Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 29 comments

Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia texana) is a slight tree whose flowers smell like tangerine fruit. I haven’t showed you this species since 2016, so you could say it’s overdue. The first two pictures, one looking more upward and the next more downward, show how densely kidneywood can flower. I made both of those views on Morado Circle in my neighborhood on October 23rd.

The portrait below, from October 14th along Bull Creek, gives you
a close look at a kidneywood inflorescence whose buds were opening.

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While living in Honduras a long time ago I learned the proverb “Más vale prender una vela que maldecir la oscuridad,” “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” Yesterday I came across a similar thought: “The pure righteous do not complain of the dark, but increase the light; they do not complain of evil, but increase justice; they do not complain of heresy, but increase faith; they do not complain of ignorance, but increase wisdom.” It was attributed to Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935), first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Palestine under the British mandate.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 2, 2021 at 2:31 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , ,

29 Responses

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  1. It’s most often better to be positive when dealing with the negative.

    Steve Gingold

    November 2, 2021 at 5:39 AM

  2. Even after all these years, and despite so many trips to the hill country, I still haven’t seen this beauty. I’d love to find it in bloom, if only to catch that tangerine scent.

    Oddly, I have heard of Rabbi Kook, thanks to ShimonZ, a favorite blog companion who no longer is with us. You may remember him. He lived in Jerusalem, was a Hebrew scholar, and a bit of a mystic himself. I don’t remember him quoting this passage, but I don’t doubt he was familiar with it. He certainly lived his life in that way. This is my favorite photo of him.


    November 2, 2021 at 8:01 AM

    • Over here in Nativeplantlandia it’s “stop and smell the kidneywood,” among other fragrant flowers. The Morado Circle site is one of two that are near each other, and as they’re along the route that we take into the neighborhood almost every day, I know when kidneywood is flowering so I don’t miss out on it.

      I well remember Shimon Z and his decision some years ago to stop blogging. Is that what you meant by “no longer with us,” or has he died?

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 2, 2021 at 8:15 AM

      • He died over a year ago. His wife let me know; despite the sorrowful news, I was glad for her consideration.


        November 2, 2021 at 8:24 AM

        • You know from my question that I hadn’t heard the news. It occurred to me recently that maybe bloggers who are up there in age should schedule some posts years into the future so that people will keep hearing from them even after they’re gone.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 2, 2021 at 8:30 AM

  3. Hey there,Steven, What wise words! Thank you mucho for sharing articles and essays you find interesting. I look forward to your posts each day. Michael


    November 2, 2021 at 9:07 AM

    • You’re welcome. Yes, I’ve been running almost two blogs in one this year, with sociopolitical commentary appended to nature photography. It good to hear you find some of those things interesting.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 2, 2021 at 9:17 AM

  4. That tree’s flowers are lovely, and the words are very wise.


    November 2, 2021 at 9:40 AM

  5. Very pretty, and a tree that smells like tangerines sounds great, I love the smell of any citrus fruits. It’s a pity they didn’t settle on a nicer name, I was just reading a bit about the medicinal uses. Maybe Nephritis Tea Tree or something.

    Robert Parker

    November 2, 2021 at 12:05 PM

    • The flowers are gone now from the kidneywood shown in the first two pictures, but their scent lingers on in memory. I’m with you in enjoying the aroma of all the citruses I’ve encountered. I’ve had jasmine tea, so maybe kidneywood flower tea would taste good too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 2, 2021 at 2:45 PM

  6. Lol, didn’t expect references to rabbinic teaching in a nature photography blog, but I can get behind that. I love these shots. Kidneywood is a favorite of mine. My several-houses-away neighbors have a lovely kidneywood–one of them was a kidney transplant coordinator before retirement.


    November 2, 2021 at 4:29 PM

    • Now that’s a nice match-up: kidneywood for a former kidney transplant coordinator.

      While this is still nominally a nature photography blog, I have other interests that I’ve occasionally slipped in, especially language and math. A lot depends on what I happen to be reading during the days before a post.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 2, 2021 at 5:22 PM

  7. Beautiful portrait of the Kidneywood flower. We have the same popular saying in português. We call these proverbs “ ditados populares”. The older generations (my grandparents and their parents) spoke a lot in proverbs. Often, as a child, I wondered if my grandparents had any thoughts of their own at all.

    Alessandra Chaves

    November 2, 2021 at 9:31 PM

    • That’s funny about wondering if the older generation had any thoughts of their own. Maybe it’s just that traditions back then were stronger. My grandmother often quoted Russian proverbs, a few of which I remember.

      I have an 1857 copy of a British book entitled A Polyglot of Foreign Proverbs, which has sections for French, Italian, Dutch, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Danish, all in the original languages with English translations.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 2, 2021 at 10:16 PM

    • And yes, I was happy with the close portrait of kidneywood flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 2, 2021 at 10:25 PM

  8. I wouldn’t mind stopping to ‘smell the kidneywood flowers”. They look beautiful, too. One of my favourite songs based on ” “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” is this one by Neil Young. I may have mentioned it to you before. https://youtu.be/Dh3y2GyQxog


    November 2, 2021 at 11:30 PM

  9. Smells like tangerines? If I lived where this grew/thrived, it would be in my garden – it has pretty flowers and a lovely aroma!

    Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    November 7, 2021 at 11:43 PM

    • I used to puzzle over how to describe the aroma of these flowers, and then a few years ago I came across a website where someone said they smell like tangerines. They remind me of jasmine, too. Ultimately they’re unique, but no vocabulary exists to adequately describe scents.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 8, 2021 at 3:51 AM

  10. […] How ’bout this face-on view of a small fly getting nectar from the flowers of a kidneywood tree (Eysenhardtia texana) in my neighborhood on December 16, 2021? That tree kept putting out flowers through the end of the year, even if only a tiny fraction of what it had produced at the end of October. […]

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