Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Kin to corn

with 21 comments

As “Plants of Texas Rangelands” notes, eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides) “is kin to corn, but has both male and female parts in the same spike.” You see that in the top photograph, where the orange male flowers dangle from threads at the right, and the brownish pipe-cleaner-like female flowers are on the left. Each flower-bearing segment is called a spikelet. As the female spikelets age, they whiten and break into bony joints. You see one above, which must have come from a more mature spike and somehow gotten snagged on this fresher one. The middle picture shows some typical aged female spikelets. (The species name dactyloides is Greek for ‘resembling fingers’; you can decide if this looks like desiccated finger bones.)

I’ll add that in a region not known for fall foliage, we get some warm colors in our aging native grasses, as you see from the way red has begun to appear in the eastern gamagrass below.

These photographs are from the Arbor Walk Pond on October 8th.

⫷     ⫸

Nobody alerted me that October 19 this year would be International Pronouns Day!
Let me retroactively declare my preferred pronouns for last week:
Wondrous one and His majesty.
And just in case you think the failure to notify me is something I take lying down,
I’ll add that my prone nouns are recumbency and prostration.

© 2021 Wondrous one and His majesty

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 27, 2021 at 3:47 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , ,

21 Responses

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  1. how interesting –


    October 27, 2021 at 3:54 AM

  2. LOL!! I love your pronouns! That spikelet is cool. I love the textures you captured in all the images.

    The grasses here turn pinkish red in the fall. It’s pretty neat.


    October 27, 2021 at 4:41 AM

    • If you’re gonna have personalized pronouns, they might as well be honorific and self-aggrandizing, right?
      Except for some ornamentals, I think many people under-appreciate how attractive fall grasses are.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2021 at 5:41 AM

  3. Greetings, o Wondrous one! 🙂 🙂 I like the touches of red coming through on the grass. Autumn reds here tend to be small details like that too.

    Ann Mackay

    October 27, 2021 at 6:12 AM

    • I appreciate your salutation, just as we both appreciate the small touches of autumn red around us.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2021 at 6:22 AM

  4. Hiya Majesty. What an unusual plant. And rattle me bones, if’n the 2nd shot doesn’t look a bit like a desiccated finger bone, great! just in time for Halloween.

    Robert Parker

    October 27, 2021 at 9:17 AM

    • Like corn, this is a large grass—and we might say it displays a certain majesty, to echo the preferred pronoun you used. Speaking of Halloween, the desiccated finger bones anticipate a pumpkin stand-in in this Sunday’s post.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2021 at 10:46 AM

  5. Do you think that Tripsacum dactyloides wants to be called he or she? Beautiful photograph so detailed. I wasted a few min on the linked site. Time I will never get back, thanks 😂

    Alessandra Chaves

    October 27, 2021 at 7:04 PM

    • According to today’s ideology, I guess Tripsacum dactyloides would want to be called “they.” Given how quickly and arbitrarily such things change, next week it might be zey or hoo or shem or who knows what. In my role as teacher I linked to the International Pronouns Day website for informational purposes only.

      As for the pictures, my 100mm macro gets credit for the sharpness.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2021 at 8:47 PM

      • I”m all for rights and people be called whatever they want but it generates a lot of confusion. I know that the teachers association in Brazil barred a proposal that would make teachers have to call students any pronoun and noun they wanted to be called. The teachers argued that it generated a great level of confusion and that they already had enough problems dealing with large classes.

        Alessandra Chaves

        October 27, 2021 at 9:46 PM

  6. I can’t help it. Any time I hear ‘kin to…’ I want to finish the phrase with ‘cain’t.’ It’s the phrase I grew up with (and sometimes hear in rural Texas) that signifies working from dawn to dusk: from the time when a person can see until they can’t. In the context of work, it amuses me no end that the species name for this grass refers to fingers. Remember the old Hoyt Axton song about bony fingers?

    I’ve been enjoying the grasses myself. They’re colorful, and intricate, and far more interesting than any lawn grass.


    October 28, 2021 at 8:21 AM

    • “Kin to cain’t” does sound quaint. Cain’t say as I know the phrase you mentioned, nor the “Boney Fingers” song you linked to. On the other hand (which includes fingers), I’m pretty familiar with eastern gamagrass and always look forward to the picture opportunities it offers. As you say, our native grasses are so much more colorful and intricate than alien lawn grasses, especially at this time of year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 28, 2021 at 8:42 AM

  7. I thought of you as I made my bi-annual trip to Nebraska. The fall colors were outstanding this year, and corn harvest was in full swing. I reveled in every bit of it. Even the roadside ditches along I-80 were a splendor of fall colors – much more interesting that what we see here in the SW part of Oklahoma. I am always happy to note that not all native grasses have been plowed or farmed away in Nebraska.


    October 31, 2021 at 9:40 AM

    • Hey, it’s good to hear about all that fall color in Nebraska, something that outsiders (like me) probably wouldn’t have thought of. Some years ago we caught excellent fall color at the very eastern edge of Oklahoma. Do you know if that area is having as good as year as Nebraska?

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 31, 2021 at 12:55 PM

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