Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Snow on giant ragweed stalks

with 32 comments

Approaching the end of three hours out in the snow and sleet in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183 on January 10th, I came to a group of Ambrosia trifida. Not for nothing have people given the name giant ragweed to a species that occasionally grows as tall as 5m (16 ft.) Dried out by December, its stalks persist through the winter. Often they remain upright, but sometimes they don’t; snow may have had a hand (does snow have hands?) in making the stalks in the second picture lean more than they already had.

WordPress says this is post number 3333 in Portraits of Wildflowers. Call me dedicated or call me crazy.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 25, 2021 at 4:31 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , ,

32 Responses

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  1. Dedicated. We could say “a long-standing blogger” except you lie down sometimes to take shots.

    Robert Parker

    January 25, 2021 at 5:13 AM

  2. That’s a lot of (brilliant) photos.


    January 25, 2021 at 5:31 AM

  3. You have more followers than posts….keep it up!!


    January 25, 2021 at 2:15 PM

  4. Beautiful photos, Steve. Still no snow here, although we had a little freezing rain early this morning.

    Lavinia Ross

    January 25, 2021 at 2:52 PM

  5. Dedicated!


    January 25, 2021 at 8:48 PM

  6. Is it accidental that a plant that grows to 5m high has a name reminiscent of triffid … beautiful photos!

    anna warren portfolio

    January 26, 2021 at 12:06 AM

    • We’re on the same wavelength. Here’s how a 2008 article of mine on giant ragweed began: “In 1951 the English science fiction writer John Wyndham wrote a novel about plants with a whip-like poisonous stinger that have the ability to communicate with one another. The plants are also able to move about on three ‘legs,’ which explains why Wyndham called his creatures triffids, meaning literally ‘split into three.’ But there’s no need to resort to science fiction when a prolific plant in Texas has some of those same abilities, is a menace to human beings, and even partially shares a name with Wyndham’s creatures; this is Ambrosia trifida, whose species name describes the way the plant’s leaves are typically cleft into three lobes. One of the things that makes this plant a monster is its height, which can reach 15 ft. Another is its success in colonizing land; some authors use the adjective “rank” to describe its growth into dense colonies, and the species has been reported in 47 of the contiguous United States—the good citizens of Nevada may be too busy gambling to have noticed it—and most Canadian provinces.”

      I’m glad you enjoy the pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2021 at 6:15 AM

  7. I like the way the three primary stalks fan out in the foreground of the first photo. It’s not quite as chaotic an image as it might appear at first glance. As for the second, it’s just fun to see those stalks outlined in snow.

    Ragweed reminds me of cedar pollen. We’ve not been as affected this year as we usually are when the wind carries that particular scourge from your part of the state. Is it late this year, or was the pollen load lighter than usual? I’m not complaining, mind you.


    January 26, 2021 at 6:24 AM

    • Your singling out of those primary stalks accords in threeness with giant ragweed, as I mentioned in my reply to the previous comment, which you may well have had in mind.

      Ashe juniper pollen here has varied this season. My eyes were itchy last night, and an online pollen count for the species confirms it was high yesterday. One day last week the count on a local television station got into the very high range. Overall, though, I haven’t been as bothered this season as I’ve been in some years, and that matches your experience.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2021 at 6:37 AM

      • Sometimes I comment before reading the text or comments, and I’d missed the mention of giant ragweed’s ‘threeness.’ Now I know what triffids are, too. I’ve heard the word, but I’m not a science fiction fan, and never had explored its meaning.


        January 26, 2021 at 6:44 AM

        • The fid part of the species name comes from a denasalized form of the same root meaning ‘to strike’ that’s found in defend and fend. As a teenager I read my share of science fiction but then switched to etymology.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 26, 2021 at 6:59 AM

  8. It will come as no surprise that I haven’t heard of that kind of fid, but I’m not surprised that nautically-minded you knows the word.

    Steve Schwartzman

    January 26, 2021 at 7:20 AM

  9. I’m glad to see you got some snow to play in and change things up! You have a great eye for texture.


    January 26, 2021 at 11:55 AM

    • Fortunately texture is around us in many things, no matter how rarely I get to see it in snow and ice the way you do.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2021 at 11:59 AM

  10. We’ve had a few inches of snow overnight so my jealousy is now reduced. It is amazing how snow can totally change the familiar into something else.

    Steve Gingold

    January 27, 2021 at 3:29 AM

  11. I’ll call you dedicated! Wow, 3333! Incredible. These are very nice snow-ragweed studies, Steve.


    January 29, 2021 at 12:38 PM

    • Just don’t neglect the crazy component of that dedication.
      Giant ragweed is a photogenic native plant, and of course one I rarely see in snow.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 29, 2021 at 9:15 PM

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