Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: panache

with 19 comments

How could I not record the panache of toetoe (pronounced in Māori tó-eh-tó-eh, placed in botany in the genus Austroderia) at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary northeast of Dunedin on February 27th?

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 17, 2017 at 4:46 AM

19 Responses

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  1. They are certainly stylish and flamboyant. I am trying to imagine the size of the helmet or hat which could support a toe toe panache.


    September 17, 2017 at 6:39 AM

  2. There are stands of a similar grass at the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge. I’ve not identified them with certainty, but I hope they’re giant plume grass, rather than the Pampas grass which I see is invasive in New Zealand, too. I like the droopy heads of this grass, and the curvy feel of the photo. And I’m glad to know another meaning for panache, which I’ve only known as a synonym for verve or flamboyance.


    September 17, 2017 at 7:52 AM

    • Compare the original and figurative senses of pinnacle, which is an etymological doublet of panache.
      Why New Zealanders would have imported pampas grass when they have their native toetoe is beyond me. Then again, many things are beyond me. The older I get, the less I seem to understand what people do.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2017 at 8:02 AM

      • Pinnacle turned into a bit of a rabbit hole, since I found the Latin root defined in different dictionaries both as feather and as wing. Eventually, I found this, from the OED entry for pin: “Latin pinna and penna, “a feather, plume,” in plural “a wing,” are treated as identical in Watkins, etc., but regarded as separate (but confused) Latin words by Tucker and others, who derive pinna from PIE *spei- “sharp point” (see spike (n.1)) and see the “feather/wing” sense as secondary.”

        In the meantime, I learned a lot about pin feathers and pinnate leaves.


        September 17, 2017 at 10:17 AM

        • Oh — my sainted grandmother used to tell me, “Honey, as you get older, you’ll find some people age smarter and some people age dumber. Try to be one of the smart ones.”


          September 17, 2017 at 10:18 AM

        • I was going by Watkins, as reflected in the etymologies of the American Heritage Dictionary, which traces the words back to Indo-European *pet- ‘to rush, to fly.’ Learning about pinnate leaves is helpful in identifying plants.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 17, 2017 at 11:17 AM

  3. Delicate and feathery!! 🙂


    September 17, 2017 at 8:52 AM

  4. Glad to learn another meaning for panache, I hadn’t known that.
    And a lovely photo — a real feather in your cap.
    Started me thinking about bird- and feather-related terms like Panache: Macaroni, Cockalorum, Coxcomb, Peacock, Popinjay, etc. maybe we’d better not put a feather in your cap after all! How about we go with the laurel wreath instead 🙂

    Robert Parker

    September 17, 2017 at 12:57 PM

    • You might say my parents already went with that. The Greek noun stephanos, the source of our name Stephen and its alternate spelling Steven, meant ‘a wreath or crown awarded to the winner of a competition.’

      The ‘feather’ meaning of panache is the original one. From it came the figurative one that is now more common.

      And of course good for you for describing today’s photograph as a feather in my cap.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2017 at 1:05 PM

  5. Beautiful toe toe Steve … 😀


    September 20, 2017 at 3:53 AM

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