ago. I am not sure if there is any similarity. Here: https://nandinidhiman.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/and-sunday-got-a-little-scary/


    January 15, 2016 at 10:46 AM

    • Some commenters here have taken to talking about my signature blue sky because of the many times I’ve used the sky as a neutral background to isolate my subject.

      My impression—and that’s all it is—is that the flower in your post is unrelated to the plant that produced the fruit in today’s post.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 15, 2016 at 12:56 PM

  11. I know just what you mean~there are plants here that I’ve seen in flower but never with the fruit. It fills me with questions. Do they fail to set fruit, does the fruit fall very readily, or is “someone” coming along promptly to eat it? Moonseed comes to mind. Anyway, what fun and you’ve made a wonderful image of this one.


    January 17, 2016 at 11:03 AM

    • In this case I’ve seen the red fruit more often than the yellow flowers, and neither one more than a few times, so I’m always grateful for another chance to photograph it.

      When you refer to moonseed, do you mean Menispermum canadense? I’m not familiar with it, but from the USDA map I see it has strayed into a couple of Texas counties not too far from Austin. Here we have Carolina snailseed, which is in the same botanical family, and I do see its little red fruits often enough, even though animals eat their share.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 17, 2016 at 5:12 PM

      • Yes, that is the one. I suspect the reason is that I note the leaves unfurling early in the season, but by the time it is setting fruit it has visually disappeared from view, buried by all the other plants around it.


        January 19, 2016 at 5:43 PM

  12. Fascinating plant, I’m going to search out a bit more information on it, I love the perspective you used for your image.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    January 18, 2016 at 11:47 PM

    • I do try to keep things in perspective. We might also add that perspective is a photographer’s prerogative—nay, predilection.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 19, 2016 at 7:48 AM

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