Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


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An exchange of comments last month with Linda at The Task at Hand brought up a milkweed vine classified as Cynanchum racemosum. The vernacular name is the four-syllable talayote, the form in which Spanish borrowed an indigenous word for the plant. Talayote rang a bell, so I searched my archive and discovered that the one time I ever found the species was May 25th, 2011, and right in my neighborhood. That was a couple of weeks before this blog started up, and with a world of native plants to highlight in the ensuing posts, I lost sight of talayote. Here then, six-and-a-half years late, is a photograph of a talayote flower. Notice once again that milkweeds do things in fives.

While I never showed talayote here till now, I did feature a different Cynanchum species in 2013.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 21, 2017 at 4:42 AM

12 Responses

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  1. So very sweet!


    December 21, 2017 at 5:26 AM

  2. Still as fresh and as lovely as it was 6 and a half years ago.


    December 21, 2017 at 6:35 AM

  3. I didn’t think anything could surpass the pearl milkweed vine for simplicity and beauty, but now I’m not so sure. If I had to choose between talayote and pearl milkweed for a pair of earrings, I’d be hard pressed to make the choice. Those corollas are the best: smooth green combined with ruffly white. That’s a plant determined to overachieve.

    I’m glad you pointed out that milkweeds do things in fives. I’m surprised I haven’t been conscious of that, but I guess I haven’t. I went back and looked at the five species I’ve photographed, and sure enough: five of everything.


    December 21, 2017 at 7:56 AM

    • It’s a happy coincidence that you’ve photographed five species of plants that “speak in fives.” You’re bound to find another soon, given how many milkweed species inhabit Texas.

      No need to choose between pearl milkweed and talayote. You can have a pair made for each wildflower. If you’re willing to transgress custom and wear one of each, you’ll have four arrangements: PP, TT, PT, TP. That’ll make you an overachiever, too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 21, 2017 at 9:13 AM

      • Those four arrangements looked to me like they had to be math-y. After I finally had the bright idea to substitute “sets” for “arrangements”, it didn’t take any time at all to find this page about the combination of elements in sets.

        By the time I finished working through that, and the linked page about permutations of elements in sets, I was feeling a bit like an overachiever. Since order doesn’t matter when it comes to the pearl milkweed and talayote earrings, I decided that the arrangements qualified as a combination of elements, rather than permutations of elements. Yes?


        December 27, 2017 at 8:42 PM

        • Without getting too math-y, we could compare the four possible arrangements of two earrings to the four possible outcomes of Heads and Tails when flipping two coins: HH, TT, HT, TH. (Replace the P in my previous comment with H, and you get the four outcomes I just listed.)

          As for whether order matters, it depends on whether you consider a pearl earring on the left and a talayote earring on the right to be different from a pearl earring on the right and a talayote earring on the left. Some people would say which one is on which side matters, while other people would say that either way it’s still one of each kind of earring.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 27, 2017 at 10:44 PM

          • That added complexity hadn’t occurred to me, so I guess I’m one who’d not be concerned about right/left placement. Interesting.


            December 28, 2017 at 6:58 AM

            • Permutations and combinations, along with associated probabilities, have a habit of quickly getting complex.

              Steve Schwartzman

              December 28, 2017 at 7:25 AM

  4. […] The previous post featured a flower of Cynanchum racemosum var. unifarium, known as talayote. The plant is a milkweed vine, and its viny nature is clear in the picture above, which shows some talayote twined around the stalk of a Mexican hat, Ratibida columnifera. Also in evidence in the photograph, and likewise looking for a foothold on other plants, is some Clematis drummondii, known as old man’s beard based on its appearance in a later phase. […]

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