Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 42 comments

Apropos of nothing in particular, don’t you love how stilted some spam comments are? Here’s a recent one I got: “A person essentially lend a hand to make significantly posts I would state. This is the first time I frequented your web page and up to now? I surprised with the analysis you made to make this particular submit extraordinary. Magnificent job!” What can I say? I’ve made to make all my submits extraordinary.

I’m reading Charles MacKay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds, which first appeared in 1841. What ever could have made me turn to such a book?

Because of the pandemic, people in nudist resorts are having to wear face masks. Yes, and they’re not happy about it; they say it ruins the experience. Oh well, in this case it’s better to be completely virus-free than completely clothing-free, don’t you think?

And because this is a nature photography blog, I guess I should include a picture. Here from June 6th in my neighborhood is a flowering silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) with some spider silk on it.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 6, 2020 at 4:41 AM

42 Responses

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  1. I hadn’t looked at my spam comments for a while, and they’re certainly interesting. I’d say your submits make extraordinary pretty regularly, so I’m with your spammer on that one.

    Your reference to MacKay’s book reminded me of a piece I found when I was roaming around Ian Chadwick’s blog. Titled “When Good People Do Bad Things in Groups, it’s as relevant today as it was when he wrote it in 2014.

    As for that nightshade, it’s still one of my favorite flowers. You have to admire a plant that can force its way through blacktop.


    July 6, 2020 at 6:59 AM

    • Normally the only reason I check the spam folder is to pull out the occasional legitimate comment that mistakenly gets put there. That’s what I was doing the other day when I noticed the spam comment I quoted.

      Thanks for the link to that article. How good of recent technology to confirm what people have long known about the volatility of crowds, and how readily the people in them can turn to rioting.

      I don’t recall seeing a silverleaf nightshade forcing its way through pavement, though I’ve seen other species do that trick.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2020 at 3:54 PM

  2. Effortless my dear gentleman quite a distance rocket and a fine arugula

    Robert Parker

    July 6, 2020 at 7:10 AM

  3. Was there any doubt that all of your submits are extraordinary? And that book you’re reading… I say destroy that book at once!!

    The silverleaf nightshades are really showing their stuff at the west end of the pecan orchard this year (near that Gum bumelia tree) and make for a lovely sea of light gray and soft lavender from a distance. Yesterday as we drove the Kawasaki mule around to check fences, I realized I missed the flowering stage of that Gum bumelia. But alas, it looks as if there are going to be many drupes on the tree this year! I’ll be out there harvesting for the triplets… competing with the other wild critters.


    July 6, 2020 at 8:53 AM

    • Maybe I should change my blog’s subtitle to “the home of extraordinary submits.”

      The book I mentioned is good. Up to the point where I’ve read so far, it documents two bubbles in stock speculation in the 1700s, one in France and the other in Britain.

      I can see where you’d enjoy the “lovely sea of light gray and soft lavender” you described. Silverleaf nightshade is one of the most common wildflowers here and can be found for much of the year.

      I’ve heard of gum bumelia but am not familiar with it. You clearly are. Wikipedia says: “The fruit of Bumelia lanuginosa is edible but can cause stomach aches or dizziness if eaten in large quantities. The Kiowa and Comanche tribes both consumed them when ripened. Gum from the trunk of the tree is sometimes chewed by children.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2020 at 4:04 PM

  4. I’d rather look at flowers than nudists with or without masks. Haha!

    Peter Klopp

    July 6, 2020 at 9:26 AM

    • Then you’ve come to the right place because you’ll find plenty of the former and none of the latter here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2020 at 3:48 PM

  5. These are crazy, unsettling times, Steve. I do love stopping by and looking at all these beautiful photos you take. They are food for the soul. Thank you!

    I love nightshade blooms, potato blooms and tomato blooms. 🙂

    Lavinia Ross

    July 6, 2020 at 10:58 AM

    • Let’s hear it for the nightshade family!

      Yes, going out into nature—which I’ve been doing a lot of—is one way to get away from all the social chaos.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2020 at 4:10 PM

  6. What magnificent workings you are doing with sumptuous pictures of naturally. I am liking them and making generous offer for to share with you the fortunes of my distant relative in Blasphemia. Perhaps you could get many others to crowd with you in acceptance.

    Michael Scandling

    July 6, 2020 at 11:16 AM

  7. Spam can be entertaining sometimes, but annoying all the time, IMO. I often wonder what kind of person would devote time to such a pursuit and more importantly, why? It is beyond rational thought.

    Eliza Waters

    July 6, 2020 at 11:58 AM

    • I can’t help thinking that spam must work at least a little, if in no other way than getting people to click to see what site the spam came from. I’ve often thought that an appropriate punishment for convicted spammers is one minute in prison for each piece of spam sent out. For the some spammers that would be a life sentence.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2020 at 4:18 PM

  8. That nudist story reminds me of stories about men wearing only socks in x-rated movies. I can’t make up my mind about which is worse…spam emails and comments or that actual “meat” product. Somehow I got on a list as “Sarah” Gingold, which coincidentally was my paternal grandmother’s name, and I get endless email addressed that way. Not all are in awkward English but most are. I’ve always read that best practice is to just ignore them and not try to get delisted…all it does is encourage the bots to send more. I haven’t checked my spam folder in a while and should because occasionally a legitimate comment ends up there.

