Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Well, come on, yucca, let’s do the twist

with 28 comments

It’s the distinctive torsion that gives the central Texas endemic called twistleaf yucca (Yucca rupicola) its common name. I can’t explain the bits of red but they add interest to this otherwise yellow-green portrait from northwest Austin on July 13th.

Speaking of twistleaf yucca, I just realized I’d never shown you a portrait of one I made way back on May 1st with a four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris linearifolia) that had nestled against it. Better late than never.

Update to yesterday’s post: I’ve added a closeup showing details in the damselfly’s abdomen and wings.

And here’s an unrelated thought for today: “The pessimist stands beneath the tree of prosperity and growls when the fruit falls on his head.” (This unattributed saying circulated in various American newspapers in the first decade of the 20th century.)

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 29, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , ,

28 Responses

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  1. The Twist is now at least 60 years old, and when that dance craze started, the Charleston was only 37 years old. I guess a lot of the fans still imitating Chubby Checker et al. are doing it with titanium swivel hips.

    Robert Parker

    July 29, 2020 at 7:48 AM

    • You make a good historical point about the relative ages of things. Hard to believe the Charleston was only 37 years old when the twist became the hot new dance. Think of all that happened in between: the Great Depression, World War II, atomic energy, transistors, television, Chinese communism, the Korean War, and many other things. And you’ve coined another funny phrase: “titanium swivel hips.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 29, 2020 at 4:06 PM

  2. I dunno…the twist is pretty good exercise for the hips. If they’ve been doing it faithfully they might still have their own hips! 😀
    These interesting compositions have whetted my appetite for more yucca.


    July 29, 2020 at 8:22 AM

    • So no titanium for faithful twisters.

      I’ve mostly focused on the distinctive leaves of twistleaf yucca. Like other species in the genus, it also has nice flowers, but I didn’t see any to photograph this year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 29, 2020 at 4:11 PM

      • Ah, well, perhaps in the future. By the way, the very evening of the day we were discussing ironweed I took my dog to a park and lo, there was a bunch of it planted along a waterway. That was a very nice surprise.


        July 30, 2020 at 7:58 AM

        • French has a proverb: “Quand on parle du loup, on en voit la queue,” which I’ll translate as “No sooner do you talk about a wolf than you see one’s tail.” In this case it was ironweed instead of a wolf.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 30, 2020 at 12:42 PM

          • ça c’est vrai.


            July 31, 2020 at 8:22 AM

  3. Your creativity of finding original titles for your post is inexhaustible, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    July 29, 2020 at 8:56 AM

    • I haven’t exhausted it yet. Titles for posts often pop into my head, sometimes while I’m still out in nature photographing the thing that will become the subject of a post.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 29, 2020 at 4:14 PM

  4. Wow, not many people are acquainted with the Yucca rupicola.


    July 29, 2020 at 10:22 AM

  5. I did the twist as a kid, but if I did it now, especially the way the yucca does it, I’d be in big trouble and a bit of pain.

    Steve Gingold

    July 30, 2020 at 2:22 AM

    • I try to avoid getting twisted like that when I’m out in nature, too. Same thing if I’m indoors.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 30, 2020 at 10:39 AM

  6. I’m sure this is the first time I’ve come across ‘torsion.’ On the other hand, I do know the idiom for being exasperated, annoyed, angry, or a combination of all three: ‘torqued off.’

    I especially like the second photo. I see a yucca boat with floral passengers setting off, while the flower on the dock turns away, resigned to blooming on land.


    July 30, 2020 at 8:06 AM

    • I took the second picture in a “vacant” lot in my neighborhood where I’d never worked before. Back in May the place was covered in four-nerve daisies and therefore irresistible. Landlubber me, however, saw no boat there.

      Torsion and contortion and torque all go back to the Latin verb torquēre, which meant ‘to twist.’ An Old Norse relative has given us thwart.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 30, 2020 at 10:48 AM

  7. As my ancestry is 100% Norwegian (and my brother and I are the last of our full-blood line), I too have lots of old Norse relatives. But rest assured that I didn’t mention that to thwart your cool wordcraft research.


    July 30, 2020 at 11:35 PM

    • I like the way you played off “old Norse” against “Old Norse.” It’s good that at your age you still have your full blood and haven’t yet lost any.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 31, 2020 at 6:44 AM

      • At least not enough to have made any noticeable difference. At least as far as I can tell. Yet.


        August 1, 2020 at 5:35 AM

        • Your use of “least” reminded me that the similar-sounding “last” is a shortened form of “latest.” Unlike you with regard to blood, “last” has lost something, namely a syllable.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 1, 2020 at 7:45 AM

          • And I dearly hope that it will be, at least, quite some time before we have lost our last.


            August 2, 2020 at 4:52 AM

            • Which reminds me of “The wind blows where it lists” (with list being an archaic verb that meant ‘to be disposed’).

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 2, 2020 at 8:25 AM

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