Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

How something can land

with 36 comments

On May 1st we went walking in our neighborhood. A few blocks from home I noticed that a drupe from a yaupon tree (Ilex vomitoria) had fallen onto an agave and gotten caught in the crook of one of the plant’s thorns. How long had the little fruit been trapped like that? Perhaps a few days, given how shriveled it was.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 21, 2020 at 4:29 AM

36 Responses

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  1. That reminds me of the clutch of yaupon drupes I found in a tree stump some months ago. I kept an eye on them, thinking some critter might have stashed them there, but they stayed for weeks, shriveling like this one. I finally decided one of the limbs high above the stump must have been yaupon, and they merely dropped down to their final resting place.


    May 21, 2020 at 4:33 AM

  2. what an interesting find, you have such a good eye for detail


    May 21, 2020 at 5:27 AM

    • Thanks. I could easily have walked right by and missed it. Fortunately it caught my eye, and after our walk I came back with my camera and macro lens.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 21, 2020 at 8:14 AM

  3. Unbelievable. 🙂


    May 21, 2020 at 6:02 AM

  4. Well caught by you and the agave thorn.


    May 21, 2020 at 6:30 AM

  5. Your keen eye for the unusual things in nature makes your photo stand out, Steve. The red berry makes the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary.

    Peter Klopp

    May 21, 2020 at 8:13 AM

    • Thanks, Peter. These little fruits are only about a quarter of an inch (6mm) in diameter. Fortunately the bright red color made this one easier to spot against the gray-green of the agave.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 21, 2020 at 8:19 AM

  6. What an unusual photo, very intriguing, the berry is almost jewel-like in this setting.

    Robert Parker

    May 21, 2020 at 9:09 AM

  7. Especially nice. Very graphic quality. You have a good eye. I enjoy your work

    Nancy Basinger

    May 21, 2020 at 11:02 AM

    • Thanks. I was pleased with the opportunity to do close takes on this from various angles. The fact that all of the drupe and the thorn holding it are sharp, while little else is, contributed to making this portrait one of my favorites.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 21, 2020 at 12:48 PM

  8. I would also call it a jewel of a picture.

    Michael Scandling

    May 21, 2020 at 11:08 AM

  9. ‘Tis a gift to come down where you want to be.


    May 22, 2020 at 2:10 AM

    • A well-chosen quotation. (Tangentially, it always strikes me as a bit strange that Gift means poison in German.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 22, 2020 at 6:55 AM

      • And the German word Mist means manure. Go figure.


        May 22, 2020 at 3:19 PM

        • I didn’t know about Mist. You may or may not be surprised that English manure is historically the same word as maneuver. “Go figure” is an appropriate thing to say to a math person.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 22, 2020 at 3:41 PM

          • So it’s safe to say to someone mathematically talented–but hopefully not Germanically gifted.


            May 24, 2020 at 4:55 AM

            • That’s a good play on words with gifted. In college I took a year of German, which I didn’t find toxic at all. I even learned a poem by Rilke, which at one time I could recite from memory:


              Steve Schwartzman

              May 24, 2020 at 6:16 AM

              • From you past comments, I thought you’d have had way more than a year of German studies. It seems you’re (at least a bit) gifted after all! I think you know I completed my veterinary degree in Berlin. I had one year of German in college, my junior year, before I packed up one suitcase and my guitar and flew there in ’68 into total immersion.


                May 24, 2020 at 4:38 PM

                • Then we both had that initial year. Your total immersion in Germany afterwards made all the difference. I have enough of a flair for languages that I could’ve gone further with German and done well but I was already heavily immersed in the Romance languages and kept on going with those.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  May 24, 2020 at 6:42 PM

  10. Now, if only it had fallen onto the thorn and been pierced and in place… (too bad you have the ethical strength to avoid posing a picture like that… 🙂 ) But happy that you have the eye to notice and share what you do see.


    May 22, 2020 at 11:20 AM

  11. A very cool observation and detail shot.


    May 22, 2020 at 5:08 PM

  12. We probably couldn’t make that happen if we tried a thousand times.

    Steve Gingold

    May 23, 2020 at 3:01 PM

  13. You landed on an excellent design for this image. Fiery reds, cool dark shadows.


    May 23, 2020 at 8:53 PM

  14. Interesting! Recently I saw something similar. Joe and I were walking in the state park the other day and noticed that a little tip that is shed off the new growth of a conifer – there must be a botanical term for those papery, protective sheaths – was caught in a horsetail (E. arvense, sterile stalk), in the oddest way. It was lodged a few levels down from the top of the plant, near the stalk. I picked it up and dropped it from a foot above the top of the horsetail. Guess what – it got caught in exactly the same way, again. It hit the branch and then rolled down towards the stalk instead of bouncing off. We felt the horsetail and realized the branches, thin as they are, have teeth going in one direction, and that’s why the sheath got caught. Don’t you love these mysteries? 🙂


    May 24, 2020 at 11:26 AM

    • I do. I had an indoor experience of that type back in the 1970s. I was sitting, and a full-size (8.5 x 11) unfolded piece of paper slipped off my lap. It landed in a vertical position with one of its long edges touching the floor—and amazingly stayed upright. The slight curvature of the sheet must have been just enough, along with whatever air currents were in the room, to keep the paper upright in that unnatural position. I’d never seen anything like it and figured I never would again, but on a whim I picked up the paper, held it at the height of my lap, and let go of it. Amazingly it did the same thing as before. Further attempts failed, and in the decades since then I’ve never seen a piece of paper land on edge like that again.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 24, 2020 at 2:41 PM

  15. A grand shot Steve …


    May 25, 2020 at 2:23 PM

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