Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A rare milkweed

with 42 comments


At Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in southern Utah on October 23, 2016, I encountered the rare Welsh’s milkweed, Asclepias welshii.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 2, 2017 at 5:02 AM

42 Responses

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  1. Was it all alone? Or is this view the result of your rare talent?


    January 2, 2017 at 5:38 AM

    • This one was by itself. I came across a few others as I walked around.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2017 at 10:25 AM

      • The Welsh’s Milkweed is on the Federal Endangered Species List. This List shows all species that are in imminent danger of extinction. The Monarch butterfly relies exclusively on various milkweeds for larval development. With milkweeds in general disappearing, we will continue to see fewer monarchs. Shame.

        Ron W Seremet

        June 14, 2022 at 1:13 PM

        • I didn’t realize this is on the Endangered Species List. Perhaps it was when I took my pictures back in 2016 and I just didn’t know. Here in central Texas milkweeds are still common. Just this morning I saw several releasing their seeds in a stiff breeze.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 14, 2022 at 2:37 PM

  2. wow that looks so small and insignificant, just like when a human sees its true place and notices it is not the center of the universe


    January 2, 2017 at 6:54 AM

  3. There’s rare, and then there’s rare. A possible 20K stems is pretty darned close to extinction. It’s an extraordinary photo: one that elevates the plant and evokes emotion. It doesn’t look at all small and insignificant, but seems willing to stand up to all that sand and sky. You could put this single stem of milkweed next to your photos of Cathedral Rock, or the formations at the Valley of Fire, and it would hold its own.


    January 2, 2017 at 7:21 AM

    • My reaction while still there was annoyance: enough people had ridden around the dunes on off-road vehicles that I had trouble finding any unmarred dunes to photograph. Later, when I read about this rare milkweed, I couldn’t help but think that eventually some kid is bound to run over some of the plants. According to the article, at least some areas are closed to recreational vehicles, and that may be enough.

      I’m glad you rank this photograph’s artistry on a par with the others you mentioned.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2017 at 10:40 AM

  4. I agree with Linda~ she expressed it so well. This plant sure looks lonely, and I can’t tell. Does it have a seed pod?


    January 2, 2017 at 7:55 AM

    • I assume that because it’s a milkweed it produces pods, but none of the few specimens I saw had any. Likewise it was too late in the year to see any flowers. Maybe I can eventually arrange a spring trip to the region.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2017 at 10:47 AM

  5. Exceptional. The image speaks volumes.

    Sherry Felix

    January 2, 2017 at 8:05 AM

  6. Perseverance.


    January 2, 2017 at 9:50 AM

  7. Very bizarre that it was out there all alone, but great picture!

    Queen Farm Chick

    January 2, 2017 at 1:26 PM

    • I did find a few more of these milkweeds scattered about the area, all pretty far apart from one another. The isolation dictated my approach to taking pictures. Glad you like the result.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2017 at 1:30 PM

    • I should add that getting down close to the ground and aiming somewhat upward let me exclude all of the landscape beyond this dune. That exclusion adds to the effect of isolation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2017 at 1:32 PM

      • You definitely captured what you were looking for! Isolation fits the photo perfectly, not just because it is a milkweed off by itself, but the feel of being helpless and isolated in a desert is what I come away with. The sand, the shadow, it’s all so perfect!

        Queen Farm Chick

        January 2, 2017 at 1:41 PM

  8. It’s there by itself as a photographic opportunity. I’m glad you took it.


    January 2, 2017 at 2:08 PM

    • I’m glad I did, too. As you know, it doesn’t take much for me to look upon something as a photographic opportunity, and your posts make it seem you feel the same way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2017 at 2:15 PM

  9. Fabulous photo! For a moment I thought it was a surrealist painting!


    January 2, 2017 at 5:18 PM

    • Now that’s an interesting take: a surrealist painting. Maybe the pale drooping leaf reminded you of one of Dalí’s melting watches.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2017 at 5:32 PM

  10. I really like this shot, but not being an artist I had to ask my artist wife “why”. She says that (a) the rule of thirds is observed both horizontally and vertically, and (b) that we are drawn into the photo by the shadow toward the milkweed and taken back out by the blue sky. Oh yeah, it is Dali-esque, as well. Great job!

    Tom Lebsack

    January 2, 2017 at 6:19 PM

    • Hi, Tom. Thanks for forwarding your wife’s thoughtful analysis of the photograph. The two decisions I remember making when I took the picture are (1) getting down low to exclude land behind the dune (2) including the full shadow, which then forced the placement of the milkweed about a third of the way in from the left. I wasn’t thinking about Surrealism in general or Dalí in particular, but there could be unconscious influence from my days back in college when I learned about the Surrealists, first in literature and then in art.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2017 at 8:18 PM

  11. Full many a gem of purest ray serene
    The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear;
    Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
    And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
    (From Thomas Gray’s “Elegy”)
    He was speaking of people, but your photo reminded me of the lines.


    January 2, 2017 at 7:21 PM

  12. I love the simplicity. Beautiful photo


    January 3, 2017 at 2:16 PM

  13. Wonderful photo Steve … isn’t nature amazing! But then so is your photography ..😃


    January 3, 2017 at 3:33 PM

  14. An extraordinary sight and combination. Someone earlier in the comments mentioned Dali, I immediately thought of Magritte.


    January 6, 2017 at 10:06 AM

  15. This is very surrealistic, Steve, brilliant!


    January 8, 2017 at 5:18 PM

  16. Where can we acquire seeds for the Welsh’s milkweed so as to plant them in that and surrounding areas?


    April 23, 2018 at 3:52 PM

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