Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

More from Doeskin Ranch

with 37 comments

The seed heads of little bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium) that played a supporting role in the prior post’s second photograph from the Doeskin Ranch on November 24th last fall were so densely yummy that I feel I owe you a picture of them in their own right:

Near an isolated little bluestem I found a milkweed pod (Asclepias spp.) releasing its silk-attached seeds. Notice the bright red-orange nymph, presumably of a milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus).

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 13, 2019 at 4:30 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

37 Responses

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  1. It is similar to milkweed: the densely packed “silk” fibers on which the seed float away, each on its own coma.


    January 13, 2019 at 4:40 AM

  2. Those are beautiful, especially the milkweed. I remember them from back east. They were everywhere. I don’t see these in my immediate area here out west, and I wonder if it is the heavy wet clay soil in winter and drought conditions in summer that discourage them.

    Lavinia Ross

    January 13, 2019 at 8:15 AM

    • For whatever reason, this was the only seed-dispersing milkweed pod I came across all year. I’m sorry your gap in seeing any is much longer. On the good side, the BONAP maps at


      show several Asclepias species growing in Oregon, with at least one in practically every county. With a little luck you’ll find a few this coming year. Perhaps people from the Native Plant Society of Oregon could point you to some likely places in your area:


      Steve Schwartzman

      January 13, 2019 at 9:38 AM

      • Thanks for the links, Steve. I have bookmarked them. I am looking for more carefree, drought tolerant species of all kinds as well.

        Lavinia Ross

        January 15, 2019 at 10:40 AM

  3. That certainly is a milkweed bug nymph, and a beautiful pod. I’m thinking it’s a species other than antelope horn, given how slender it is, but it hardly matters, given how nicely it opened for you. That little blue is scrumptious. I don’t know if I’m more fond of the color or the way it can sparkle in the sun, but I never can get enough of it.


    January 13, 2019 at 7:05 PM

    • Not enough of the plant remained for me to take a stab at figuring out the species. Oh well, I’m happy to have been let off the hook, botanically speaking. When it comes to the late stage of little bluestem, I’m with you in relishing both the color and the sparkle in the sun, and in feeling that I never get enough of this grass.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 13, 2019 at 10:32 PM

  4. It took a bit of research, but I finally found some local, native milkweed seed to try planting here. Waiting impatiently to see if they’re liking the new location. It’s been a rather dry, but warm winter here so far.


    January 13, 2019 at 9:18 PM

    • Good for you for tracking down a species of milkweed native to your area. Let’s hope it thrives in your location. I’ve read that some people who want to support monarch butterflies plant tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica, and there’s a controversy about whether that’s beneficial or harmful.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 14, 2019 at 5:24 AM

  5. I’d be happy with the seed image even without the milkweed bug nymph.

    Steve Gingold

    January 14, 2019 at 6:10 PM

  6. The milkweed pod looks awesome!


    January 15, 2019 at 12:15 PM

  7. Great closeup … I spotted the insect too for a change 🙂


    January 17, 2019 at 12:30 PM

  8. “Densely yummy”~I love that and you’re right, it is. I believe you’re right about the nymph. I hate them. They become quite numerous and make quite a mess of a milkweed; I’ve noticed that there is never a caterpillar on a milkweed that is infected with these beetles.


    January 25, 2019 at 9:52 AM

    • I’ve known native plant people to see dense autumn grasses like this and say they seem good enough to eat.

      I’ve never thought about the consequences of milkweed bugs for monarch butterflies. I imagine someone must have studied that. I see that in addition to milkweed bugs there are milkweed beetles, which are also orange and black.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 25, 2019 at 12:31 PM

      • Oh, ah. I was using the term “bugs” loosely. It is the beetles I object to. I imagine the bugs are smaller and less of an issue.


        January 28, 2019 at 9:15 AM

        • I don’t know what damage the milkweed bugs might do, but I’ve been seeing them pretty often for two decades and this area still manages to produce plenty of milkweeds.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 28, 2019 at 9:41 AM

          • This area does too. They are just a part of our wonderful web of life. I’m reading “Teaching the Trees” by Joan Maloof. All of her books are good, really. She explores all these sorts of things.


            January 29, 2019 at 9:43 AM

            • I hadn’t heard of her but I see four of her books on Amazon.

              Steve Schwartzman

              January 29, 2019 at 4:18 PM

              • I’ve read two so far and enjoyed them both. I got them from the library but I did buy one.


                January 30, 2019 at 10:01 AM

                • I see that the Austin Public Library has three of her books, so I may take a look.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  January 30, 2019 at 10:37 AM

                • If you do I hope you enjoy them. I find her writing more readable than some nature writers.


                  January 30, 2019 at 10:42 AM

                • I just wrote a post on my new blog here at WP…does the link above take you to it?


                  January 30, 2019 at 11:08 AM

                • Oh rats. I just tried it and it takes you to the one that is gone. 😦


                  January 30, 2019 at 11:08 AM

                • Maybe WordPress can tell you how to change the URL that clicking on your name sends people to.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  January 30, 2019 at 1:31 PM

                • In my WP Dashboard I see icons running down the left edge. I hovered over the Users icon, the one that looks like a stylized head and shoulders, and from the choices that popped out I took Personal Settings. There in Web Address I could change the URL that a click on my name takes people to.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  January 30, 2019 at 1:38 PM

                • Oh, cool. I’ll try that.


                  January 31, 2019 at 8:39 AM

                • By the way, from the Settings icon (which looks like two crosses or keys, one of them upside down) you can choose General to also change the time so it reflects your local time rather than Greenwich Mean Time as it currently does.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  January 31, 2019 at 8:50 AM

                • I purposely leave it that way, as well as various other misdirections regarding my age and location.


                  February 1, 2019 at 9:04 AM

                • We wouldn’t want people to know that you’re 18 and live in Thailand.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 1, 2019 at 11:39 AM

                • Hahaha! Nope, we sure wouldn’t.


                  February 2, 2019 at 8:05 AM

                • But we would like them to puzzle over the fact that at 18 you have children who are older than you.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 2, 2019 at 8:16 AM

                • I am a woman of mystery.


                  February 2, 2019 at 8:28 AM

                • the new address is melissabluefineartblog.wordpress.com


                  January 30, 2019 at 11:09 AM

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