Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

More bending

with 52 comments

Following in the tradition of the right-angled rain-lily and the retro-tipped pink evening primrose bud you’ve recently seen in these pages, here’s a Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera) with a bent central column that I found by the pond at the south end of the Arbor Walk on April 15th. The blue is water, not sky.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 27, 2020 at 4:40 AM

52 Responses

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  1. how interesting –


    April 27, 2020 at 4:53 AM

    • I’m always looking for anomalies.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 27, 2020 at 6:37 AM

      • You have a good eye for them


        April 27, 2020 at 6:55 AM

        • I do my best to notice them. I go out in nature as often as I do on the proportional assumption that the more exposure to nature I get, the more anomalies will come my way.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 27, 2020 at 6:59 AM

  2. burst out laughing when I spotted this in the Reader feed – very funny 🙂

    Ms. Liz

    April 27, 2020 at 4:57 AM

    • Let’s hear it for levity. Mexican hats seem more prone than most species to getting bent this way, though I have no idea why that is.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 27, 2020 at 6:39 AM

  3. I had the same reaction as Ms. Liz, struck me as the Jimmy Durante of the plant world, or a big-nosed cartoon character, maybe Squidward from SpongeBob.

    Robert Parker

    April 27, 2020 at 6:49 AM

    • I’m surprised that you know about Jimmy Durante. You may not be surprised that I’ve never heard of Squidward. I like the sound of the name, which could mean ‘heading toward a squid.’

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 27, 2020 at 6:57 AM

      • My grandfather used to play movies & shows on VHS tapes for me. Mr. Durante had an interesting voice. Squidward is a memorable cartoon character, kind of the negative foil to SpongeBob’s constant bubbliness, and a terrible clarinet player.

        Robert Parker

        April 27, 2020 at 7:04 AM

        • I’d imagined it was your father who exposed you to Durante; I was off by a generation. Yes, his voice was distinctive, as Tom Waits’s was a few decades later.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 27, 2020 at 7:07 AM

          • I get a kick out of Tom Waits, and his raspy patter, but can’t listen too much, or my throat starts feeling raw. I love “Step Right Up” which must sample 200 hucksters, advertising slogans, late night TV pitches, etc. It’s kind of mind-numbing but very cool.

            Robert Parker

            April 27, 2020 at 11:19 AM

    • Now here’s a coincidence: Turner Classic Movies has been showing Jimmy Durante movies this afternoon.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 27, 2020 at 3:26 PM

  4. Mexican Hat is one of my favorite wildflowers. We have a nice patch of it growing in the orchard near the slough. Each year, I collect spent seed heads and cast them in other areas, hoping to promote growth all over the property. It seems to be a very resilient plant. I can’t recall seeing one with a bent hat before. It makes me think it is the result of a few very windy days!!


    April 27, 2020 at 7:37 AM

    • Somehow I didn’t think about the possibility of wind as the agent. I was assuming an animal or possibly a virus caused the damage.

      I get the impression that some or many people consider Mexican hats weedy. Like you, I’m fond of them and have taken many pictures of them over the past two decades.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 27, 2020 at 3:37 PM

      • I find them festive and bright! They always bring a smile when I see them dancing in the breeze or standing still on a hot day.


        April 27, 2020 at 4:22 PM

        • Then we’re two peas in a pod, or more appropriately two hats on the rack.
          So far this year I haven’t seen any good Mexican hat colonies, but I’ve seen the promise of some.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 27, 2020 at 4:25 PM

  5. Mind bending flower bending. Great find, great shot!


    April 27, 2020 at 8:33 AM

    • Ah ha, a double bending; two for the price of one. And double great to boot. A winsome twinsome.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 27, 2020 at 3:55 PM

  6. The bent Mexican hat looks great against the watery background, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    April 27, 2020 at 8:34 AM

    • I moved around a bunch trying to line the Mexican hat up with the water. It wasn’t easy, because slight movements on my part made the flower head “touch” parts of the far shore.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 27, 2020 at 3:58 PM

  7. Somebody needs to go to a hatter’s to get that Mexican Hat straightened. 😉


    April 27, 2020 at 8:59 AM

    • Now why didn’t I think of that?
      A few years ago I learned that the expression “mad as a hatter” arose from the fact that hatters once used chemicals containing mercury, and the long exposure to that element affected them mentally.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 27, 2020 at 4:03 PM

  8. I was thinking of a strange cartoon character or a boxing glove. But, Durante, maybe…

    Michael Scandling

    April 27, 2020 at 10:54 AM

  9. Awww, the poor, deflated thing just needs a little more air! Do you have a bicycle pump?


    April 27, 2020 at 3:21 PM

  10. I laughed as soon as I saw this. It looks rather like the forefinger on my right hand, although mine is canted sideways rather than downward, thanks to thirty years of wielding a brush. It also brought to mind that favorite bluegrass song of mine that I’ve mentioned before: “I Ain’t Broke, But I’m Badly Bent.” It’s become a classic, but it goes back to Lattie Moore in the 1950s.

    I wonder if that brown slash at the bend appeared before or after the change in direction. Whichever, it’s a gorgeous photo. The flower head really gleams against that sky-like water.


    April 28, 2020 at 7:29 AM

    • I suspect you’re unique in making that association with a crooked finger. Do you know whether other people who’ve wielded a brush for decades end up the same way? As for the song title, it’s a clever play on two senses of broke. One thing that caught my attention about the bending of the Mexican hat column is that the bend seems not to have affected the graceful curves of the disk florets.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 28, 2020 at 8:02 AM

  11. Somebody give that plant a drink. Seems rather thirsty.

    Steve Gingold

    April 28, 2020 at 2:22 PM

    • Except for the bending this actually looks pretty normal for a Mexican hat, and we’d had sufficient rain.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 28, 2020 at 2:34 PM

  12. Wow, what a cool find. It makes me think of a smurf hat! Other than being a funny and cute hat it is quite beautiful. I was definitely thinking sky but now I can’t not see that the blue is water. Great share thank you!


    April 28, 2020 at 6:54 PM

  13. Beautiful light!!


    April 28, 2020 at 8:12 PM

  14. Just bizarre, but it shouldn’t surprise us, should it? Nature is full of oddities. I’m always seeing trees that suddenly took a right turn years ago, or even a 180. It makes you think about the way we judge people who are different!


    May 2, 2020 at 1:37 PM

    • Yes, full of oddities. I know what you mean about trees bent 90° or 180° and on rare occasions even more. I hadn’t thought of making an analogy to people, but sure.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 2, 2020 at 4:04 PM

  15. Might be an odd shape … but still catches the eye! Top shot btw


    May 3, 2020 at 2:41 PM

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