Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Hardly the only grabber

with 41 comments

Yesterday’s post showed how mustang grape vines (Vitis mustangensis) are great grabbers of other plants. So are Texas bindweeds, Convolvulus equitans, one of which you see here had twined its way around a fiewheel, Gaillardia pulchella, on the same roadside strip along FM 2222 as the mustang grape on May 10th. Curiously, most of the Texas bindweed flowers there had their petals bent back in an atypical way, as shown below.


❧         ❧         ❧


It would be funny, if it weren’t so sad, to see how many Americans of high school and college age know so little about so many basic things. Here’s a 4-minute video full of examples. And here’s a 5-minute one. Some of the questions that stumped people were: “What’s Obama’s last name?” “How much is 3 x 3 x 3?” “How many eggs are in a dozen?” “What’s the capital of the United States?” “What does Y-E-S spell?” Even worse than not knowing, some of the people gave crazy answers, like the United States gained its independence from Korea. Or take the question: “If you drive 60 miles an hour for one hour, how far do you travel?” One person said “I don’t know, I’m not good at math,” and her friend answered “Two hours” (presumably because the question contained the word “hour” two times).

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 23, 2022 at 4:36 AM

41 Responses

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  1. As funny as the answers of these students are, it is very disturbing that we have to continue with such youth…. This problem often arises in the workplace!


    May 23, 2022 at 5:14 AM

    • I agree: it’s scary to think of so many incompetent and unaware young people in the workplace, and what the consequences are for the rest of us.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 23, 2022 at 6:31 AM

  2. Your bindweed flower is quite pretty compared to our wild one (white) which is the bane of my life right now, climbing and strangling everything in the garden. Your piece about the students is rather worrying, I have to wonder what it is that teachers teach these days, though here teachers are more likely to act as childminders and social workers (without the training) rather than be knowledgeable about their subjects. Though woe betide them if their ‘young people’ don’t meet the grades.


    May 23, 2022 at 5:56 AM

    • Is it Convolvulus arvensis that’s the bane of your gardening life? That Eurasian species has long since jumped the ocean and become a problem in America as well.

      My commentaries throughout the past year have made it clear how horrified I am by the way our schools have been turning into indoctrination factories. The more time spent on radical ideology, the less remains for important things like arithmetic, history, reading, and writing. In many American schools teachers are allowed to give out only a very few failing grades, regardless of how little students have learned. That policy is intended to cover up the ineptitude of teachers and students alike, and to conceal the problem from the public.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 23, 2022 at 6:45 AM

      • No that’s the field bindweed which is actually rather pretty and often found on the coastal shoreline. The one I have is Calystegia sepium / hedge bindweed. practically impossible to remove as the roots snap as you pull or dig it out.


        May 23, 2022 at 9:21 AM

        • I checked and found that fortunately Calystegia sepium hasn’t made its way my county. Here’s what Wikipedia says of hedge bindweed:

          Other vernacular names include greater bindweed, bearbind, hedge convolvulus, hooded bindweed, old man’s nightcap, wild morning glory, bride’s gown, wedlock (referring to the white gown-like flowers and the binding nature of the vine), white witches hat, belle of the ball, devil’s guts and hedgebell. A common childhood pastime in the UK is to ‘pop’ the flowers from the sepals while chanting “Granny, granny — pop out of bed”.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 23, 2022 at 2:45 PM

          • The childhood pastime must be before my time 😂 but I do remember popping fuchsia buds. And Impatiens has the common name, touch-me-not, as when you do the seeds explode!


            May 23, 2022 at 5:54 PM

            • Maybe you can launch a campaign—and an explosive one at that—to restore the “Granny, granny — pop out of bed” tradition.

              Steve Schwartzman

              May 23, 2022 at 9:40 PM

  3. Ha! I know the answers. I even got the math one right and I barely do math! I think 9 year old #1 Grandson will be able to answer most of these. I know he knows what the nation’s capitol is as he’s a huge Revolutionary War buff already and now reading adult aged books about it. He has my copy of Founding Brothers he’s reading now.

    The flowers are gorgeous, but wonder what the symbiotic relationship is with the climbing plant? Is it just to maintain its stability and its ability to spread out, and there’s nothing in it for the other flower?


    May 23, 2022 at 7:27 AM

    • Good for you and #1 grandson.

