A very different chiaroscuro
In sharp contrast to the soft and benign chiaroscuro of the Philadelphia fleabane you saw last time comes this one of a bull nettle, Cnidoscolus texanus. The alternate common name treadsoftly warns that the entire plant except for its flowers bears fine needles filled with toxic chemicals. Brush up against those and you’re in for a painful time. Spanish switches gender on bull nettle—and some might say turns misogynist—by calling the plant mala mujer. That translates into English as evil woman or wicked woman, but it translates to no advantage of sisterhood for any female walkers in nature who pay too close a visit to this botanical hazard. I came away intact (literally ‘untouched’) from my encounter with bull nettle on March 25th along Clovis St. in southeast Austin.
© 2016 Steven Schwartzman