Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Silverleaf nightshade flower

with 22 comments

One of Austin’s most common wildflowers is silverleaf nightshade, Solanum elaeagnifolium. I photographed this one along Capitol of Texas Highway on June 14th. Flash and a small aperture of f/20 caused the bright sky to come out a very dark blue. You can see it that way if you look at the full image against a black background; in contrast, the white surrounding the photograph on this page will make most of you (and me) see the deep blue as black. You may also imagine that the flower’s yellow stamens are little bananas, but I wouldn’t advise eating them unless you want to suffer the effects of toxic masculinity. (Many plants in the nightshade family are poisonous, but some, e.g. tomatoes and potatoes, have become staple foods.)


What’s poisonous in our legal system is the denial of due process and the attempt by ideologues to change our legal ethos from “innocent until proven guilty” to “guilty until proven innocent” or even “guilty because accused.” My niece, Adrienne Levy, works for a law firm that represents people whose due process has been violated. Her arguments carried the day in an important case in Colorado last month.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 6, 2021 at 4:33 AM

22 Responses

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  1. We’ve got plenty of a relative growing in our garden… Solanum lycopersicum.

    Steve Gingold

    July 6, 2021 at 5:34 AM

    • And it’s yum yum yum
      For lycopersicum.

      When the ancient Greeks encountered a certain fruit from Persia they called it Persikon malon, meaning ‘Persian apple.’ Later Persikon by itself came to be the fruit’s name (in the same way that in English what started out getting euphemistically called “a commercial announcement” is now just “a commercial”). The Romans adopted that Greek word as persicum, the feminine of which evolved through Old French to give us the word peach, which is the kind of fruit that Persikon malon designated. The addition of lyco, from Greek lukos, in front of persikon gives lycopersicum the meaning ‘wolf peach.’ You might say that some people are so fond of tomatoes that they wolf them down.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2021 at 6:22 AM

  2. The dark background seems to add some menace to the flower’s beauty which is appropriate given that, for all its beauty, it is poisonous. Your remark about the yellow banana-like stamens reminded me about another beautiful flower with purple and yellow tones; the banana flower. It is both beautiful and edible.


    July 6, 2021 at 6:47 AM

  3. photography is like gardening, you need patience


    July 6, 2021 at 7:14 AM

    • As I’m not a gardener, I’ll take your word for it, and confirm that I spend a lot of time on my photography.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2021 at 12:35 PM

  4. I would have never guessed that the background is blue. Amazing what a camera setting can do, Steve!

    Peter Klopp

    July 6, 2021 at 9:37 AM

    • In Google Chrome, which is the browser I’ve been using, clicking a picture in this blog brings it up in a new window where everything around the photgraph is black. If you have Chrome (or download and install it for free), you can open this page in it and click on the picture to see the deep blue.

      Experience teaches us how to take advantage of various camera settings—and cameras keep improving in what they let us do.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2021 at 12:41 PM

  5. Oh, my, toxic masculinity–I think I’ll leave that thought on the back burner. But beautiful wee bananas.


    July 7, 2021 at 2:21 AM

    • In a society where slinging insults is the breath of life for the forces of illiberalism, cynical me couldn’t resist a bit of sarcasm in labeling those wee yellow stamens.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 7, 2021 at 5:31 AM

  6. After all our rains, this pretty flower is in the midst of a second flush of growth. This year, I’ve seen more flowers with the deep purple you’ve shown here, and the combination of deep yellow stamens and that purple is wonderful. It’s reminiscent of the goldenrod and beauty berries to come.

    Your comment about ‘guilty until proven innocent’ brought to mind the famous phrase, “J’accuse.” Zola’s letter was written in a different historical context, but it’s somewhat ironic that a phrase that was directed toward a powerful person then today can be used against anyone. Being accused of any of today’s ‘isms’ on social media or elsewhere can become quite a trial, even if the ‘perpetrator’ manages to avoid an actual courtroom.


    July 7, 2021 at 8:21 AM

    • Our “salvation” seems to lie increasingly in the courtroom as more and more legitimately aggrieved people are filing suit against ideological transgressors. John McWhorter has taken the stance that, yes, they’re going to call you racist, but so what? Just keep on, and eventually the racist-callers will see it doesn’t get them anywhere and they’ll stop. I hope he’s right.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 7, 2021 at 10:54 AM

      • One of our local commentators offers the same advice as McWhorter, with one addition: laughter. My own experience suggests that nothing drives an ideologue crazier than being laughed at.


        July 7, 2021 at 10:57 AM

  7. I love it, Steve, it has such a strong presence. Good to hear about your niece. 🙂


    July 7, 2021 at 2:41 PM

  8. […] the silverleaf nightshade you saw a picture of the other day, this firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella) was also growing along the Capital of Texas […]

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