Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A brighter white

with 22 comments

Brighter white than the old plainsman buds you saw last time are the flowers of southern dewberry, Rubus trivialis. I photographed this member of the rose family on March 15th between Arboretum Blvd. and Loop 360 in my northwestern part of Austin.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 18, 2017 at 4:57 AM

22 Responses

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  1. Gorgeous spring flower!


    March 18, 2017 at 6:08 AM

    • On the way from Houston to Austin last week we saw a slope covered with dewberry flowers, and I’ve seen lots of scattered ones in my two outings in Austin since returning.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 18, 2017 at 7:51 AM

  2. It doesn’t seem in the least trivial!


    March 18, 2017 at 7:45 AM

    • The original sense of Latin trivialis was ‘that is in or belongs to the cross-roads [etymologically ‘three roads’] or public streets.’ The notion of ‘commonplace’ eventually shifted to ‘so common as to be of little value.’ Dewberry flowers are commonplace at this time of year but neither you nor I find them trivial.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 18, 2017 at 7:57 AM

      • That is interesting, Steve. I didn’t know that about the word trivialis, although once it is pointed out it is obvious.


        March 19, 2017 at 9:00 AM

        • That’s why I love etymology. It makes clear so much that is hidden, to varying degrees, in our common vocabulary.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 19, 2017 at 10:03 AM

      • And if you had a literary quote about the rubus trivialis you could write it in your commonplace book where it would not be commonplace at all.


        March 22, 2017 at 3:45 AM

        • Now you’ve made me wonder whether anyone has written something worthy about dewberries that I could quote.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 22, 2017 at 7:06 AM

  3. They’ve been appearing around here for two or three weeks: scattered, but thicker along railroad tracks and such. Out in the country, they’ve been a little slower, but they’re coming on. That brilliant white certainly makes them easy to see. And like so much in nature, they’re unpredictable. I stopped down in Brazoria county to take the obligatory spring photo of a dewberry blossom, and discovered one with either 13 or 14 petals. Of all the hundreds of flowers there, one had decided to show off.


    March 18, 2017 at 8:08 AM

    • I still remember some 25 years ago noticing people gathering dewberry fruit on the south side of US 290 outside of Houston. Dewberries do seem to have an affinity for the land along railroad tracks, don’t they? I wonder why that should be. Maybe it’s just because that land can’t be put to human use, so the plants get less interference from people.

      I looked in Shinners and Mahler’s to see how many petals a dewberry flower is known to produce. I didn’t find any statement there. 13 or 14 sure seems like a lot, so maybe you found a prodigy. I also learned from S + M that five species of Rubus have been documented in north-central Texas. That made me check Bill Carr’s plant list for Travis County, which shows only Rubus trivialis here. One less distinction I need worry about having to make.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 18, 2017 at 9:31 AM

  4. Shaping up to be a banner year for dewberries as the shiny white blossoms cover the bushes in Caldwell County. Our family enjoyed hand-picked berry cobbler for years until a frightening rattlesnake encounter….sure miss those cobblers.


    March 18, 2017 at 8:25 AM

    • I’m ready for that dewberry banner to unfurl, and I look forward to gathering berries a couple of months from now. Of course there are a few rattlesnakes out there, but one could appear anywhere, not just in a dewberry patch. I hope you’ll go back to making cobblers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 18, 2017 at 10:09 AM

  5. Mmm. Love the dewberry. Even letting some of the thorny brambles to take over a place in our yard. Delicious berries!

    When driving in March, I’m forever on the lookout for picking hotspots (by the white flowers) along fields and fences where mowing gets missed. I then go back with my buckets mid-April. Such a spring treat!!


    March 19, 2017 at 1:15 PM

    • You’ve got the right strategy in letting dense dewberry flowers tip you off to places to return to. A few years ago we gathered several pounds of dewberries from one place in Williamson County. Even with gloves, though, my skin didn’t manage to stay entirely prickle-free.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 19, 2017 at 4:09 PM

      • For prickle-free picking, try those winter knit fingerless gloves (Walmart $4) and a long sleeved flannel tucked into them. Naked finger tips are perfect for mush-free plucks, and the pricks are left to the covering. Of course, this doesn’t keep out the chiggers…(which interestingly I managed to get a picture of recently!)


        March 20, 2017 at 11:03 AM

        • Thanks for the glove recommendation.

          You’ve got me intrigued about a picture of chiggers because everything I’ve read has led me to believe that chiggers can’t be seen with the naked eye.

          So far this year I haven’t gotten any chigger bites, but it can’t be much longer before the little critters are out.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 20, 2017 at 11:14 AM

          • It’s the larva — which are the skin drinkers — you can’t see. The adult ‘red bug’ looks like a tiny caffeinated spider.


            March 20, 2017 at 11:40 AM

  6. Gorgeous dewberry bloom, Steve!

    Lavinia Ross

    March 25, 2017 at 4:04 PM

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