Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Two takes on smartweed

with 19 comments

From 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 recognize the way backlighting increases color saturation, particularly in the reddish patches that contrast with the soft and subdued blue of the sky. How smart of smartweed to produce leaf nodes that offer themselves up to smart photographers.

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For a couple of years I’ve been aware of The Babylon Bee, a parody website like The Onion in which everything is made up. To get a feel for The Babylon Bee, you can check out a few stories:

The Babylon Bee is clearly a satirical website. No reasonable person would ever think that a story with the headline Report: More Unborn Babies In New York Identifying As Convicted Criminals So They Can’t Legally Be Executed is real. Nevertheless, one peculiarity of the times we live in is that so-called fact-checking organizations have occasionally investigated The Babylon Bee’s made-up stories and rated them for truthfulness! Politifact, for example, gave a Pants on Fire rating to the story “ISIS Lays Down Arms After Katy Perry’s Impassioned Plea To ‘Like, Just Co-Exist.’”

For more information, you’re welcome to watch an interview with The Babylon Bee’s CEO Seth Dillon that begins at about 49:00 into a recent episode of the Megyn Kelly Show.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 11, 2021 at 4:38 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

19 Responses

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  1. I’ve never noticed such saturated color in the leaves and stems, probably because I’m always more focused on the flowers, or have paid close attention to the plants only in the spring and summer. These are lovely images.

    I wondered if the appearance of reddish stems was similar to the appearance of red leaves in fall, and of course it is. I found several scholarly articles about the role of anthocyanins in the change, accompanied by dozens of queries from people wondering why the stems of their cannabis plants were turning red.

    The Babylon Bee is always a fun read. As one of my favorite musicians likes to say, “The problem with irony is not everyone gets it.” The same holds true for satire.


    November 11, 2021 at 7:31 AM

    • Coincidence: a few minutes ago I read a post in the Texas Flora group that mentioned anthocyanins in connection with the relatively small number of flowers that are blue. Now that you’re aware of the reddening stems in smartweed at this time of year, you’ll have to see what you can do with the phenomenon photographically. I’ve been taking advantage of it for several years. I’ve learned that some smartweed leaves turn color earlier than in the fall.

      After I moved to southern states, I noticed plenty of times when people didn’t get my New York sarcasm. Sometimes it got me into trouble.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 11, 2021 at 8:01 AM

      • I looked at that post, and noticed one down the page about Spiranthes. The mention of both Hardin County and Kathleen Appelbaum, who’s closely associated with the Watson Preserve, suggests this might be a good weekend to go orchid hunting in east Texas.


        November 11, 2021 at 8:18 AM

        • Enjoy your visit to the Happy Hunting Grounds. Last week I filled (just barely) my local Spiranthes quota for the year and have a post about it scheduled for tomorrow.

          By the way, Baum is the German word for ‘tree’ (compare the English cognate beam) [of wood]).

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 11, 2021 at 8:26 AM

          • ‘Baum’ may be the first German word I learned, thanks to “O, Tannenbaum.”


            November 11, 2021 at 8:05 PM

            • I hadn’t though about Tannenbaum, which just about everyone here grows up hearing. Appelbaum was slightly anglicized from the presumed German original, Apfelbaum. My seventh grade English teacher’s last name was Apfel.

              Steve Schwartzman

              November 12, 2021 at 5:13 AM

            • I just noticed on the back of the bookjacket for Jonathan Rauch’s The Constitution of Knowledge that there’s a blurb by Anne Applebaum.

              Steve Schwartzman

              November 12, 2021 at 6:33 AM

  2. Thanks for explaining, as you often do, how you were able to get the desired rich effect on your leaf photo! ‘Man wird so alt wie eine Kuh und lernt immer noch dazu’, my mother used to say.

    Peter Klopp

    November 11, 2021 at 8:12 AM

  3. That leaf node looks to be hosting a caterpillar although I guess it’s a sprout since you didn’t mention a caterpillar.

    Steve Gingold

    November 11, 2021 at 6:02 PM

    • As far as I could tell, that was part of the plant. In other cases, as we’ve discussed, I’ve found little critters after the fact in my photographs.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 11, 2021 at 7:55 PM

  4. Hello, I’m Fairy Queen and I write to you from Italy. Nice to know you. Serenity and peace to you 🌹💐🌺🌸🌼 Your photos are wonderful 😍😍😍

    Fairy Queen

    November 11, 2021 at 7:26 PM

  5. Love those colors! I’m noticing various leaves in my garden going all color-n-spotty. I guess they’re ready to call it quits for the growing season. 🙂


    November 12, 2021 at 2:57 PM

    • Let’s hear it for colors! We went down to the Wildflower Center this morning but unfortunately didn’t see impressive color. From what you say, your garden is doing better than that, fortunately for you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 12, 2021 at 3:58 PM

  6. I laughed at the bit about the pants on fire rating – and I’ll bet that The Babylon Bee loves getting a serious fact-check. (Probably the more absurd the better!)

    Ann Mackay

    November 16, 2021 at 12:01 PM

  7. I love the markings and colors on that leaf.


    November 17, 2021 at 1:00 PM

    • I’ve long fancied smartweed leaves, which aren’t large and which I assume most people don’t pay much attention to.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 17, 2021 at 3:37 PM

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