Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


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Tiny Insect on Pink Evening Primrose Stigma 8276

On March 17th I went to a still-wet Great Hills Park, and among other things I spent some time photographing pink evening primrose flowers, Oenothera speciosa. Notice above this flower the two okra-like buds that were ready to open.

Flowers in this genus have prominent stigmas (or stigmata if you’d like the Latin plural of this Greek-derived word) with slender arms that radiate from the tip of the style. On this stigma I made out a tiny insect; click the excerpt below for an enlargement of the crucial region.

Tiny Insect on Pink Evening Primrose Stigma 8276 Detail

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 7, 2016 at 4:57 AM

22 Responses

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  1. Love the dew drops. I grew up with a stigma.

    Steve Gingold

    April 7, 2016 at 5:18 AM

    • I do hope you weren’t too stigmatized in your childhood. May all your stigmas now be floral.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2016 at 6:36 AM

  2. A really neat image, Steve. Beautiful!


    April 7, 2016 at 6:05 AM

  3. Beautiful flower. I have only seen a yellow evening primrose and I really like the pink one.


    April 7, 2016 at 7:38 AM

  4. Whatever the hour, you were there at exactly the right time to get a fabulous photo. I’ve found these flowers (along with winecups, Herbertia, and some I haven’t identified) to be somewhat unpredictable. Too early, and they haven’t opened fully. Too late, and the little beauties are curling up and saying goodbye. I’m finding that knowledge of these plants’ habits, while perhaps not crucial to finding and photographing them, certainly helps.

    I enjoyed the tiny insect, too. There’s a lot more going on around flowers than I ever realized. Those little flies and bees and “whatevers” that populate them are like a good pun in a posting: not crucial, but fun.


    April 7, 2016 at 8:02 AM

    • Good of you to catch the play on words with crucial. I’ve normally seen the stigmas in this species split into four parts that form a cross, but until this specimen I don’t recall ever seeing a five-branched stigma. Oh well, as you say, knowing about the habits of plants helps, even if there are irregularities. The opening and and shriveling times of these flowers seem to depend on a lot of things. I’m guessing that the sun, the temperature, the cloud cover, the humidity and probably other things play a part.

      All those plants out there in nature need to get pollinated, so insects abound. (While many people think of honeybees, they’re not native here, yet plants in the Americas have managed to reproduce just fine without them.) It’s rare that I look at a small area for very long without seeing some small creature or the trace of one (e.g. spider silk).

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2016 at 9:53 AM

  5. wonderful photo and interesting story. By the way: stigma is clearly a Greek word.


    April 7, 2016 at 11:02 AM

    • Yes, stigma is originally from Greek, but the Romans borrowed the word and Latinized it. English then acquired the word from Latin. You can see the etymology at


      The most common native English relative is probably stick.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2016 at 12:29 PM

      • I once spent some time finding out English words that come from Greek. There are really a lot. But I didn’t know it was latinized. But the Greek culture was there before the Italian.


        April 8, 2016 at 10:29 AM

        • As we normally measure culture, in terms of the greatest flourishing, the Greek preceded the Roman. Based on geography, I assume the Indo-Europeans spreading out from their ancestral homeland reached Greece before they reached the Italian peninsula, but I’m no historian of such things.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 8, 2016 at 2:15 PM

  6. Wonderful hues Steve .. Must be a tiny insect


    April 8, 2016 at 12:45 PM

    • Yes, it was a very tiny insect, at the most 2mm long. People here are quite fond of the pink evening primroses because of their color. The flowers can get to be about 7–8 cm across.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 8, 2016 at 2:20 PM

  7. Wow, the resolution really held up with the crop. Good lens, even better sensor. Beautiful color.

    Pairodox Farm

    April 11, 2016 at 3:53 AM

    • With 50 million pixels, the Canon 5D SR affords plenty of leeway for cropping. The L-series 100mm macro is good too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 11, 2016 at 6:12 AM

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