Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Fragrance where you don’t normally find it

with 34 comments

In my experience, daisy-type flowers almost never have a fragrance. Here’s one that does, and it also has a strange common name: nerve-ray. Botanists know it as Tetragonotheca texana. A tetragon is a four-angled figure: Greek tetra = four and gon = angle; theca = a place to put something, a receptacle, a case. In the first photograph, you have no trouble seeing the green tetragon behind the flower head’s yellow rays.


Before the flower heads of this species open, their buds justify the description of them as four-angled cases:

I took these photographs beneath the power lines west of Morado Circle on April 17th.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 25, 2018 at 4:55 AM

34 Responses

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  1. Looks like an hors d’oeuvre. Fascinating.

    Sherry Felix

    May 25, 2018 at 5:16 AM

  2. Lovely geometry in these flowers!!


    May 25, 2018 at 6:06 AM

  3. I’m beginning to think of Beneath the Power Lines West of Morado Circle as an enchanted place. The flower’s name brought to mind the four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa), but the four-ness of this one’s far more obvious. As for fragrance, it’s interesting that Gaillardia suavis, the so-called pincushion daisy, sometimes is called perfumeballs.


    May 25, 2018 at 6:41 AM

    • The next time I run across a pincushion daisy—which might take a long time—I’ll give it a sniff.

      “Beneath the Power Lines West of Morado Circle” is certainly an enchanted place for me. I don’t know how many of the other people who walk there, if any, appreciate the native plants. They don’t know what they’re missing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 25, 2018 at 9:54 PM

  4. Interesting that it would have scent! That is unusual for sure. I’m sure it is to make up for being such a square.


    May 25, 2018 at 8:31 AM

    • Ha ha ha… No aspersions on math people, I hope.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 25, 2018 at 9:55 PM

      • 😀 No, definitely not.
        Speaking of scent, my friend and I were out in the field the other day pulling garlic mustard and we were both sneezing. But then we stepped into a colony of lily of the valley and commented on how wonderful the scent is from the real plant, and not so much from a bottle. I’m sorry to say the lilies are invasive and will push out natives. I’ve never really understood all the bare ground under trees in Illinois. I wonder why it doesn’t carpet itself, the way woodlands elsewhere do? I wish the native plants had more backbone to stand up to the invaders!


        May 26, 2018 at 8:11 AM

  5. What a fascinating configuration of that flower!


    May 25, 2018 at 10:09 AM

  6. what a cool flower, never seen one before. Unopened, it looks like what the medieval academics used to wear, and I think some of the Catholic cardinals still wear that type of biretta.

    Robert Parker

    May 25, 2018 at 10:10 AM

    • That’s an excellent comparison. This species doesn’t grow anywhere near you, so it’s not surprising you’ve never seen one. Even here I have the impression it’s not well-known.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 25, 2018 at 10:08 PM

  7. Amazing. I’ve never seen a square flower!!

    Martha Goudey

    May 25, 2018 at 11:55 AM

  8. Incredible Steve, what math, what geometry!


    May 25, 2018 at 6:19 PM

  9. The elegant bud reminds me that perfume bottles are often beautifully shaped. Perhaps the idea came from the gorgeous flowers which provide perfume ingredients. Or perhaps not.


    May 27, 2018 at 6:20 AM

  10. Detached from its stalk that really could just be an assemblage of ‘elements’ – and (reading the first comment), yes a Michelin starred chef’s hors d’oeuvre does spring to mind.


    May 28, 2018 at 12:21 PM

    • Seems like some of you were hungry when you got to this post. It’s good that you ate the image up, visually speaking.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2018 at 5:51 AM

  11. The flower head is so different .. as is the flower. Super images Steve


    May 28, 2018 at 2:37 PM

  12. Thank you for letting us know about this unusually-shaped flower with its perfect name.


    May 29, 2018 at 1:55 PM

    • I’m almost as happy about the name as I am about the flower itself. Well, that may be an exaggeration, even if I’m enthusiastic about both.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2018 at 10:01 PM

  13. […] via Fragrance where you don’t normally find it — Portraits of Wildflowers […]

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