Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

More on elderberry

with 25 comments

To atone for never having shown elderberry in the eight years of this blog, in the last post I featured the shrub’s bright white flowers. Today let me atone some more and show what the buds look like. Because the open flowers are small, just 1/8–1/4 of an inch across (3–6mm), the buds are even smaller, yet they already show the fiveness of the flowers. (The leaf at the bottom right is from a mustang grape vine.)

And now let me take the post’s title literally. Click the tiny box below to see the commensurately tiny creature I found on some adjacent elderberry buds.

If you’d like to know what that colorful nymph is, you can go to the appropriate page at Bug Guide, which identified it for me. Thanks, Bug Guide.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 7, 2019 at 4:37 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

25 Responses

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  1. When you mentioned tiny creature I thought you might have meant one of these elderberry borers. Your Aztec Spur-throat nymph is a little cutie. BugGuide.net is an awesome place.

    Steve Gingold

    June 7, 2019 at 5:04 AM

    • I never heard of elderberry borers but I see they share colors with the Aztec spur-throat nymph. Yes, the people who volunteer at BugGuide are great. I got my identification in minutes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 7, 2019 at 6:58 AM

  2. High five for a nice bug portrait.
    One of my aunts has red and black elderberry bushes at her house, and makes jelly – it’s pretty tasty, and a beautiful color. Her jelly-making process depends on having lots of grandkids visiting, to pick all those tiny berries. It may seem heartless, but I don’t think Aztecs are invited to share in the jelly-making.

    Robert Parker

    June 7, 2019 at 7:40 AM

    • I just confirmed online that this bush grows as far south as Panama, so excluding Aztecs from making jelly from the fruit would be hard-hearted indeed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 7, 2019 at 8:43 AM

  3. Cute little bug! And elderberry is a beautiful specimen.

    Misti Little

    June 7, 2019 at 8:09 AM

  4. I like your focus on the very small. Your picture is very beautiful, Steven. The macro of the insect is exceptional in its clarity.

    Peter Klopp

    June 7, 2019 at 8:31 AM

  5. Is that a red elderberry? It does not look at all familiar.


    June 8, 2019 at 2:59 AM

    • It’s Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 8, 2019 at 6:45 AM

      • Well, that would be the ‘common’ black elderberry, although from my perspective, there is nothing ‘common’ about them.


        June 9, 2019 at 2:30 PM

        • I’m with you in that thought,” though I’ve most often said it about the “common” sunflower.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 9, 2019 at 8:35 PM

          • Well, we lack those too, although they used to be grown for oil here.


            June 9, 2019 at 8:41 PM

            • Texas has both wild sunflowers and the large agricultural ones that produce seeds and oil.

              Steve Schwartzman

              June 9, 2019 at 8:56 PM

              • I always think of sunflowers as the all-American wildflower, even though those that are native to California are very different from those in most of America.


                June 9, 2019 at 9:16 PM

  6. Looking at this view of the leaves, I’m pretty sure now that I did find elderberry. These buds are delightful. I once found a plant with similar buds down on the coast; each bud was about a third the size of a hoverfly, and looked like a tiny head of cauliflower. Unfortunately, the plant (Parthenium hysterophorus) is introduced, and isn’t nearly so desirable as your elderberry.


    June 8, 2019 at 6:05 AM

    • You’ve just made me realize that Austin has both the non-native Parthenium hysterophorus and the native H. confertum, and I don’t know how to tell them apart. Their flower heads do look like miniature cauliflowers, don’t they. I’ve never thought to find out whether they also taste like cauliflower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 8, 2019 at 6:56 AM

  7. Well, the bug is unbelievable, and the way you led up to it by putting it in that tiny box – brilliant. 🙂 But I am also very, very happy with the Elderberry. I really like plain white wildflowers, and I like buds that have simple structure like this. Then the buds play with the leaf veining, and we have it ALL! 🙂


    June 11, 2019 at 7:41 PM

    • Thanks for letting me know you like the tiny box. I’ve used that approach a bunch of times over the years to create a surprise but I have the impression that some viewers, perhaps many, only look at the large photograph at the top and go no further.

      Thanks also for your exuberant “and we have it ALL!”

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 11, 2019 at 9:36 PM

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