Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Antelope-horns milkweed buds and flowers

with 40 comments

You’ve already seen how on April 5th the median in Morado Circle played host to rain-lilies and anemones, wild garlic and four-nerve daisies, and a white bluebonnet. Also growing there was Asclepias asperula, the most common milkweed species in central Texas. This picture is the latest reminder that milkweeds do things in fives.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 5, 2018 at 4:59 AM

40 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. beautiful detail


    May 5, 2018 at 5:20 AM

  2. If monarch butterflies have the equivalent of Trip Advisor for their travels, this flower would have a five star rating. Deer and livestock would give it a very bad review.


    May 5, 2018 at 6:35 AM

    • I can just see the deer and livestock sitting down now to write their reviews. As for me, I always give milkweeds a high rating because their buds, flowers, and seed pods are so photogenic.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2018 at 8:42 AM

    • After I replied, I found this: “Milkweed roots contain the lowest amount of toxins. The toxins are highest in the bitter, milky sap, found throughout milkweed stems and leaves, hence the vulnerability of grazing animals. Sheep, cattle and sometimes horses may be poisoned by milkweed when they eat it in bulk. These poisonings usually happen when animals are penned in corrals with nothing to eat but milkweed, which grows almost anywhere, or when they eat hay containing large amounts of milkweed. Milkweed is also toxic to poultry.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2018 at 9:07 AM

  3. What a neat plant. To me, somehow, it wouldn’t look out of place in a coral reef.

    Robert Parker

    May 5, 2018 at 8:10 AM

  4. Gorgeous! Say, the batch of milkweed buds (left) make me think of rich, buttery shortbread cookies, although unsure of scale. (I’d just left recipe webpages for making shortbread cookies that were accompanied by videos and pix, Yum!)


    May 5, 2018 at 8:10 AM

    • To give you a sense of scale: the flowers are on average half an inch across. I was going to say that as visually appealing as the curvy stars of the buds are, you probably wouldn’t want to bite into one, but then I came across this statement: “The USDA reports that numerous American Indian tribes boiled and ate milkweed roots, shoots and buds.” The boiling and subsequent draining of the water is to remove harmful glycosides. The article goes on to say: “Wild-food enthusiasts typically boil and eat the shoots or buds of immature common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)… They discard the boiled water and avoid eating mature stems, leaves, pods and seeds. It is not worth the effort of repeated boiling and rinsing the shoots and buds of other milkweed species to remove their bitterness.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2018 at 9:00 AM

  5. I like the angularity of the buds and open flowers of this milkweed. This is such an interesting family of plants.


    May 5, 2018 at 8:12 AM

    • We’ll have to change the “is” to “was” because botanists have demoted the milkweeds to a sub-family within the dogbane family. That said, the buds and flowers obviously lose none of their geometric appeal, nor their other interesting properties.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2018 at 8:37 AM

  6. Wow! These are gorgeous! I love that you captured both the closed and opened phase of the blossoms.


    May 5, 2018 at 8:33 AM

    • While you were writing your comment, I was replying to an earlier one by saying that “it was considerate of both phases to sit side by side for me.” The flowers, by the way, have a pleasant scent, something I noticed a couple of decades before I even knew what this native plant is.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2018 at 9:05 AM

  7. That’s gorgeous! Haven’t seen it before.


    May 5, 2018 at 9:59 AM

  8. They are sooo beautiful!

    I’m back after a vacation 🙂


    May 6, 2018 at 4:16 AM

  9. The clarity of your photos just knocks me out. I don’t know what I’m doing to prevent myself from achieving the same thing, but there’s an answer. Some day I’ll find it.

    This photo reminded me of the day I finally grasped another reason your photos of antelope horn milkweed look so different from mine. They’re different species. I know exactly where I was standing when I saw these ball-like flower heads for the first time and thought, “Wait a minute. These are different from our green antelope horns.” Indeed they are. We’re awash in Asclepias viridis rather than Asclepias asperula.

    I was lucky enough to find one of the A. asperula plants growing in splendid isolation outside Kerrville, with most of the flower heads fully opened. It certainly was a splendid sight


    May 6, 2018 at 7:44 AM

  10. You may have heard me quip, as I’ve done from time to time, that I owe the clarity in my photographs to the clarity I developed over years of explaining mathematics to students. (Well, maybe there’s some truth to that after all.) Several things contribute to clarity in photographs, including steady hands, a small-enough aperture, a fast-enough shutter speed, picking subjects whose main parts lie approximately in a plane and keeping the camera parallel to that plane.

    Yes, the flower globes of this species are distinctive. I remember first noticing one in the late ’70s out at a quarry in Cedar Park. I had no idea what it was but for some reason I knelt down, sniffed it, and found it fragrant. It’s a local native version of “Stop and smell the roses.” It’s good to hear you found one of these plants flowering outside Kerrville. From now on you’ll aspire to asperula.

    Steve Schwartzman

    May 6, 2018 at 9:05 AM

  11. Do you remember Church Lady of Saturday Night Live? What would she say about the pentagram flowers?


    May 6, 2018 at 10:58 PM

    • Sorry, I’m not familiar with that personage. In contrast, I’m familiar with some of the many interesting mathematical relationships in a pentagram.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 7, 2018 at 6:25 AM

      • Oh goodness! It would take too long to explain, and I am no expert on Saturday Night Live. (I found it to be offensive.) Anyway, ‘Church Lady’ was a character who satirized the self righteous but also hypocritical religious sorts who gossip about others. She regularly talked about the influence of Satan. When she did so, she would lead up to it, and then pronounce ‘Satan’ with theatrical emphasis and organ music in the background. She was always finding weird connections between Satan and people she disliked. For example, President Ronald Reagan was once seen riding in a fancy Chrysler which was adorned with that evil pentagram emblem. Well, when I see that I realize that it is obviously a signal of the influence of the Evil One, you know, the Dark Angel, could it be? . . . . . could it be? . . . . SATAN?!”


        May 7, 2018 at 12:28 PM

        • Thanks for your explanation.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 7, 2018 at 12:54 PM

          • It is probably way more than you need to know.


            May 7, 2018 at 1:41 PM

            • I remember the Church Lady for numerous other thoughts.(I don’t remember the pentagram skit.) Dana Carvey, the Church Lady portrayer, also did dead-on imitations (particularly voice) of HW Bush, Dana’s participation in SNL’s 1992 presidential debate skits were breathtaking with him portraying both HW Bush and Ross Perot, and Phil Hartman portraying Bill Clinton.

              I still emote Church Lady’s “How conveeeeenient!” when appropriate and conveeeenient. 🙂 Also, “Isn’t that special?!” These two statements, and same words about Satan in a different context–“Church Chat: Satan – Saturday Night Live”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuJpalsj9sQ.


              May 7, 2018 at 2:30 PM

              • I do not know if Church Lady ever addressed the pentagram specifically. It was something we used to make fun of though back then. We often pointed at random objects, including the hood ornament of any random Chrysler, and ask if it might have anything to do with Satan.


                May 7, 2018 at 3:03 PM

              • You two have really gotten into reminiscing about the show.

                Has it really been a quarter of a century since then?

                Steve Schwartzman

                May 7, 2018 at 3:04 PM

  12. They look like little stars !!


    May 7, 2018 at 8:04 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: