Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Stickleaf on a sunny morning

with 14 comments

Seems like I almost always have to go into Williamson County to find stickleaf, Mentzelia oligosperma. That was true on May 13th when we visited Northwest Williamson County Regional Park for the first time in years and found stickleaf in several spots there. The plant gets its common name from the fact that its leaves readily cling to clothing and even skin. The second picture shows why.



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I spend a fair amount of time looking things up because I strive for accuracy in my commentaries. That’s why I include so many links to documents. If you’re aware of any facts that I’ve reported incorrectly, please point them out. Of course people can disagree about what policies to follow, but we have to start from the facts.




Speaking of illegal immigration into the United States, as I did last time, here are the official 2022 figures for the number of monthly encounters border patrol agents have had with people who illegally entered the country by coming across the border from Mexico:

January: 154,812

February: 165,894

March: 221,303

And for April the number was 234,088, the highest ever recorded. Do you see a trend? While a portion of the people encountered get sent back, many are allowed to remain, and the current administration pays their way to go wherever they choose to go inside our country. The government even sends some of the illegal border-crossers to their destinations on charter flights, though officials have managed to conceal many of those from the public. According to an April 20th New York Post article by Miranda Devine:


… in recent weeks “the charters are back with a fury,” says a whistleblower from Avelo Airlines, one of three charter companies raking in millions of taxpayer dollars whisking migrants out of sight.

Staffers are disturbed by the secrecy of the operation, and the prospect that they are participating in a human-trafficking operation, the whistleblower says.

“The charters are not on our paperwork, not on the [air-traffic] breakdown, not on the schedule, not on the flight plan. They’re not listed anywhere”…

Avelo employees have begun openly to discuss concerns that they may be participating in human trafficking, says the whistleblower, especially with so many ­unaccompanied minors on flights.

“We’re trafficking children,” the whistleblower says. “I am not OK with that happening . . .
“The company is saying it’s not true, but people don’t believe that, and everyone wants to leave. People stay for three months and leave.”


Title 42, a Covid-era policy that allows authorities to immediately send illegal entrants back across the border without having to entertain their political asylum claims (most of which are really the understandable desire to have a better standard of living), is set to expire on May 23rd—just three days from today. According to the Texas Tribune: “Homeland Security predicts up to 18,000 daily encounters with migrants — more than double the current average — when Title 42 ends.” Now, I’ve long been leery of the phrase “up to,” a staple ploy that advertisers use to make people think the average value of something is larger than it really is. So let’s say that if Title 42 ends, the number of encounters with illegal border-crosses will rise to “only” 15,000 every day rather than 18,000 every day. And let’s say that without Title 42, authorities will have to let 12,000 of those 15,000 new illegal border-crossers remain inside the United States every day. Where will that leave us? Since 12,000 is a daily number, we’ll multiply by 365.25 to estimate the yearly toll. We find that the current administration will be allowing 4,383,000 illegal border-crossers to stay in our country every year. If that continues unabated, then between now and when the current administration’s term ends in January of 2025, something like 11,000,000 illegal entrants will have been allowed to stay in our country. To give you a sense of scale, remember that the country’s largest city, New York, has a little under 9 million people. In other words, the illegal entrants allowed to stay here in just the next two-and-a-half years could be imagined to form the nation’s new largest city, though not a contiguous one. And of course to those 11,000,000 illegal entrants we’ll have to add the presumed one million or two million or three million that made it past overworked and understaffed border authorities altogether—the so-called gotaways.

Some people think that this kind of mass lawlessness is how we should be running our country. I don’t.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 20, 2022 at 4:35 AM

14 Responses

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  1. Aptly named plant. There are so many that could share the moniker.

    Steve Gingold

    May 20, 2022 at 5:10 AM

    • True enough: there are plenty of things out there in nature that want to cling to us. Unlike a bunch of the other ones in Texas, at least stickleaf doesn’t hurt.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 20, 2022 at 5:23 AM

  2. Such a pretty flower. The sticky leaf reminded me of the bits of borage leaves which stick to my clothes when I am working in the garden.


    May 20, 2022 at 6:11 AM

    • A pretty little flower indeed, and cheerful. I checked to see if stickleaf is in the same botanical family as borage: it’s not.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 20, 2022 at 6:15 AM

  3. The flowers reminded me of St. John’s Wort, which I’ve seen only in east Texas. I’d never heard of this one, so I poked around a bit and found an affirmation of its clinginess on this site:

    “The common names refer to the tendency of the plant parts to adhere tenaciously to fur, feathers, or clothing. A field botanist whom I know has had Mentzelia leaves persist on his trousers through airline travel and subsequent laundering. This tenacity is caused by the presence of complex hairs bearing whorls of retrorse barbs. These “pagodaform” hairs are a distinguishing feature of the Mentzelia genus.”

    If you go to the page and scroll down past photos of the plant, there’s a microscopic view of the hairs that’s quite amazing; they truly are pagoda-like.


    May 20, 2022 at 6:55 AM

    • You’re welcome. Thanks for the link. This is the first I’ve heard of pagodaform hairs. I’ve always imagined horsemint flowers as little purple pagodas. Stickleaf leaves can easily get mashed down into clothing and be hard to remove, as the quoted botanist indicated.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 20, 2022 at 9:18 AM

  4. Nice shots



    May 20, 2022 at 9:00 AM

  5. Perhaps the stickleaf could inspire another velcro application.

    Peter Klopp

    May 20, 2022 at 9:04 AM

    • Check out the pagodaform hairs in the final photograph that shoreacres linked to in her comment and maybe you’ll be inspired to create the next velcro.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 20, 2022 at 9:19 AM

  6. Nice


    May 20, 2022 at 9:28 AM

  7. Looking at the detailed photo of the leaf, I can see why it sticks!

    Alessandra Chaves

    May 21, 2022 at 8:28 AM

    • Definitely. I made a point of getting a good photograph showing the underside of a leaf. In the past I’d always focused on the attractive flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 21, 2022 at 11:47 AM

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