Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Spider-folded greenthread

with 33 comments

A strand of silk reveals that a spider was responsible for the folded-over ray flower on this greenthread (Thelesperma filifolium). Spiders do that to make little hideaways for themselves. The purple flowers in this March 18th view along Mopac were of course bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 10, 2020 at 4:40 AM

33 Responses

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  1. I always love seeing blue and yellow together and your bluebonnets make such a perfect backdrop. No blues here yet (except for the sky) but plenty of yellows blooming (gorse and lesser celandines and dandelions). 😊


    April 10, 2020 at 4:55 AM

    • It’s been 23 days since I took this picture, and both species are still conspicuous, even as bluebonnets are approaching the end of their time. It’s good to hear you’ve got plenty of yellows going already; yellow is such a cheery color. The next time I’m in a place where dandelions are native, I’m going to take a slew of pictures of them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2020 at 7:52 AM

  2. The flower looks like it is covering its face in an “Oh gosh” moment. I love the background in this one.


    April 10, 2020 at 7:41 AM

    • There’s that anthropomorphism again.

      Yes, I pay a lot of attention to backgrounds. In fact last night I gave a presentation to a neighboring county’s Native Plant Society chapter about the importance of the background in nature photography. The presentation was scheduled half a year ago, and I would’ve preferred having a live interaction with people, but the “webinar” we had to resort to worked out okay. In fact I was told that more people were “attending” over the Internet than are normally present at monthly meetings. That’s what happens when almost everyone is stuck at home.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2020 at 8:43 AM

      • Yes, Zoomin is boomin. I agree about the importance of an attractive background.


        April 10, 2020 at 8:51 AM

        • Your reference to zooming and background reminded of the days, decades ago, when I did 3-D photography of the kind that consisted of two images mounted side by side and intended to be looked at through a viewer (the old stereopticon style). Sometimes I would switch the left and right halves of a pair to see the background come zooming forward and the subject get turned inside out as it got pushed to the back. Strange how our brains work.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 10, 2020 at 10:04 AM

  3. Spiders are such enterprising individuals. I enjoyed this beautiful photo, Steve.

    Lavinia Ross

    April 10, 2020 at 10:21 AM

    • Now there’s a concept for you: arachnid entrepreneurs. I undertook to get low enough for the greenthread to look higher than the flowers in the background.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2020 at 3:35 PM

      • The Silk Road was the place to get rich for many centuries, if you were entrepreneurial. And if British lawyers are enterprising and successful, they may “take the silk,” – – the spiders are way ahead of these guys, they can make it themselves

        Robert Parker

        April 10, 2020 at 6:01 PM

        • I had to look that one up: “Queen’s Counsel is an office, conferred by the Crown, that is recognised by courts. Members have the privilege of sitting within the bar of court. The term is recognised as an honorific. As members wear silk gowns of a particular design…, appointment as Queen’s Counsel is known informally as taking silk and QCs are often colloquially called silks.” And some Queen’s Counsels may be able to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 11, 2020 at 11:15 AM

  4. Spiders are clever. Beautiful photograph.

    Michael Scandling

    April 10, 2020 at 3:29 PM

  5. I’ve come across a few spiders that roll leaves but never one the rolled petals. Nice fine and an excellent photograph to display it.

    Steve Gingold

    April 10, 2020 at 3:38 PM

  6. There’s a small colony of jumping spiders in one of our bushes who are fond of (apparently) trying to roll the leaves, but they’re so firm that they usually just wind up making little tents for themselves. These are, however, substantial enough to protect their egg sacs until the spiderlings are ready to hatch. I featured one of these recently: https://krikitarts.wordpress.com/2020/02/04/webnesday-50-helpis-here/


    April 10, 2020 at 5:14 PM

  7. I love Melissa’s thought about the fold. I love the colors in the background with this yellow flower. Nicely framed and photographed, Steve!


    April 10, 2020 at 7:28 PM

    • Thanks, Deborah. Sometimes I go for backgrounds like the lower half, and other times like the upper half. Occasionally I go for variety and put myself in a position where I can have both types of backgrounds in the same picture, as here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 11, 2020 at 10:30 AM

  8. Absent the title, I think I first would have seen this flower as wind-blown. But if I’d come across it in a field, I would have looked for a spider, thanks to your previous posts. As a matter of fact, I found a spider lurking on a folded dewberry blossom not long ago. I think after one or two more posts about the Rockport cemetery, I’ll be ready to move on and show some of the little ‘oddities’ I’ve collected.


    April 11, 2020 at 6:14 AM

    • Looking at the image again, I realized that one detail I really like is the difference between the yellow of the flower, and the yellows in the background.


      April 11, 2020 at 6:16 AM

      • The background yellows were also greenthreads, far enough away to show up for the most part as uniformly sunlit. By contrast, the subject greenthread is close enough to discern the differences between sunlit and shaded areas of yellow, along with some of the venation in the rays.

        Steve Schwartzman

        April 11, 2020 at 10:40 AM

    • You talk about moving on, and I sympathize. This March 18 picture didn’t get posted till April 10. It’s so easy to fall behind the calendar, given the wealth of things to portray in nature, especially in the spring. I went out photographing five times in the past week and got some good pictures each time. Some will surface here, other not. In any case, here’s to your forthcoming cabinet of curiosities.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 11, 2020 at 10:36 AM

  9. This pretty looks a bit shy! I love your background here!


    April 11, 2020 at 6:49 PM

  10. wonderful colours Steve … the spider’s artwork makes the flower look bashful.


    April 17, 2020 at 4:41 PM

    • You’re not alone in seeing it that way. I drove past this spot yesterday and found all the bluebonnets gone but still some greenthreads.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 17, 2020 at 4:46 PM

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