Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Peppervine turning colors

with 8 comments

As another example of fall foliage in Austin, above is a view from the afternoon of November 10th showing a peppervine (Nekemias arborea) turning colors on a black willow tree (Salix nigra) that it had climbed at the Riata Trace Pond. The next morning I went back and took pictures by different light of another peppervine that had turned even more colorful, as shown below. About halfway up the left edge of the second picture you may notice some of the vine’s little fruits that had darkened as they ripened. Peppervine, which some people mistake for poison ivy, grows in the southeastern United States. If you’d like a closer look at the vine’s leaves, you can check out a post from the first months of this blog.

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as publick Liberty, without Freedom of Speech; which is the Right of every Man, as far as by it, he does not hurt or controul the Right of another: and this is the only Check it ought to suffer, and the only Bounds it ought to know. / This sacred Privilege is so essential to free Governments, that the Security of Property, and the Freedom of Speech always go together; and in those wretched Countries where a man cannot call his Tongue his own, he can scarce call any Thing else his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” — Benjamin Franklin (synthesizing other people’s thoughts), 1722.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 22, 2020 at 4:38 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , , ,

8 Responses

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  1. I’ve always enjoyed peppervine for its bright red new growth, and for its berries that present multiple colors as they ripen, but I’ve never seen a display like this. The vine can be thick down here; perhaps its ‘autumnal form’ doesn’t linger long after cooler temperatures bring a turn, or perhaps I’ve just missed it. At least now I know what it’s capable of.

    Your quotation reminded me of this. I’ve had a draft about Hans and Sophie Scholl and the White Rose movement lingering in my files. It might be a good time to finish it.


    November 22, 2020 at 5:31 AM

    • These two peppervine displays were a novelty for me because, like you, I hadn’t known how colorful this species is capable of becoming in the fall. The colors also let me see how high the vine can climb, as my associations have been with peppervines within several feet of the ground, where they’re closer to eye level and easier to notice. Of course I welcome any new source of colorful fall foliage, given the general scarcity of that down here.

      Also new to me was the song you linked, similar indeed to the sentiments the young Benjamin Franklin put forth. I hope you’ll finish that lingering post. The message is particularly important these days.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 22, 2020 at 6:41 AM

  2. I’d hate to not call my tongue my own, it would be horrible to have someone else’s. Seriously though, freedom of the press has really been under attack, while at the same time so many “news” sites are nothing but propaganda and falsehoods. So Facebook, Twitter, all the social media sites face some of the same issues that we did when the Alien and Sedition Acts were created — people printing libels and malicious lies.

    Robert Parker

    November 22, 2020 at 6:37 AM

    • I’ll take your first sentence as being tongue in cheek. Regarding the serious part that follows, the recent and worsening assaults on free expression in our country have troubled me a lot. For some years I’ve unhappily watched the trend worsen, though never did I expect the exponential increase in blatant and unapologetic censorship that came to us in 2020. Many “news” outlets now routinely don’t report news stories that contradict the dogma they adhere to. Failure to report actual occurrences is a kind of censorship, too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 22, 2020 at 6:50 AM

  3. The fall colours in Texas may not be as spectacular as in our northern latitudes but as your two photos show they can be very beautiful. And I suspect the leaves hang onto their branches a lot longer.

    Peter Klopp

    November 22, 2020 at 8:22 AM

    • You suspect correctly. Although some leaves have been falling here, many remain even as we go into the last week in November. Just yesterday I saw flameleaf sumac trees with their leaves turning colors in various places as I drove around. Because we have so much less of colorful fall foliage here, I value what we do have all the more, and I eagerly seek it out to take pictures of. There’ll be more posts showing that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 22, 2020 at 9:00 AM

  4. There’s a reason the founders made that the first of the amendments.

    Steve Gingold

    November 23, 2020 at 3:53 AM

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