Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Zebra mesquite

with 40 comments

On June 17th, when I saw how the sun cast shadows of mesquite tree leaflets (Prosopis glandulosa) onto a thorn and the branch it was on, the word zebra popped into my head.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 3, 2020 at 4:47 AM

40 Responses

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  1. Too cool! I always enjoy your sense of humour and word-play! Loved your virtual presentation a couple months ago.

    Anita Westervelt

    July 3, 2020 at 5:16 AM

    • I hope you agree the virtual presentation showed how virtuous I am. Although Austin is having a problem with zebra mussels, I’m happy to report there’s no problem with zebra mesquite.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 3, 2020 at 5:24 AM

    • By the way, titles and words and phrases that end up in my posts sometimes come to me at the same time that I’m still out in nature taking the pictures I show here. I think that was the case with this zebra mesquite.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 3, 2020 at 5:42 AM

  2. Well, this pleasing post proceeded promptly to the point. Nice science fiction-y feel to the shot.

    Robert Parker

    July 3, 2020 at 5:30 AM

    • And I’ll point out that your comment got right to the point as well. It’s interesting that you got a science fiction-y feel from the image. You may not be able to say, but is there something you can single out that made you associate this with science fiction?

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 3, 2020 at 5:39 AM

      • I’m not at all familiar with Mesquite, and I suppose the striped barb suggests a creature to me, rather than a plant. Or a barber.

        Robert Parker

        July 3, 2020 at 5:43 AM

        • I also thought about the resemblance to a barber pole. And the creature you imagined might have been a unicorn, one of the rare striped variety.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 3, 2020 at 5:55 AM

    • Your pointed comment also reminded me of something Thoreau wrote: “For many years I was self-appointed inspector of snow-storms and rain-storms, and did my duty faithfully; surveyor, if not of highways, then of forest paths and all across-lot routes, keeping them open, and ravines bridged and passable at all seasons, where the public heel had testified to their utility.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 3, 2020 at 5:51 AM

  3. Added texture from the pinnate mesquite leaves and strong Texas sun.


    July 3, 2020 at 6:25 AM

    • Good observation. It just occurred to me that if you drop the first letter of pinnate you get innate, just as dropping the first letter of pin gives in.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 3, 2020 at 6:30 AM

  4. That is amazing! Your name is now Sharp-eyed Arty.


    July 3, 2020 at 7:15 AM

  5. 🙂 Well seen!


    July 3, 2020 at 7:48 AM

  6. The sun and the shadow of a plant created a thorn with zebra stripes and this phenomenon also showed that nature is the greatest artist. But it had to take a sharp eye like yours to discover it, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    July 3, 2020 at 8:12 AM

  7. The Reader’s enforced crop made me think of a derelict smokestack from a power station in a post apocalyptic world.

    Michael Scandling

    July 3, 2020 at 10:18 AM

    • Robert imagines something out of science fiction and now you’ve followed up with a post-apocalyptic world. I had no idea this picture was so suggestive.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 3, 2020 at 10:28 AM

  8. Nice!! Great catch! I’m glad zebra stripes popped into your head, rather than the thorn popping onto your head. Ouch!!


    July 3, 2020 at 12:44 PM

    • I like the way you played off the interior of my head against the exterior, and I’m pleased to say I emerged ouchless.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 3, 2020 at 2:32 PM

  9. Wow, Steve, this is fantastic – all the elements work together so well. I love the way those leaves recede into the background.


    July 3, 2020 at 2:42 PM

    • In addition to the receding leaves, I was taken with the blue-indigo glow beyond them; thank you, sky.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 3, 2020 at 3:21 PM

  10. I couldn’t help seeing this as a leaning version of the South Shore lighthouse. It also brought to mind a field of zebras I saw last weekend along Alt90 on my way to the hill country. Real-world associations aside, this is a magical photo. It’s as though some sort of fauna is in the process of emerging from the flora.


    July 3, 2020 at 7:48 PM

    • I can see how the shadowed mesquite thorn conjures up the South Shore lighthouse for you.

      A field of zebras in central Texas? What incongruity.

      In any case, I’m happy to hear you feel magic in this unusual photograph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 3, 2020 at 9:03 PM

  11. The zebra thorn! Brilliant. For a moment I thought it was a giant mosquito piercing the branch ….well, the bionic zebra mosquito! 😉

    marina kanavaki

    July 4, 2020 at 2:47 AM

  12. Nicely seen. Shadowplay is always a good subject.

    Steve Gingold

    July 4, 2020 at 4:23 PM

  13. Zebra Unicorn! . . . or Unicorn Zebra!


    July 5, 2020 at 3:54 PM

  14. I love this picture – there’s so much of interest. The rich colours against the black and white, but especially the vision to notice this as a possibility. I like the idea of a zebra too, although it somehow makes me think of a zebra unicorn. Is that a thing?


    July 6, 2020 at 9:07 AM

    • I was pleased with this picture, too. What caused me to notice the shadows, I’m not sure, but I’ve long had a thing for shadows in photography.

      You’re the second commenter to mention a zebra unicorn, and I’d thought of it too. I’d say there’s just as much of a chance that zebra unicorns exist as that unicorns exist.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2020 at 6:13 PM

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