Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Smartweed from pond to pond and insect to insect

with 19 comments

I think the first time this year I photographed smartweed (Polygonum or Persicaria sp.) was on July 7th at the Riata Trace Pond, as shown above. Note what seems to be the segmented tan larva of an insect sitting inconspicuously in the middle of the inflorescence at the right.

The two main colors in the top photograph warrant a different observation, a surprising one that I’ve repeated here from time to time: as recently as the first half of the 20th century people in the United States took pink to be the appropriate color for boys and blue the appropriate color for girls. Let that be a reminder or how quickly and arbitrarily fashions often change.

The most recent time I photographed smartweed was at the Arbor Walk Pond on October 8th, as shown below with a leaffooted bug (Leptoglossus sp.) as the rider. Flash let me stop down the aperture to f/22 for good depth of field; that combination also gave me a very dark background, all the better to isolate my subjects.

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I commend the National Association of Scholars for its stance against gender ideology.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 20, 2021 at 4:44 PM

19 Responses

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  1. I love the pink of the top image, especially against the beautiful blue sky. 🤓

    • It’s hard to beat that combination of pink and baby blue, isn’t it? I’ve often made use of a clear sky to isolate a subject.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 20, 2021 at 10:33 PM

      • The combination of colours gives a lovely freshness and vitality to the image, especially with that lighting. I agree with you on that statement – things can be made just a bit too complicated!

        Ann Mackay

        October 21, 2021 at 4:15 AM

      • Absolutely! And the sky is almost always, if not completely always a perfect backdrop.

        • Many landscape photographers consider clear blue skies boring. I understand where those photographers are coming from, but I don’t generally share their dislike. Of course too much of anything gets tedious, so I vary my approaches to taking pictures and also to showing them here, hoping to avoid sameness.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 27, 2021 at 6:46 PM

  2. The bug picture is awesome. Very well done.
    I looked up the comments and I’m not sure which one is yours. Is a strange world we live in now.

    Alessandra Chaves

    October 20, 2021 at 9:44 PM

    • I also took dorsal views of the bug but decided to go with the side view because it seems more dynamic.
      If the comments you mentioned are the ones on the National Association of Scholars statement I linked to, none of those comments are from me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 20, 2021 at 10:21 PM

  3. The pink smartweed is lovely, the second smartweed is similar to the one I see up here. Never noticed a leaf-footed bug on one, though.


    October 20, 2021 at 10:21 PM

    • The smartweed in the first photograph is as pretty a pink as I ever see in this genus. On average smartweed flowers here are less colorful and not as lavish. Leaffooted bugs are common here; I don’t associate them with any particular kind of plant.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 20, 2021 at 10:24 PM

  4. Even though I often come across large colonies of smartweed, I’d never seen any as dense and colorful as the one in the top photo. They generally tend toward white, with a hint of pink. I sometimes find it hard to think of a leaf-footed bug as attractive, but this one comes close.

    I grinned at your juxtaposition of ‘smartweed’ with the National Association of Scholars.


    October 21, 2021 at 9:17 AM

    • I also normally see a paler pink. Bill Carr lists a whopping 10 Polygonum species in Travis County. Whether one of those is more prone to producing the lush pink smartweed flowers shown in the first picture, I don’t know. I also don’t know how to tell the species apart.

      Members of the National Association of Scholars are smart indeed. Even native English speakers don’t generally realize that the ‘intelligent’ sense of smart derives metaphorically from the ‘to cause or feel a pain’ sense. Compare the way an intelligent person is also called sharp.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 21, 2021 at 6:10 PM

  5. I’ve a goodly amount, as opposed to godly, of smartweed in the yard and this year saw nary an insect aside from Japanese Beetles. I’d have been very happy with a little Leptoglossus love.

    Steve Gingold

    October 22, 2021 at 3:16 PM

    • With one o or two, smartweed in your yard sounds good. Japanese beetles, on the other hand, don’t sound good. I hope some Leptoglossus love comes your way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 22, 2021 at 7:00 PM

  6. […] the Arbor Walk Pond on October 8th come these two flowerless and abstract takes on smartweed (Polygonum or Persicaria sp.). In the top picture you’ll […]

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