Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 13 comments


Soon after we drove into Arizona from New Mexico along Interstate 10 on October 17, we pulled over at the Texas Canyon rest area, where I was pleased to come across some snake-cotton. When I searched online later I found that two species are native in that area, Froelichia arizonica and Froelichia gracilis. I can’t tell which one this is.

If you want, you can have a look back at the Texas Canyon rest area from our 2014 trip to the Southwest.

You can also review the only other post in which a species of snake-cotton has appeared here.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 27, 2016 at 4:52 AM

13 Responses

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  1. Nice shot, Steven. Looks like little thorns low on the stem? Or maybe just new growth?


    December 27, 2016 at 5:57 AM

    • I never noticed those little protrusions that you mentioned, Dan. I have so little experience with snake-cotton that I can’t say what they are, but my impression is that they aren’t little thorns.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 27, 2016 at 8:31 AM

  2. When I saw this in your previous posts, I paid little attention to the botanical name. Today, it caught my attention. I once knew someone named Froelich, and I found the plant was named for Joseph Froelich (1766-1841), a German physician and botanist.

    I can see the resemblance to pussy willows you mentioned, but the just-opening buds’ fuzziness also remind me of the buds of the Mexican olive tree.


    December 27, 2016 at 7:46 AM

    • You’re one up on me with the buds of the Mexican olive tree: while I’ve occasionally seen a cultivated specimen in Austin and have some recollection of the white flowers, I didn’t recall what the buds look like. In searching just now I found an article about the Mexican olive tree at the Alamo:


      When I first saw the name Froelich, I assumed it’s an alternate spelling of the froehlich that means ‘cheerful, happy.’ Whether Joseph Froelich was a cheerful sort of fellow, I don’t know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 27, 2016 at 9:26 AM

      • The article mentioned fuzzy leaves, and the buds are rather fuzzy, too. I have only one photo, but it gives an idea, and shows at least a sliver of leaf. The flower actually does look like it’s being extruded from its covering. I was quite taken with it.


        December 27, 2016 at 9:17 PM

        • Okay, I see what you mean about fuzzy. I know someone in Austin who has a Mexican olive tree, and if I remember next spring I’ll go have a look.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 27, 2016 at 9:22 PM

  3. Snake Cotton… Cotton-mouth (moccasin) Snake… Cotton — My mind veered in many directions with this one! What an interesting plant – and since it’s in the amaranth family, I wondered if any part of it is nutritious/beneficial for one’s health, but found little information…

    Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    December 27, 2016 at 6:04 PM

    • Happy mind-veering to you. You’ve reminded me of Stephen Leacock’s description of the man who “flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.”

      I think I’ve encountered snake-cotton on only three occasions, so I know almost nothing about it. I searched a little bit didn’t turn up anything about being edible; I suspect it’s not.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 27, 2016 at 7:22 PM

      • Perhaps this morning I’ll veer into all directions via a milkweed boat! Your image for today took me back instantly to those carefree childhood years of wandering the Mississippi Delta outdoors!

        Playamart - Zeebra Designs

        December 28, 2016 at 6:48 AM

        • The place that we grew up in, no matter where it was or how far from it we end up, stays with us forever in a special way.

          Happy milkweed boating to you today. I suddenly realized I didn’t know how to say milkweed in Spanish so I looked it up: algodoncillo. English names the plant for its “milk,” Spanish for its “cotton.”

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 28, 2016 at 7:03 AM

          • that’s a fun name! it’s always interesting to see how different or the same certain words are in spanish… algodoncillo! …here in ecuador many people soften that double L so would say, …see-shyo…

            i also like what they call ‘saw horses’ here: caballitos…. there are two outside the apartment door right now in the petite alley.. they are about to hold segments of ‘bamboo’ – another word which has many variants here.. there’s canya, bamboo, guadua… and they all basically look the same! if i call it ‘bamboo’ they say,’no.. esta es guadua..’ and if i call something ‘guadua’ they might say, ‘no.. esta es bambu’…. the small variety is called canya brava…

            slowly i’m learning to recognize the differences…

            Playamart - Zeebra Designs

            December 28, 2016 at 7:13 AM

            • Yeah, once you learn those differences you won’t get bamboozled any more.

              I’ve heard of the sh pronunciation of ll in Argentina but didn’t know it exists in Ecuador as well.

              Speaking of saw horses, as an artist you’ll be happy to learn that our word easel comes from Dutch ezel, meaning donkey.

              Steve Schwartzman

              December 28, 2016 at 7:22 AM

  4. […] contrast to the fluff of the snake-cotton from Arizona that appeared in the previous post, behold the fluff I saw yesterday along Misting […]

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