Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Camphorweed puts on a show

with 20 comments

In Bastrop State Park on October 11th camphorweed (Heterotheca subaxillaris) was putting on quite a display, as were Maximilian sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani). In the first view, for which I got down low, those tall sunflowers played only a secondary role behind the dense camphorweed. The following picture shows that elsewhere in the park the supporting cast for camphorweed included showy palafoxia (Palafoxia hookeriana) and woolly croton (Croton capitatus).

And below’s a closeup of a camphorweed flower head against a flowering spike of Liatris aspera.

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I’ll bet you haven’t heard, as I hadn’t, about the mammoth cheese that the people in Cheshire, Massachusetts, made and gave to President Thomas Jefferson in 1802. “The 1,235-pound (560 kg) cheese was created by combining the milk from every cow in the town, and made in a makeshift cheese press to handle the cheese’s size. The cheese bore the Jeffersonian motto ‘Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.'” You can read more of the fascinating details in a dedicated Wikipedia article. Today’s supermarkets sell many kinds of cheeses, but I’ve yet to see any with inspirational quotations on them. Someone’s missing a great business opportunity, don’t you think?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 3, 2021 at 4:38 AM

20 Responses

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  1. Edam! You’re right, I haven’t ever seen a message stamped into a cheese, I wonder whey. Seriously, a cheese from Europe usually has stuff stamped on the rind, but just ID not slogans. I like Manchego from Spain, although it usually costs more than a T-bone steak per pound, and that has a cool diagonal pattern from a braided wrapper. I guess you could use Cheez Wiz for graffiti now that I think about it.

    Robert Parker

    November 3, 2021 at 5:25 AM

    • That’s a gouda way to begin your comment; call it a feta accompli.

      Our local Costco regularly carries manchego cheese but I don’t think we’ve ever tried it.

      If you take into account the weight of the bone in a T-bone steak, is it still less expensive than manchego cheese?

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 3, 2021 at 8:24 AM

  2. We’re awash in cheesy politicians, so it would make sense for some of them to hand out cheeses bearing campaign slogans. “Vote for Me, Not for that Muenster” comes to mind.

    We have so many yellow/gold and purple combinations in the fall, but I don’t remember ever seeing camphor weed combined with liatris, unless you might have paired them in the past. I do know that when I’ve come across vast spreads of camphor weed, as at the Attwater preserve, there’s not been a single liatris in sight. It’s a reminder that the presence of one flower doesn’t guarantee the presence of another.


    November 3, 2021 at 8:41 AM

    • Too bad we can’t wash away more of the cheesy polticians we’re awash in.

      Some botanists pay attention to plant associations. Bill Carr often mentions them in his Travis County plant list. I just scrolled back through all the camphorweed pictures I’ve posted here and you’re right that not a single one included liatris. I did show some camphorweed pictures with contrasting purple, most often from prairie verbena. I don’t have a sense of whether an association with liatris is actually rare.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 3, 2021 at 8:59 AM

  3. The flower head in the last picture looks great against the slightly blurred background of the purple flowers.

    Peter Klopp

    November 3, 2021 at 9:32 AM

    • I’m pleased you appreciate the contrast between the in-focus yellow flower head of the camphorweed and the somewhat out-of-focus purple flowers behind it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 3, 2021 at 12:09 PM

  4. Cheshire is a not very large town about 45 miles from here. Lots of cows and I haven’t visited the monument in the town.

    The single Camphorweed flowers really pops with the Liatris behind it. Nice choice.

    Steve Gingold

    November 6, 2021 at 4:37 AM

    • One of my longtime photographic projects is a book (or at least a digital book) called Combinations. Every picture would show two or more species together.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 6, 2021 at 4:42 AM

      • Sounds good! The yellow and purple are lovely together. 🙂

        Ann Mackay

        November 7, 2021 at 7:12 AM

        • Yes, yellow and purple go well together—but then I’ll say that about many other color combinations, too.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 7, 2021 at 8:09 AM

    • As for Cheshire, the monument you linked to is one I’d seen online when I looked up information about the mammoth cheese. I’d passed the information on to my sister, who has a country house near Great Barrington. Maybe you’ll go check out the monument next time you’re in Cheshire. Maybe it’ll make you smile like the Cheshire cat.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 6, 2021 at 4:47 AM

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