Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

That which we call a rose

with 34 comments

"There are 3 species of native roses that grow along the Beach and the river: Rosa blanda, R. carolina, and R. palustris. They all bloom there at about the same time, and their habitats intermingle, and they are very difficult to differentiate, but my guess would be that we saw R. blanda."

It may be the case that that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet, but changing out the sense of smell for that of sight, here’s an already faded native rose that I made a non-traditional portrait of at Illinois Beach State Park on June 7th.

As for which species this was, Melissa Pierson wrote: “There are 3 species of native roses that grow along the beach and the river: Rosa blanda, R. carolina, and R. palustris. They all bloom there at about the same time, and their habitats intermingle, and they are very difficult to differentiate, but my guess would be that we saw R. blanda.”

That said, I hope you won’t find this portrait bland.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 21, 2016 at 5:10 AM

34 Responses

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  1. Beautiful

    Maria Gianna Iannucci

    August 21, 2016 at 5:16 AM

  2. I will blandish you by saying your photo is certainly bland, in the archaic sense of the word.


    August 21, 2016 at 5:45 AM

    • A happy archaism it is:


      In fact it (and blandish) prompted me to put together a post for a few weeks from now in my language blog.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 21, 2016 at 7:09 AM

      • Excellent. With reference to your link, we had a bland zephyr today.


        August 21, 2016 at 8:09 AM

      • I was thinking about bland today, and suddenly realized I haven’t heard it used around hospitals or medical settings for some time. It used to be that “bland diets” were prescribed for this or that condition. Then, things changed, and “soft diets” became the preferred phrase.

        It occurred to me that the change may have come because bland had taken on a different meaning, and called up an image of foods that were tasteless, unappetizing, and boring. When I still was working in hospitals, the joke was that a “blandwich” would be soda crackers between two slices of white bread spread with mayonnaise.

        It was interesting to see the Ngram viewer comparison of the two phrases.


        August 22, 2016 at 9:50 PM

        • The Ngram shows a jockeying back and forth for superiority, with bland diet ahead for the 1800s and soft diet for most of the time since.

          Your “blandwich” sounds terrible, but then a lot of institutional food is terrible. What a shame that that’s the case. I’d worried about the food at the Illinois Beach Resort, for which we were given a $25 voucher for supper and a $15 voucher for breakfast each day. Fortunately the food turned out to be excellent and served in large portions. No blandwiches there.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 22, 2016 at 10:01 PM

  3. What an unusual image. I never would have guessed this as a rose-in-decline. I think the only time I’ve seen that color in a plant’s leaves is with the familiar Tradescantia (spiderwort) species which aren’t native to Texas. It’s beautiful — so rich and elegant. The propeller-like sepals (?) are striking, too.

    Since the only rose I’ve encountered is a particularly nasty invasive, I went exploring, and found this list of native Texas roses. R. carolina is on the list, but barely. None of the roses listed show up in more than a few counties — sometimes, only one — and the border areas near Oklahoma and Arkansas seem more favorable for them. That makes sense of Tyler as the so-called rose capital of Texas. If you’re going to cultivate roses, best to do it where the natives like to grow.


    August 21, 2016 at 5:54 AM

    • At least I think it was the remains of a rose, based on what I saw around me at the time. Let’s hope I was right, or I’ll have to start stonily* chanting that a rose isn’t a rose isn’t a rose.

      And speaking of isn’t, you and the article you linked to make clear that Texas isn’t very native-rose-friendly, is it? In contrast—and one of the benefits of travel—I easily found native roses in Missouri and Illinois. Somehow I doubt the founders of the Texas Rose Festival had any concept of native vs. non-native:


      The notion of native seems to have become valued—to the very limited extent that it has at all among the populace—only in the last few decades. Consider that the cotton flower was a strong candidate for the official Texas wildflower.

      * Stein in German means ‘stone.’

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 21, 2016 at 7:44 AM

      • I was going to joke that the Princesses and Queen at the Rose Festival are the only natives there, but of course that depends on definition. I suspect many have been naturalized.

        I was surprised by cotton being in contention for the official state wildflower. For one thing, I don’t remember encountering cotton flowers. When I went a-googling, I had another laugh. The first page of images that came up showed mostly bolls. Eventually, I found some flowers, and learned that they go through fairly dramatic color changes: from white, to yellow, to red. It would be something to see a cotton field in flower.


        August 21, 2016 at 10:13 PM

  4. Very creative, love it.


    August 21, 2016 at 6:33 AM

  5. You are such an artist! Fantastic capture!


    August 21, 2016 at 7:36 AM

  6. Yes, an unconventional portrait, but a very effective one. It leaves a lot to the imagination. I like it!


    August 21, 2016 at 8:37 AM

  7. Anything but bland, this R. blanda! It is easy to think a plant’s beauty lies in its flower, but you’ve shown here how much more there is.


    August 21, 2016 at 8:43 AM

    • Lucky me to find this later stage of a rose while I was still there. If only I could visit Illinois Beach every couple of months throughout the year to see the cycles of all the other plants. Here in Austin, where I do have year-round access, I’ve often recorded the later stages and the lingering remains of native plants.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 21, 2016 at 8:52 AM

  8. This is simply beautiful. Fabulous and certainly not bland!


    August 21, 2016 at 1:33 PM

  9. A truly captivating image of this beautiful flower!

    Birder's Journey

    August 21, 2016 at 3:00 PM

  10. An excellent example of beauty in decay, Steve. The dim and out of focus background really allows the fading floral elements to shine.

    Steve Gingold

    August 22, 2016 at 6:16 AM

    • I’m no stranger to photographing plant in their latter stages, but this picture is unlike any I’ve done before, so I’m especially fond of it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 22, 2016 at 8:28 AM

  11. We have roadside roses near us .. They are just stunners. Wonderful image


    August 22, 2016 at 2:18 PM

  12. You’ve made an unusual, elegant portrait of this faded rose.

    Susan Scheid

    August 26, 2016 at 8:57 PM

  13. What an effective non-traditional shot. I would not have guessed it was a rose at first glance. Another commenter described it as elegant. I would also add romantic and delicate. Very clever of you to give a faded rose a second chance at glory.


    September 17, 2016 at 2:15 AM

    • The only plants I photograph in a place are the ones that are native there. Central Texas doesn’t have any native roses, so it’s a rare opportunity for me to get to photograph some.

      As for giving this faded rose a second chance at glory, I’m still looking for chances at that myself.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2016 at 6:58 AM

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