Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Delta arrowhead

with 36 comments

After seven years of promoting local native wildflowers, here’s one I’ve never shown before: Sagittaria platyphylla, called delta arrowhead. I photographed it in a pond on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin on August 17th. Light reflecting off water droplets and passing through my camera lens caused the little nonagons in the upper right. I could’ve taken them out but left them in in the interest of geometry (and so I could write a sentence with in in in it—which now means I’ve also written a sentence with in in in in it, and could extend the series at will).

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 26, 2018 at 4:53 AM

36 Responses

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  1. Gee, I had to look up nonagon, which made more sense after I put my reading glasses on for a more crisp view to see the angles. I am glad you kept them there and explained how this phenomenon occurs. I cannot say that I have ever seen a sentence with in in in in in it. And lastly, I have never heard of a delta arrowhead, and now I have. For a Sunday morning, I’m learning a lot before I even finish my first cup of coffee!


    August 26, 2018 at 6:52 AM

  2. And at the root of all this geometry is a duck potato, which I am sure is as delightful to the waterfowl as your nonagons are to me.


    August 26, 2018 at 7:03 AM

  3. This genus is one of my favorites. I’m not sure I’ve seen this species, but it’s got it all: white, wrinkly petals, a bit of cute fuzziness, and a splash of yellow to brighten things up. It always looks cheerful to me, and it’s especially pretty when there’s enough water around to make its surroundings sparkle.

    Some of the ponds where I’ve found S. lancifolia and S. longiloba in the past dried up this year, but they’re just as happy in ditches, or even the edge of mud flats. During drought, seeing them is a reminder to keep an eye out for snakes and alligators; if this plant has found water, so will they.

    I’ll have to look more closely and see if this one’s around. This is another example of the USDA and BONAP maps differing rather substantially. BONAP says it’s here.


    August 26, 2018 at 8:00 AM

    • I imagine the various Sagittaria various species are more common in your region along the coast than they are here, even with the drought leaving you with fewer ponds than usual. As you say, ditches and mudflats work just fine as a habitat for these water-loving (and -requiring) plants. And while snakes lurk in central Texas, we never have to worry about startling an alligator the way you do.

      Let’s hope BONAP has it right and you locate a specimen of this species. I hope you have a botanical key that lets you sort out the species.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 26, 2018 at 9:55 AM

  4. LOL!

    Jenny Meadows

    August 26, 2018 at 8:15 AM

  5. Very appealing, like a Muppet flower, glad you worked it in in your series.

    Robert Parker

    August 26, 2018 at 8:22 AM

  6. Is that even grammatically acceptable?
    I can not figure out how it blooms. The flowers with those green fuzzy buttons in the middle look nothing like the others with stamens (or whatever those are) in the middle. Are the green fuzzy buttons fruiting structures or . . . something more sinister?


    August 26, 2018 at 1:22 PM

    • Sure. One of the neat things about language is that some syntactic structures can be embedded inside others. After about three levels the meaning can be hard to follow, but no rules are broken.

      I’ve had little experience with this species. I assume the fuzzy green things are developing seed capsules. Plants of Central Texas Wetlands describes the fruits of this species as: “Small, flattened-globose heads of tiny, flattened, beaked, single-seeded achenes.” That seems to fit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 26, 2018 at 2:32 PM

      • That is all they could be. They do look odd thought with the corolla still intact. If the corolla is comprised of bracts, I suppose it would be quite normal, like those of dogwood flowers or poinsettia flowers.


        August 26, 2018 at 10:22 PM

        • Yes, that seems to be all they could be. I still wish field guides more often mentioned the color and texture of a structure to make identification easier.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 27, 2018 at 7:01 AM

  7. What a cheerful post today. The flower is lovely and the comments made me laugh! Thank you Steve 😀


    August 26, 2018 at 2:13 PM

    • You’re welcome, Jude. Give us this day our daily cheer, I always say. I’m happy to hear you found the comments amusing as well. Comments are a fun (and often informative) part of the game.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 26, 2018 at 2:35 PM

      • I did manage a double her in a sentence this weekend. “I really should extricate her from this pot and give her her own space as she is a very pretty flowering fuchsia.”


        August 26, 2018 at 2:38 PM

        • I could describe what you did as “She made her “her her” her own.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 26, 2018 at 2:40 PM

          • This could get silly 😉


            August 26, 2018 at 2:50 PM

            • The Online Etymology Dictionary says of silly:

              The word’s considerable sense development moved from “happy” to “blessed” to “pious,” to “innocent” (c. 1200), to “harmless,” to “pitiable” (late 13c.), “weak” (c. 1300), to “feeble in mind, lacking in reason, foolish” (1570s). Further tendency toward “stunned, dazed as by a blow” (1886) in knocked silly, etc.

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 26, 2018 at 3:03 PM

  8. Hi Steve– So pretty! I call those little nonagons, “bokeh” and they are generally desirable. You left them in in case it looked good. 🙂

    Jane Lurie

    August 26, 2018 at 10:11 PM

    • As a perpetual math teacher, I used nonagon to describe the specific bokeh produced by my camera. Geometry is what I dragged in in any case, even though my camera wasn’t in any case.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 27, 2018 at 7:11 AM

  9. Yes I had to look up nonagons too .. glad you left them there 😊


    August 30, 2018 at 10:45 PM

  10. I like the nonagons in in in the photo. It is nice to see another species of arrowhead, too.


    September 26, 2018 at 5:46 PM

    • It takes three times the number of petals in an arrowhead flower to equal the number of sides in a nonagon. This species of arrowhead doesn’t have leaves shaped like an arrowhead.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 26, 2018 at 6:45 PM

      • I wondered about that. Here, I see ones with very wide arrows and some with very narrow ones. I haven’t looked into this, yet, as to whether they represent two species or the same species under different conditions. What are the leaves like in yours?


        September 27, 2018 at 8:29 AM

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