Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Purple prairie clover young and old

with 22 comments

It’s not often I’ve shown you purple prairie clover, Dalea purpurea. Here are two contrasting takes from the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183 on August 22nd. First you have a limited-focus view of fresh flowers, then a decaying seed head in front of some sunflowers, Helianthus annuus.

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Diversity? What diversity?

One of the three* sacraments in the Holy Trinity of the Critical Social Justice religion is Diversity. (The other two, in case you’ve just arrived from Pluto and aren’t au courant, are Equity and Inclusion.) Anyone not a true believer soon recognizes that the diversity in question refers only to group characteristics like skin color. It certainly doesn’t include diversity of thought. On the contrary, in the spirit of Orwell’s “Freedom is slavery,” the sacrament of Diversity requires waging a crusade against ideological diversity.

I recently learned that one ray of enlightenment has broken through, and it’s right here at the University of Texas (UT) in Austin. “The University of Texas has worked with private donors and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick to establish a new think tank to promote conservative ideas on campus.” Now, you might argue that a state university has no business promoting conservative ideology. All things being equal, I’d agree with you. But in this case things are very far from equal. As a Campus Reform article notes: “In total, UT employees donated $642,693.43 from 2017-2018. Of that amount, 94.7 percent went to Democrat politicians or Democrat organizations, while just 5.3 percent of the donations were made to Republican politicians or Republican organizations.” With such an enormous ideological imbalance already existing, it would be hypocritical to begrudge establishing one little program on the other side of the political spectrum. But of course leftist activists will rail against it anyway—all in the name of Diversity.

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* Never content for long with the status quo, no matter how radical, the Critical Social Justice religion seems to be in the process of adding a fourth sacrament: Belonging. Once Belonging gets officially inducted into the pantheon, a fifth sacrament should soon be a-borning. What will it be? Safety? Solidarity? Openness (which will of course mean ‘closed to evidence that contradicts it’)? Tolerance (which won’t tolerate dissent)?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 13, 2021 at 4:32 AM

22 Responses

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  1. The sunflowers and sky make such a lovely background! I was not aware of this type of clover, so I’ll have to research a bit to see how it could benefit wildlife here. Deer (and many species of wildlife) graze on most types of clover, and we’ve planted several plots of it (mostly medium red clover – Trifolium pratense) in areas where nothing else would grow. Since 2011 these areas of clover have offered additional grazing for our released fawns and yearlings. The blooms are beautiful in spring and early summer.


    September 13, 2021 at 7:05 AM

    • Trifolium pratense is the kind of Eurasian clover that the Texas Department of Transportation plants along highways in east Texas. I imagine its nitrogen-fixing ability is useful to farmers and ranchers.

      “Clover” being a popular name, it has gotten applied to various plants, including the purple prairie clover shown here. How useful this species is to wildlife or to farmers and ranchers, I haven’t researched. But wait: I just did a search and turned up the Montana website at


      The map there shows how widespread this species is, and there’s a paragraph about the medicinal uses various tribes found for it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2021 at 7:51 AM

  2. The blooms of the various Dalea species always remind me of narrowleaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata), which I see far more often than any of these clovers. I was surprised to find Dalea in the pea family, and I was also surprised to see it listed as deer resistant on the Wildflower Center site. I had hoped to see our dune clover (D. emarginata yesterday, but since Hurricane Laura scrubbed my favorite beaches clean, it doesn’t seem to have come back.


    September 13, 2021 at 7:39 AM

    • I’m sorry to hear Hurricane Laura has put a damper on your botanical beachcombing. Given how common storms are along that coast, I expect the plants have adapted and will come back in the next few years. I see why Daleas remind you of Plantagos. According to Wikipedia, Fabaceae “is the third-largest land plant family in number of species, behind only the Orchidaceae and Asteraceae, with about 765 genera and nearly 20,000 known species. That huge number assures there’ll be plenty of diversity, which could well account for your reaction to Dalea as not fitting your conception of what a pea family plant “should” look like.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2021 at 8:02 AM

  3. I love this flower, and you did a good job with the background. Universities need to be a place of intellectual discussions of topics, and researchers in universities need to be able to conduct and publish research on any topic they see fit. It is sad what’s happening to universities these days. Freedom is gone, education is bad and pretty expensive, and students no longer learn how to think for themselves….

    Alessandra Chaves

    September 13, 2021 at 7:41 AM

  4. I have never seen clover presented with a focus on the flower and its seedhead. I easily recognize the clover plant by its leaves.

    Peter Klopp

    September 13, 2021 at 9:10 AM

    • Well, the clover you’re thinking of, the one with three leaflets, is a kind from Europe (though it was in everyone’s lawn in the suburbs of New York when I was growing up). This purple prairie clover is in the same botanical family but is pretty different.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2021 at 10:07 AM

  5. Our clovers, the non-natives that make up all we have, do not have that nice cone yours has which looks like a pinecone with a tutu.

    Steve Gingold

    September 13, 2021 at 10:18 AM

  6. Beautiful photographs. And I agree. You and I tend to be on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but that doesn’t matter. (Well, I’m moderate left. Not extreme. I hate extremes.) You can think and I admire that. Universities, to me, are supposed to be the places where a diversity of opinion can exist and be discussed in a civilized constructive manner. Without that, I wonder what is the point at all?

    Michael Scandling

    September 13, 2021 at 11:00 AM

    • Cynical (and maybe also snarky) me is tempted to answer the question in your final line by saying that the point of those who now almost totally dominate the universities is to eliminate even the tiny bit of opposition they haven’t already managed to drive out—which is why the much-vaunted Diversity is so hypocritical. In contrast, you and I would like a true diversity of opinions and a calm presenting of well-researched evidence.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2021 at 12:38 PM

    • And thanks for your vote of confidence.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2021 at 12:53 PM

    • A few hours after I replied to this comment of yours about the need for a diversity of opinions in our universities, I listened to an interview with Peter Boghossian, a political liberal, who resigned this week after 10 years of teaching at Portland State University, which he found had become a rigidly intolerant indoctrination mill. If you’re interested, his interview takes up the first 48 minutes in this video.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2021 at 10:47 PM

  7. One more thought as I go into full Snark mode. There is a word that exists in the English language. Forum. It is archaic and nobody seems to know what it means anymore. End of Snark mode.

    Michael Scandling

    September 13, 2021 at 11:13 AM

    • Continuing with my cynicism: many (most?) academic forums today are small venues for more thoroughly inculcating dogma than in the large lecture halls where the same indoctrination takes place more broadly.

      On an etymological note, which I’m always happy to sound: the Latin word forum is related to our native English door. That word originally designated the door in an enclosure surrounding a house, and therefore a door that opened to the world outside. The Roman forum was an outdoor area.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2021 at 12:50 PM

  8. The prairie clover in flower is absolutely charming!


    September 14, 2021 at 7:35 PM

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