Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Leaf and tendril

with 14 comments

The prostrate vine that botanists call Cucurbita foetidissima has as probably its two most common common names buffalo gourd and stinking gourd, with the latter referring to the plant’s unpleasant (to people) smell. Odor aside, the fuzzy young leaves and tendrils offer themselves up for photographic abstractions like this one from April 16th along the northernmost stretch of Spicewood Springs Rd. across from the library.


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“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

That sentence appears online in various places as a quotation from George Washington. The sentiment is indeed his, but the wording isn’t exact. I found out that Washington addressed the Continental Congress on March 11, 1783, at which time he referred to a certain anonymous document and criticized it:

With respect to the advice given by the author, to suspect the man who shall recommend moderate measures and longer forbearance, I spurn it, as every man who regards that liberty and reveres that justice for which we contend, undoubtedly must; for, if men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us. The freedom of speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent, we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman







Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 7, 2022 at 4:33 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

14 Responses

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  1. A lovely photo. It’s hard to believe that the attractive plant has a foetid odour. By the way are there spicewood trees or bushes in Spicewood Springs?


    May 7, 2022 at 7:34 AM

    • It’s too bad this plant isn’t as attractive olfactorily as it is visually. As I post pictures rather than scents, that’s not a problem. Here’s what the flowers look like:

      Buffalo gourd flower

      Spicewood (Lindera benzoin) does indeed grow in the woods near Spicewood Springs Rd.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 7, 2022 at 8:09 AM

      • The spicewood has attractive berries and flowers. I see that the berry is similar to allspice.


        May 9, 2022 at 2:04 AM

        • I’ve always thought it strange that one spice should be singled out for the name allspice. Maybe whoever did the naming was an allperson.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 9, 2022 at 7:10 AM

  2. Very hairy. The isolation on black really helped here to bring out the details.

    Alessandra Chaves

    May 7, 2022 at 8:36 AM

    • I’ve been using my ring flash a lot lately, which has led to the many recent black backgrounds that serve to isolate subjects. If we’d had more sunshine in the past few weeks I’d have used blue sky more in the same way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 7, 2022 at 3:24 PM

  3. Nice detail! Happy I can’t smell it though!

    Ann Mackay

    May 7, 2022 at 10:10 AM

  4. A fine example of botanical texture.

    Steve Gingold

    May 7, 2022 at 12:41 PM

  5. Everything about this is appealing: the color, the juxtaposition of the curl with the vertical leaves, the fuzziness that says ‘touch me!” When I read ‘leaf and tendril,’ I thought first of grape vines, but this is a more than satisfying alternative.


    May 7, 2022 at 10:14 PM

    • I’m satisfied with the picture and with your satisfaction, too. “Steampunk” came to mind, but I wasn’t sure if I understand the term well enough to use it in my text to describe this arrangement. The USDA map shows buffalo gourd in Harris County, then not again for another four of five counties farther west. If you made it to the Edwards Plateau this weekend, you may be in for seeing some.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 7, 2022 at 10:48 PM

  6. Amazing picture !


    May 8, 2022 at 12:05 PM

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