    Steve Gingold

    July 7, 2020 at 4:38 AM

    • I hadn’t heard about wearing nothing but socks in x-rated movies.

      When I became acquainted with the Philippines, I was surprised to learn that many people there think Spam is the greatest, even to the point of taking quantities of it back home with them after they visit the United States. Go figure.

      I used to have two e-mail addresses I liked but eventually had to give both of them up because I got so much spam. These days my e-mail service provider does a pretty good job of keeping spam from reaching my inbox. The only reason I noticed the WordPress spam I quoted was that I was checking to make sure no legitimate comment mistakenly got sent to the spam folder.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 7, 2020 at 6:02 AM

      • That’s the only reason I check mine also.

        Steve Gingold

        July 7, 2020 at 6:37 AM

        • It’s been a good while since I found a misplaced real comment in there. Lately the same comment repeated over and over has taken up most of my spam folder: “Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?”

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 7, 2020 at 6:59 AM

          • I just checked mine and one was legitimate and the other 14 were either related to sex or Canadian pharmaceuticals. It’s hard to believe that anyone bites on any of those but I guess they wouldn’t do it if not. Of course most if not all are probably bots so no one is investing their time.

            Steve Gingold

            July 7, 2020 at 6:27 PM

            • You prompted me to check again just now. I found two items, and both were “Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?”

              Steve Schwartzman

              July 7, 2020 at 6:30 PM

              • I checked that phrase on Google and it is a bot from Spain. One person said the bot had placed over 30,000 entries over two weeks. Be thankful that’s not you. If you don’t check your spam folder they disappear anyway after 30 days or so they say.

                Steve Gingold

                July 7, 2020 at 6:50 PM

  9. Mostly I get “Hot Russian/Asian/Bored housewives are wanting to date you” messages in my spam folder, but every now and then I find something that shouldn’t be there. Nudists or “naturists” as they are apparently referred to across the “pond” have often found our native plant society website in their searches.
    Since the great massacree of standing wildflowers in full bloom back on May 26, the natives have returned in force, along with opportunists like Johnson grass (Sorghum halapense). Most of the natives have been silverleaf nightshade, though there is some Yellow Ground Cherry (Physalis viscosa), Dakota vervain, Texas vervain, and more than a few Devil’s Claw/Ram’s Horn (Proboscidea louisianica). Some of the nightshades might be Solanum dimidiatum, Western Horse Nettle, but I will have to look more closely to see if they have the spines on the leaves and stems that differentiate them from silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) without going so far as to “grasp the nettle.”.
    And yes, your excellent grasp of the subject matter has proved most enlightening, to use one of the less awkward wordings in spam messages.


    July 7, 2020 at 11:13 AM

    • For whatever reason, I don’t get much spam of the “Hot Russian/Asian/Bored housewives are wanting to date you” type. I wasn’t aware that naturists doing Internet searches get hits for the Native Plant Society.

      Where was the massacre of standing wildflowers on May 26? I noticed Mopac and US 183 were both mowed last month.

      Devil’s claw is a wildflower I don’t often come across. The last time I saw one was on September 8 in my part of Austin:


      This year I’ve seen both of the Solanum species you mentioned, with elaeagnifolium (shown above) being much more numerous, as has always been the case in my experience.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 7, 2020 at 6:27 PM

      • The great wildflower “massacree” of May 26 (thanks Arlo Guthrie) was on the berm behind my house, when the stand of wildflowers in bloom was mowed down by the folks hired by Cat Hollow. I foolishly called the company to complain instead of getting out there and blocking off the stand to prevent them from mowing it. I had removed about 10 contractors’ bags of Lolium perenne and Malta Star Thistle from the berm during the past three months.
        Driving down O’Connor Road between 620 and Toll 45 this morning, I noticed tall, lush growth of Johnson Grass. Where’s a mower when you need one?


        July 8, 2020 at 11:30 AM

        • I’m sorry to hear about what was lost and also about what was unwillingly gained. Too bad you didn’t think to head off the mowers beforehand. On the other hand, a person can’t be everywhere, nor anticipate everything. Getting rid of lots of Malta star thistle is quite an undertaking. We appreciate it.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 8, 2020 at 3:52 PM

  10. Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds indeed! A great post. Thank you.


    July 8, 2020 at 10:27 AM

    • O tempora, o mores! The Romans had it pegged two thousand years ago. They also said Nihil sub sole novum, Nothing new under the sun. Delusions come and delusions go, but it seems they never go away forever. George Santayana had that one nailed: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 8, 2020 at 3:49 PM

  11. Ow you covered quite a bit this post … probably more than the nudists though! 🙂


    July 12, 2020 at 1:50 AM

  12. Guess I missed this one and I can’t blame the spam folder. This is beautiful! What was not beautiful was going to visit my sister (once) when she lived in a nudist colony in Devore, CA. Putting it as kindly as I can; some people’s forms were never meant to see the light of day. I still can’t “unsee” some of them. From then until she moved from there we visited at our home. 😯


    August 10, 2020 at 6:22 AM

    • I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who lived in a nudist colony. How interesting that your sister did. I guess she didn’t mind the out-of-form bodies that you still can’t unsee. Or perhaps she did: was that a cause of her eventually leaving the place?

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 10, 2020 at 6:34 AM

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