Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Rattlebush flowers

with 14 comments

At McKinney Falls State Park yesterday the rattlebushes (Sesbania drummondii) along Onion Creek downstream from the Lower Falls were flowering, so how could I not take some pictures?

A little earlier, after I’d arrived and was walking in from the parking area, I noticed that a man near me was heading in a direction that wouldn’t take him to the Lower Falls, which is the place I assumed he was trying to get to. I called over to the man, explained that he was heading the wrong way, and pointed him in the direction he needed to go.

On my way back from photographing the rattlebush flowers I passed by the Lower Falls and noticed the man sitting nearby. He looked like he was from India, and I wanted to find out his opinion about something, so I struck up a conversation. First I asked if he lived here or was just visiting the United States. He told me he’s been in the country about 20 years. He started in New York, then moved to Texas, where he’d run a Subway shop. I asked him what he thought of America. In particular, I pointed out that many people in the news media and now even many in our government are claiming that America is a horribly racist country, and I wanted to know if he agreed. He said that there’s always some discrimination in all countries, that it’s a reality of human nature. He mentioned the caste system in India as an example. Then he said that the United States is better. That immigrant to our country understands human nature and the United States in a way that too many Americans fail to—or refuse to—understand.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 19, 2021 at 4:35 AM

14 Responses

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  1. I had never heard of a rattlebush. Such lovely yellow color and a nice touch to include the fern-like leaf.

    I always find it interesting to bump into people I don’t know, and have interesting conversation. In this case, it was inspiring to note that someone considers the aspect of human nature, and not what the news media is putting out there.


    July 19, 2021 at 7:22 AM

    • I was heartened to hear the man’s answer, especially because he took human nature and the broader world into account when assessing America. As others have pointed out, why would so many people want to come to America if it’s as horrible a place as ideologues claim it is?

      As for the rattlebush, at http://bonap.net/Napa/TaxonMaps/Genus/County/Sesbania you can see that a couple of Sesbania species (though not this one) grow in Oklahoma. They’re in the pea family, which explains the compound leaf in the upper left that you mentioned.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 19, 2021 at 7:34 AM

  2. A lovely wildflower photo and an interesting conversation with an immigrant and his opinion of the USA!

    Peter Klopp

    July 19, 2021 at 8:36 AM

  3. Does the bush actually rattle?

    Steve Gingold

    July 19, 2021 at 2:52 PM

    • Not the bush per se but the dry seeds inside the pod. An alternate common name for the plant is rattlepod rather than rattlebush.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 19, 2021 at 3:41 PM

  4. I rarely come across the flowers of this plant, but it’s only because my timing is bad. I know where they are, but I usually find them after the flowers have faded. Attwater prairie has the largest stands I’ve seen, although they’re pretty common on Galveston Island, too — like at the Artist Boat and Lafitte’s Cove. I enjoy “rattling” the pods, but I like the sound of them brushing against one another in a good wind, too.


    July 19, 2021 at 9:54 PM

    • Like you, I often enough come across rattlebushes when they’re not blooming. The fact that some of these were flowering made it imperative for me to take pictures. It was too early for any pod shaking, which I might have done a couple of months later.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 20, 2021 at 6:35 AM

  5. Happy for the man from India that he found a better life in the US. Great! I’m also sure he understood the kind of answer you were after.

    Ms. Liz

    July 19, 2021 at 11:02 PM

    • When I hear, as I often do, the results of a poll, I wish the people reporting the results included the exact wording of the questions. Those who have studied statistics and polling know that the way a question is asked can influence the people being polled. There’s even something called a push poll, in which dishonest pollsters purposely word questions in ways that are more likely to elicit the answers that the organization paying for the polling wants to be able to report.

      My experiment in asking the man from India what he thought about the United States was just that: an impromptu experiment. I tried to be balanced. I made sure to ask the man, who had a dark complexion, if he himself had ever felt discriminated against in the United States. He answered that some Americans resent immigrants because they (the Americans) feel immigrants take jobs away from the native born. I asked if he felt anyone had discriminated against him because of his complexion, but he didn’t say so.

      It wouldn’t be fair to extrapolate from one person to a much larger group without much more evidence. In Austin I see plenty of people that have immigrated to the United States, so I may ask more of them. The fact remains that many millions of people would gladly move to the United States if they could, and people don’t move to places that are worse than where they are.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 20, 2021 at 7:00 AM

  6. Great name for a harmless bush, must have startled a settler or two who were expecting a snake.


    July 20, 2021 at 5:46 AM

    • I hadn’t thought to make the connection to rattlesnakes. If I ever found a rattlesnake at the base of a rattlebush, that’d make for quite a picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 20, 2021 at 7:01 AM

  7. The colours of this rattlebush flower brighten yet another rainy day for me.


    July 21, 2021 at 10:33 PM

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