      As far as I know, this is not a symbiotic relationship, and the bindweed offers nothing to the plants it climbs on.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 23, 2022 at 2:48 PM

      • I just got off the phone with #1 Grandson. He knew all the answers! Even the 3x3x3 one. I thought that one and the 60 miles an hour for an hour one might get him since he’s just learning multiplication, but he got both right! I’m sending him the link to the videos so he can see for himself how the people answered.


        May 23, 2022 at 5:35 PM

  4. Nice post



    May 23, 2022 at 7:47 AM

    • You’re most welcome. (Sorry for the delayed reply. WordPress sent your comment to the spam folder.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 28, 2022 at 4:05 PM

  5. Some of these kids were my students in college 🙄. Vines are really fascinating!

    Alessandra Chaves

    May 23, 2022 at 7:53 AM

    • I’m sorry but not at all surprised to hear that you had students like this in college. Instead of taxing the super-rich more, I think we’d take in more money by taxing the ignorant.

      Yes, vines are fascinating. They’ve provided—and keep providing—me with many pictures

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 23, 2022 at 2:52 PM

      • Well, in order to become an American citizen, there were some four or five things I had to know to pass a test. I got ahead that way. 😉

        Alessandra Chaves

        May 23, 2022 at 10:22 PM

        • I seem to remember Eve was given a hundred questions—along with their answers—to study. A small, random subset of those appeared on her actual test.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 24, 2022 at 6:41 AM

  6. As a retired teacher, I read your report on the present state of education with profound sadness. The current trend is to teach thinking skills. But how can you think without the basic facts?

    Peter Klopp

    May 23, 2022 at 8:44 AM

    • I share your profound sadness. I’ll amend your statement slightly: the people in charge of education say they’re teaching thinking skills, but of course that’s a lie. As you pointed out, without basic facts our school kids have nothing legitimate to think about.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 23, 2022 at 2:57 PM

  7. And these people vote! I’m all for ease of voting, but I wish more people knew what they were voting for or against. If someone thinks we won our independence from Korea, that person surely doesn’t know much about the issues in an election!

    Kathryn S Henderson

    May 23, 2022 at 10:45 AM

    • If it’s any consolation to you, kids like the ones in the videos probably don’t actually vote very often. The fact that at least some of them do, though, is a source of consternation. I think Americans who want to be allowed to vote should have to pass the same civics test that foreigners have to when they apply to become citizens.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 23, 2022 at 3:01 PM

  8. Those videos would be funny if they weren’t so horrifying. If this is the next coming generation, we are in deep trouble.

    Eliza Waters

    May 23, 2022 at 1:41 PM

    • Horrifying indeed, especially because the situation keeps getting worse, not better. The deep trouble we’re in has depressed me for years already.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 23, 2022 at 3:03 PM

  9. I sometimes wonder how I would do if I were quizzed on the spot about some seemingly straightforward topics. I suspect that people’s brains get bound up by nerves, not unlike the firewheel having its vital forces choked by the bindweed.


    May 23, 2022 at 5:17 PM

  10. Argh! It’s scary that those questions could ever get the wrong answers and bindweed is scary for gardeners here. (It’s hedge bindweed, same as in Jude’s garden. Awful stuff that wants to smother everything.)

    Ann Mackay

    May 24, 2022 at 8:01 AM

  11. Perfect capture. Beautiful photos!

    • Thanks, Isabel. I just pulled your comment out of WordPress’s spam folder. Why it sometimes sends legitimate comments there, I’ve never understood. I’m glad I found yours only a day late.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 26, 2022 at 6:47 AM

  12. […] west of the Capital of Texas Highway (the same location that provided the pictures for the posts on Monday, Sunday, and Saturday). The critter above is a tachinid fly in the genus Cylindromyia on a […]

  13. I’m fairly certain intention doesn’t play a role in the bindweed’s twining, but it amused me to see similarities between the plant’s appearance here and photos I have of spiders that have wrapped up prey in a different sort of embrace. Can’t you hear that firewheel pleading (in the words of the old song) “Please release me, let me go…”? If I’d come across this scene, I might have been tempted to do a little snipping of that vine.


    May 25, 2022 at 8:32 AM

  14. I love the composition and colors in your first image. The lines and shapes are very eye-catching!


    May 27, 2022 at 10:57 AM

  15. I loathe convolvulus ..and sadly in the warmer months it’s alive and well at our place.


    May 29, 2022 at 10:04 PM

    • I assume the Convolvulus at your place is a non-native invasive species. All the species I show in my posts are native here, though that doesn’t mean farmers and gardeners like them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 30, 2022 at 7:25 AM

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