Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Standing milk-vetch flowers

with 16 comments

At the top of Scott’s Bluff in western Nebraska on May 29th I saw flowers of what I thought was standing milk-vetch, Astragalus laxmannii. A comment two years later from Ed Lanka makes me think the flowers were actually hoary vetchling, Lathyrus polymorphus.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 30, 2017 at 4:55 AM

16 Responses

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  1. Looks great on black, Steve!!


    August 30, 2017 at 8:12 AM

  2. It’s lovely to see such a bit of color this morning. I remembered your earlier post about Astragalus, and a little link-hopping finally identified which of our plants this one reminds me of: our Texas mountain laurel.


    August 30, 2017 at 8:15 AM

    • Ah yes, that post that you had a role in reshaping. This Astragalus species has the more-typical purple flowers I associate with the genus. You’re right that Texas mountain laurel—which isn’t a laurel—is in the same family.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 30, 2017 at 8:33 AM

  3. This is a stunning portrait of a beautiful plant.


    August 30, 2017 at 9:06 AM

    • You’ll get no argument from me. Thanks. Hard to believe it’s been 3 months since we were there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 30, 2017 at 11:07 PM

  4. Gorgeous!


    August 30, 2017 at 10:19 PM

  5. Wow .. a super shot Steve. It pops against the black .. 🙂


    August 31, 2017 at 2:49 PM

  6. That is really pretty. You did a beautiful job of editing your photograph. About a month ago (June, 2019), I too, was at the top of Scottsbluff and took some photos of this year’s crop sweet peas. I do believe, however, that your photo is not standing milk-vetch. Rather, I believe the flower is, or a variety, of hoary vetchling, Lathyrus polymorphus. also known as wild sweet peas. On the same trip, I was at Courthouse Rock, where I took some photos of standing milk-vetch where the flowers are clustered at the end of short stalks. Though I am not currently from Nebraska, I do have the “Field Guide to Wildflowers of Nebraska and the Great Plains” by Jon Farrar, published for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission by the University of Iowa Press. Both of these flowers are portrayed and described in his book. In spite of all of all of this, I commend you on a very nice photograph that was nicely highlighted.

    K. E. (Ed) Lanka

    July 10, 2019 at 11:41 PM

    • After two years I no longer remember whether this is a species I tried to match up in a field guide I saw in a gift shop in Nebraska or whether I relied on a suggestion from someone who I contacted later who works for the National Park Service at Scottsbluff. I looked at pictures of Lathyrus polymorphus just now and there does seem to be a match. Thanks. I’m always at heart a photographer, and the botany is my weak link when it comes to photographing native plants.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 11, 2019 at 6:37 AM

      • I have looked at some of your other pictures. I wish that I had your direct e-mail address so that I could contact you, directly, not on public medium. I would like to know more about you and not through public medium. Obviously, you travel a lot, as do I. I am just a curious picture-taker, not trying to sell something.

        K. E. (Ed) Lanka

        July 11, 2019 at 8:35 AM

        • We went traveling for several years, then, without intending it, ended up sitting out a year. In a few days we’ll be off again on our first real trip in a year.

          I’ve generally kept my correspondence in the comments, of which there have been many. I’ve learned a lot from them.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 11, 2019 at 10:43 AM

          • Okay. Thank you. I just wanted to have a conversation with you that was not open for the world to read. I appreciate your prompt response.

            K. E. (Ed) Lanka

            July 11, 2019 at 11:51 AM

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