Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Narrowleaf sumpweed

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The very name sumpweed tells you the low regard in which many people hold the plants in the genus Iva. This one is Iva angustifolia, narrowleaf sumpweed. A close relative of ragweed, it likewise causes allergic reactions in susceptible people, including me.

Today’s photograph, which marks the first appearance here of narrowleaf sumpweed, is from a property along US 183 in Cedar Park on August 30th (and I’ve seen plenty more in lots of places since then). The white in the background is from snow-on-the-mountain, Euphorbia marginata.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 3, 2016 at 4:53 AM

12 Responses

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  1. It looks so innocent 🙂


    October 3, 2016 at 7:15 AM

    • Tap one of those inflorescences and out comes a little cloud of pollen.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 3, 2016 at 8:10 AM

      • All kinds of lurking hazards out there, aren’t there?


        October 3, 2016 at 8:18 AM

        • Yes, there are, and the way they rank sometimes changes. Chiggers are still the worst for me. Fire ants have become more of a problem since I moved here 40 years ago.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 3, 2016 at 8:32 AM

          • Sigh. And new invaders arrive all the time. I remember never having to think about ticks.


            October 3, 2016 at 10:25 AM

            • During our visit I think I mentioned that, for whatever reason, I haven’t found ticks to be much of a problem in Austin. They exist, but even with all the time I spend in nature I’ve rarely found one on me. Things are worse up north. In addition to your report, my sister dreads them in Massachusetts.

              Steve Schwartzman

              October 3, 2016 at 11:08 AM

              • I recently heard that ticks nearly have disappeared from Texas because of the fire ants. I just double-checked that, and it seems it’s true. As this article puts it, anything that stands still for more than 10 or 15 seconds is on the menu for those little demons: fleas and ticks included.


                October 3, 2016 at 1:22 PM

                • That’s good news. I already have to contend with the downside of fire ants, so it’s good to hear they’re providing at least one useful service in return.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 3, 2016 at 3:56 PM

  2. I enjoyed your use of the phrase “low regard.” When I saw the name of the plant, my first assumption was that it grows in low, wet places like swales. On the other hand, if I have it right, the snow-on-the-mountain prefers drier conditions, so it may be the ‘sump’ in the name doesn’t refer to damp conditions at all. I’m not sure I’ve noticed it, but it’s very attractive. Its leaves remind me of rosemary.

    While neither botanical nor etymological, the name calls to mind my grandfather. He always maintained his Swedish acccent, but he was proud of trying to speak proper English. Still, he used some phrases that I still remember. I’m not even sure how to write it phonetically, but every time he was amazed by this or that, he’d say, “Wahl, inyat sumpin?” Every time I hear the word ‘sump,’ I think of him.


    October 3, 2016 at 1:32 PM

    • My take has always been that the sump in sumpweed really is the word sump. One site notes that this species “occurs on seepy areas or those that may hold some water in the spring.” I’ve seen sumpweed on properties with no obvious source of water, but the places tend to be flat, so water might well collect there at certain times.

      I recognized sumpin’ as a common transliteration of the way people with various accents and from various dialects say something.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 3, 2016 at 4:22 PM

  3. […] I was out on August 30th at a property along US 183 in Cedar Park photographing sumpweed and snow-on-the-mountain, I also found some paper wasps busy working on their nest. Notice the egg in one […]

  4. […] you remember the picture of narrowleaf sumpweed from a few weeks ago? We have a second species of Iva in central Texas, Iva annua, known as annual […]

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