Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Nettles and claws

with 32 comments

Horse Nettle Flower and Buds 6779

Here are two more wildflowers I saw at the Diamond Grove Prairie in southwestern Missouri on June 4. The first is horse nettle, Solanum carolinense. The second is catclaw sensitive briar, Mimosa quadrivalvis var. nuttalli.

Catclaw Sensitive Briar Flowers 6745

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 2, 2016 at 5:04 AM

32 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. The flowers are a lovely soft contrast to the title. Another take on it could be the beauty in the beast.


    August 2, 2016 at 6:14 AM

    • I like that: “the beauty in the beast.” I endure my share of scratches and punctures to go after the beauty of some of these wildflowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2016 at 6:39 AM

  2. Beautiful shots, I particularly like the second one.


    August 2, 2016 at 6:24 AM

    • I don’t remember ever before seeing a sensitive briar flower globe like the one that’s seemingly missing half of its stamens.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2016 at 6:43 AM

  3. Great captures with beautiful detail and color.


    August 2, 2016 at 7:09 AM

    • Thanks, Dan. I was grateful to Scott Lenharth for taking us to this picturesque piece of prairie.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2016 at 7:18 AM

  4. This is a first. I recognized both flowers from your photos. I found Solanum carolinense in a vacant lot next to West Marine just a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, I haven’t quite learned my lesson about see-flower-photograph-flower-now. The mowers showed up a few days later, and I’m still waiting to see if there will be more horse nettle in the new growth.

    The view of the sensitive briar is unusual. I take it those are buds in the top flower. I’ve never seen such a thing, whether in real life or in a photo. The flower’s so striking, I’ve probably looked right past the buds. It’s neat that you were able to include the stems, too. Until I learned to look at those stems, I was confusing Mimosa strigillosa with the catclaw sensitive briar.

    There’s an entry from Mr. Smarty Plants on distinguishing the various Mimosa species here. I read it twice, and couldn’t find Mimosa quadrivalvis var. nuttalli. Has there been another renaming, and is this the same plant as M. nuttallii?


    August 2, 2016 at 7:25 AM

    • It seems this sensitive briar has had at least four scientific names:


      According to the USDA map, the species is found as close to Austin as Bastrop County, so I may well have seen it without distinguishing it from the Mimosa roemeriana that’s common in Austin.

      I long ago learned the lesson you mentioned, and even on a much shorter scale than from one visit to the next. I’ve observed that on a single outing things—especially light and shadows—can change enough from the outward-bound segment to the return segment that if I see something that looks like it would make a good picture I’d better photograph it as soon as I see it.

      I don’t know what to make of the upper sensitive briar: buds or the beginnings of fruits? Where’s a botanist when we need one?

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2016 at 1:48 PM

      • Here’s an entry in an Ozarks wildflower site that surely does suggest that what you found are buds. There’s a great photo of the flowers just beginning to emerge, about halfway down.

        The site’s maintained by an individual, so it’s far from inclusive, but it’s beautifully designed — and it’s double fun that it’s focused on the area I hope to return to this fall.


        August 2, 2016 at 10:24 PM

        • Thanks for finding that site. Definitely buds, I’d say. Now I wonder how typical it is for one side of the flower globe to open ahead of the other.

          May you have a profitable return to the Ozarks with a better camera and more skill to use it than you had on your last visit.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 2, 2016 at 11:05 PM

    • And congratulations on recognizing both wildflowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2016 at 1:54 PM

  5. These are stunning photos and so interesting to read about. Such contrasts seem to abound in nature!


    August 2, 2016 at 8:07 AM

    • The prairie in Missouri was a good place to take pictures. The prairie in central Texas is equally good, but I enjoyed the change of pace. Both of the wildflowers shown here have closely related counterparts in Austin.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2016 at 1:50 PM

  6. very beautiful photos


    August 2, 2016 at 11:27 AM

  7. Superb shots.


    August 2, 2016 at 5:29 PM

  8. Both of them are gorgeous! Wonderful images 😄


    August 3, 2016 at 1:43 AM

  9. Yet another flower (Horse Nettle) that we have both photographed. The brier not. Both nicely shot.

    Steve Gingold

    August 3, 2016 at 4:06 AM

  10. While I like both images, Steve, the second one catches my eye the most. The brightly coloured filaments really stand out. Are they soft to touch or stiff? Beautiful.


    August 3, 2016 at 6:37 AM

    • The second image caught my eye too. These little flower globes are soft to the touch. The reason the plant is called sensitive briar is that if you touch the compound leaves, all the little leaflets close up in a matter of seconds. You can see that in a video of a related species.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2016 at 6:50 AM

      • Ah yes, I think we have something similar here in Australia. I seem to remember playing with the leaves when I was young. 🙂


        August 3, 2016 at 6:52 AM

        • Plants like these are children’s playthings. I was no longer a child when I saw my first sensitive plant in Honduras in 1968 or ’69.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 3, 2016 at 7:21 AM

  11. The second flower, as photographed, reminded me of a burst of fireworks.

    Susan Scheid

    August 14, 2016 at 11:08 AM

    • The sensitive briar does have a fireworks-y appearance, doesn’t it? The plant does exhibit a trait of fireworks, namely movement: touch the plant’s compound leaves and they fold up.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 14, 2016 at 11:21 AM

  12. This is just what I was going to say. What a fun plant. To see. I imagine it might not be fun to encounter.


    August 24, 2016 at 11:58 AM

    • The first sensitive briar I encountered was in Honduras in 1968 or ’69, and I still remember it after all these years.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 24, 2016 at 2:34 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: