Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

False nightshade, truly

with 30 comments

Chamaesaracha sordida 0606A

Making its debut here today is a smallish flower in the genus Chamaesaracha, whose members are known as false nightshade even though they are indeed in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. From what I can tell, this seems to be the species C. sordida.

I took this photograph at the Doeskin Ranch section of the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge in Burnet County on April 8. For the next week you’ll be seeing pictures from my visit there.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 22, 2016 at 5:11 AM

30 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Hairy looking beast. How unusual. Thanks for the information.

    Sherry Lynn Felix

    April 22, 2016 at 6:32 AM

  2. I feel a little sorry for this one. It can’t be fun, being described as low, dull, or dingy: words straight out of the Wildflowers.org description. Beyond that, sordida seems a bit judgmental. Granted, it’s not as stereotypically pretty as some (most?) of our spring flowers, but still: a little respect!

    I did grin at one of its popular names — hairy five-eyes — which picks up on those obvious hairs. It looks like they cover the foliage as well as the flower. I don’t know why more descriptions don’t mention the pretty star in the middle. I think it’s lovely.


    April 22, 2016 at 7:03 AM

    • The Latin adjective sordidus meant ‘dirty, unclean, foul, filthy, squalid, low, base, mean, poor, humble, small’ as well as ‘sordid.’ I wonder if the scientific namer of this species had ‘low, poor, humble’ in mind. The brown areas could also have metaphorically suggested the ‘dirty’ sense.

      I originally titled this post “Plateau five-eyes,” thinking I’d found Chamaesaracha edwardsiana. Later I saw that various species in this genus have been called five-eyes but by then I’d played off the falseness of the false nightshade and didn’t want to go back. I’d also mentioned the pentagon and the stylized star but forgot to reinstate that. You did it for me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2016 at 8:04 AM

  3. Steven: I’ve never seen this plant/flower before. It’s certainly not going to win a beauty contest but, it appears to be able to stand up for itself. Kind of like a, “character actor.”


    April 22, 2016 at 7:22 AM

    • Ah, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Still, I like your thoughtful comparison to a character actor in a movie.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2016 at 8:07 AM

  4. Is a tomato plant a nightshade?

    Jim Ruebush

    April 22, 2016 at 7:44 AM

    • Yes. I answered my own question.

      Jim Ruebush

      April 22, 2016 at 7:54 AM

      • Because various plants in the nightshade family are poisonous, when Europeans encountered tomatoes in the New World, many wouldn’t risk eating them. Also in the nightshade family is another one of our most important foods, the potato. Eggplant is in there too.

        Steve Schwartzman

        April 22, 2016 at 8:11 AM

  5. Iris Murdoch
    “People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”
    ― Iris Murdoch


    April 22, 2016 at 7:48 AM

  6. I’m afraid it does look a bit sordid, doesn’t it?


    April 22, 2016 at 11:29 AM

  7. We actually have Deadly Nightshade aka Belladonna growing around the garden but never mistake the fruits for a tomato, although they do look like them in miniature. They are a lovely purple with yellow private parts, but I think the coloration here is just as if not more lovely and hardly sordida.
    We also had a little related music.

    Steve Gingold

    April 22, 2016 at 12:19 PM

  8. It’s fascinating! I like the pentagon geometry and also the choice of colors (I know that it’s not the choice of the flower, but still).


    April 22, 2016 at 11:09 PM

  9. One of my favourite families ..


    April 23, 2016 at 3:01 AM

  10. It could also be Chamaesaracha edwardsiana. That is the one I typically see out at Doeskin.

    Ryan McDaniel

    April 28, 2016 at 11:21 AM

    • I originally thought this was the edwardsiana. I didn’t find a lot of pictures online to compare to, in addition to which there can be a lot of variation in the appearance of a specimen. I ended up tentatively going with C. sordida, but I could be wrong.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 28, 2016 at 11:31 AM

      • Unfortunately, it is one of those genera where you have to look at the hairs on the stems and leaves to make a determination. If the leaves were more or less glabrous (hairless), then it was probably edwardsiana, and that has been the case with most of the ones I have seen out there. Though naturally, I cannot claim to have looked at or found everyone. 🙂 Otherwise, if the leaves have hairs, it could be one of the other species such as sordida, but by then you have to get into what kinds of hairs they are…

        Ryan McDaniel

        April 28, 2016 at 11:45 AM

        • It’s a hairy subject, all right. That’s why I’ll always be more of a photographer than a botanist.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 28, 2016 at 1:56 PM

          • Lol. Yep, and I’m more of a plant guy, which is why I am always griping about my cruddy pictures. 🙂

            Ryan McDaniel

            April 28, 2016 at 4:32 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: