Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 26 comments

Welcome to tube-tongue (Justicia pilosella), a little wildflower making its debut here today. On June 14th I’d gone out driving along Capital of Texas Highway looking for mountain pinks, which normally appear along that road by mid-June. I didn’t find any, but the colony of tube-tongue made up for it. The plants stood only several inches tall, and the flowers are only about an inch in size, so getting decent pictures had me down on the ground—and my neck too close to some stinging nettles, I’m afraid. Ah, the occupational hazard of being a nature photographer in Texas. On the technical side, I used flash and a small aperture, so the bright sky got rendered as a dark blue-grey (that’s more apparent if you look at the picture against a black background).


It’s by no means only people with conservative or libertarian leanings who are appalled at the illiberal policies being imposed on America, particularly those that clamp down on freedom of expression, inject “wokism” into everything, and rouse mobs to “cancel” anyone they disagree with. Also speaking out against those harmful trends are what I’ll call classical liberals, who generally identify themselves as being on the political left or center-left. Here are a few whose recent doings and writings you may want to check out.

Steven Pinker

Bari Weiss

Jonathan Haidt

Greg Lukianoff

Nadine Strossen

John McWhorter

Glenn Greenwald

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 22, 2021 at 4:44 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

26 Responses

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  1. That somewhat resembles our Gaywings or Fringed Polygala-Polygala paucifolia which is often mistaken for an orchid.

    Steve Gingold

    June 22, 2021 at 5:00 AM

    • Based on the pictures you linked to, your Polygala pauciflora, especially with that fringe, looks pretty different from the two Polygala species I’m familiar with here. For example:

      Not a ladies’ tresses orchid

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 22, 2021 at 6:19 AM

      • I saw this link on my phone earlier as just a link. But here in Windows it is in the box you have complained about.
        I did try to follow your links but most want an email address to start and that made them a no go for me.

        Steve Gingold

        June 22, 2021 at 2:28 PM

        • I have an alternate e-mail address that I use when websites want an e-mail address from me. That way I’ve been able to keep my main e-mail address largely (though not entirely) free from spam.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 22, 2021 at 5:23 PM

          • I have never bothered with a dummy address. I have two, one attached to the host of my website and my Comcast account. Both get a lot of spam but the Comcast account gets many phishing messages that land in spam. Unfortunately a lot of WordPress notifications end up in there too.. Lately it has been approvals of very large PayPal purchases. All a ruse to get an account password. It is a shame that such things work and people lose a small, or large, fortune to the crooks.

            Steve Gingold

            June 22, 2021 at 5:32 PM

            • I’ve gotten a fair number of phone calls like that, saying that if I recognize some very specific amount as the price of a purchase I recently made at Amazon or some other well-known merchant, then there’s no need to do anything, but if I don’t recognize that purchase then my credit card account may be compromised and I should press 1 (or some other key) to speak to a representative. Out of curiosity, one day I may follow through to see what the next step in the scam is. I’m guessing that the “representative” will ask me to “verify” my credit card number and “password.”

              You’d think with all the money our government wastes, it could at least do something useful and hire the best programmers and investigators in the world to put an end to scams like that. Only a minority of the phone calls I get on my land line are legitimate. The rest are either outright scams or companies soliciting business even though I’ve been on the do-not-call list for years.

              Steve Schwartzman

              June 22, 2021 at 6:00 PM

              • Well, if you do follow your curiosity do not answer yes or something affirmative to anything they ask. They will record it and use it as proof that you agreed to something or another. But, yes, they will ask for your CC account number so they can verify the purchase in question, cancel it, and credit your account which is pure B.S.
                I have no idea how well the do not call list works. Maybe we would get even more nuisance calls. I have NoMoRoBo on the cell phone and get a minimal number of phishing calls.

                Steve Gingold

                June 22, 2021 at 6:21 PM

                • What I’ve thought of doing is trying to make the person feel guilty for participating in a crime. I don’t know if any of the people who work there have a sense of decency. I wouldn’t agree to anything or give out any information.

                  On my cell phone I briefly activated either the service you mentioned or another one, I don’t remember which, but then I soon found that a legitimate call didn’t make it through to me so I deactivated that software.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  June 22, 2021 at 9:22 PM

      • The Milkwort family is rather large so I am not surprised that there are significant differences. I believe you spoke of that image previously when I posted a Polygala.

        Steve Gingold

        June 22, 2021 at 2:32 PM

        • I’m not surprised that I did. We also have a purple-flowered species here but I see I’ve never posted a picture of it, mainly because I’ve seldom come across any. The white-flowering species is reasonably common.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 22, 2021 at 5:26 PM

  2. flashback: “five people dead and scores wounded” after the Capitol attack when Trump supporters attempted to interfere with the certifying of the 2020 Presidential Election. “The attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 could be the most documented crime in U.S. history.” ~Time 09 April 2021

    Ms. Liz

    June 22, 2021 at 6:05 AM

    • I condemn that one attack just like I condemned the thousands that took place in 2020. The point I’ve been making in all these recent comments is that I don’t treat similar things differently.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 22, 2021 at 6:13 AM

  3. Being stung by nettles has fortunately not yet occurred to me while lying on my belly trying to capture a flower in an unusual perspective. As I can see the capture of the tube-tongue was worth the extra effort, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    June 22, 2021 at 8:06 AM

    • These stinging nettles were annoying but not all that bad—unlike bull nettle, which I’ve fortunately never experienced but have read terrible accounts of.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 22, 2021 at 8:21 AM

  4. Nice capture, despite the perils of putting yourself with stinging nettles! As you know, I’ve had my own experience with the bull nettles and I highly recommend keeping distance! This little tube-tongue is gorgeous!

    I’ll forward the links you provided to Forrest. He takes more time to read and research than I do, and he’s always good to pass on to me the highlights or any information of interest.


    June 22, 2021 at 9:20 AM

    • You’re a person who can see the Forrest for the trees.

      Bull nettle is at least conspicuous, so I’ve always been able to avoid it, though there’s always a chance I might accidentally have a run-in with it the way you unfortunately did. The kind of stinging nettle I encountered near the tube-tongue is a small, low plant, not easy to see. I noticed it only after I felt a strange feeling on my neck and looked around to see what might have caused it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 22, 2021 at 10:13 AM

      • Ha ha! I did not notice the bull nettle plant until one of my legs was on FIRE!! I managed to make quick tracks to the buggy where the pants came off and I realized I’d gotten into something that managed to get me through my thin hiking pants. Forrest went back and found the culprit. Although it was a large plant, it was nestled in an area where a wild vine and some dried vetch were clinging to it, so it wasn’t easily seen. We were digging musk thistle at the time so I wasn’t paying attention to anything but the next thistle to dig. I hope you’ve recovered from your brush with the nettle plant?


        June 22, 2021 at 10:45 AM

        • Ah, it was an insidiously hiding bull nettle that got you.

          What I ended up with was more tingly and itchy, not fiery like yours. The contact raised a welt that went down over the next few days and is almost gone now.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 22, 2021 at 11:09 AM

  5. Ha! If they are links, I can avoid them! (I know they are interesting, but I can guess that they are infuriating too.)


    June 22, 2021 at 9:25 AM

    • I provided the links to show that at least some figures on the political left are as worried about current goings-on as more-conservative people are.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 22, 2021 at 10:16 AM

  6. Your tube-tongue reminded me immediately of our various lobelias, particularly because of that three-lobed division. It’s a pretty thing, and I was surprised to see it in Eason. I keep discovering plants in his book that I’ve missed, and it’s great fun.


    June 23, 2021 at 7:02 AM

    • I can see the similarity to the lobelias – I wonder if they are trying to entice very similar pollinators? There must be good reasons for plants having flowers that are alike.

      Ann Mackay

      June 23, 2021 at 11:59 AM

      • Biologists talk about convergent evolution, in which entities in different biological families develop a similar trait. I don’t know how closely related Acanthaceae is to Campanulaceae.

        Steve Schwartzman

        June 23, 2021 at 12:18 PM

    • Now that you’re aware of it you’re more likely to see it, though the map indicates you’d have traveled at least several counties westward. The main Lobelia I find in the Austin area is cardinal flower, as you’ve seen.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2021 at 12:14 PM

  7. Steve, I’ve read most of the essays by these individuals who you’ve listed. I applaud you for including this information with your documentation of wildflowers. For me every part of every living thing is connected in a circle of the life cycle. Certainly the current toxic cultural, political and social environment is in its own way affecting the right’s view of the climate emergency, which your work recognizes in subtle and overt ways. My own work is becoming more and more overt about the intersection and interdependence of nature and human nature. I have not read Greenwald, will get to it.


    June 23, 2021 at 1:11 PM

    • Of the people I listed, Greenwald is probably the one I know least well. He was a co-founder of The Intercept but he resigned last year because the group had become too politically invested and wouldn’t even let Greenwald publish an un-tampered-with version of an article he’d written.

      My father and his family escaped from the Soviet Union in the 1920s and made their way to America, where they could speak and act freely. That’s one reason I’ve always been wary when totalitarian tendencies (or worse, actions) gain sway in the United States.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2021 at 2:03 PM

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