Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Green milkweed pods

with 19 comments


From June 14th along San Gabriel Parkway in Leander come these views of green milkweed pods, Asclepias viridis. An incessant wind had me resorting to shutter speeds as high as 1/1250 of a second, which is the one I used for the second picture.




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I’ve intermittently been working on a glossary to explain what seemingly innocuous or positive-sounding words and phrases from social activist jargon really mean. The other day I learned that Drs. Bruce Gilley, Peter Boghossian, and James Lindsay have beaten me to it with a poster they put together called “Responding to Social Justice Rhetoric: a Cheat Sheet for Policy Makers.” I think they did a good job interpreting the current incarnation of newspeak.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 28, 2022 at 4:35 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , ,

19 Responses

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  1. As difficult as the wind can make it for us trying to photograph these, I suppose it’s a great thing for the plants, helping spread their seeds. I really like that first photograph with the pod just opening.

    Todd Henson

    June 28, 2022 at 8:31 AM

    • The wind had me taking a lot more pictures of the milkweed seeds and fluff than I normally would, given the high percent of unsuccessful photographs I figured I’d end up with. You’re right, though, that the milkweed profits greatly from that same wind as a disseminator of seeds.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 28, 2022 at 9:18 AM

  2. It looks like on étais délivré! Also very soft and silky.


    June 28, 2022 at 8:55 AM

    • I’m glad these milkweed pods were delivered up to me, so to speak, so I could photograph them. You’re right that the fluff is soft and silky. Some ended up sticking to my hand, which had gotten some sticky sunflower resin on it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 28, 2022 at 9:22 AM

  3. I love the first photo that you were able to capture so well despite the strong wind shaking the milkweed plant.

    Peter Klopp

    June 28, 2022 at 9:13 AM

    • As is often my modus operandi, I stabilized the plant the best I could with my left hand while wielding the camera with my right hand. It’s an unconventional technique that nevertheless has often worked for me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 28, 2022 at 9:24 AM

      • And it’s a technique that I admire. Despite my continuing efforts, I still haven’t been able to emulate it.


        June 29, 2022 at 6:16 AM

  4. I prefer the second photo with the wide open pod and a pair of seeds taking flight (or about to do so). Don’t know why, I just do. The link to the poster provided a mostly black screen with a white square in the middle. Newspeak of course, was coined by Orwell. Interestingly or not, I contributed a definition to a book by Katrina Van Heuvel, who was editing The Nation magazine at the time.. Dictionary of Republicanisms was the title (isbn 1-564025-789-) and provided a similar sort of decoding of terms used. As the Chad Mitchell Trio (I think) used to say: Ï’m an American first, and a politician second…[response] Spoken like a true American Politician.”George Carlin speaking to the Washington Press Corps is also not a waste of time or mental attention.


    June 28, 2022 at 9:41 AM

    • I checked the link again just now and it still works for me. One thing you can try is copy the URL and paste it into the address field in a different Internet browser from your usual one. I’ve had a bunch of experiences over the years where one browser could properly render a site that another browser couldn’t. You can also try your smartphone rather than your computer. I also just found the same document at different websites:

      Click to access Responding-to-Social-Justice-Rhetoric.pdf


      I’m not sure “I’m an American first” still works. Some people say there are now at least two distinct Americas that seem irreconcilable. And yet a lot of Americans get along personally. Me, I’ve never belonged to any political party, though I come closer to the tenets of some than of others.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 28, 2022 at 10:02 AM

    • As for preferring the second picture to the first, the Romans had an adage that still applies: De gustibus non disputandum est, There’s no arguing about tastes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 28, 2022 at 10:04 AM

  5. Funny chair. Good job on the milkweed seed pod. It’s hard to believe the wind was blowing.

    Alessandra Chaves

    June 28, 2022 at 1:01 PM

    • I meant to return to those milkweeds (and other plants) on a less windy day but never made it back. Even so, as you noted, I got some acceptable pictures in spite of the wind.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 28, 2022 at 1:10 PM

  6. My milkweed pods are still tight as a drum. Actually they are relatively hollow so they sound a bit like a drum too. I particularly like the second which is a somewhat unique shot.

    Steve Gingold

    June 28, 2022 at 4:34 PM

    • I assume your milkweeds are behind ours for the usual reason, namely that you’re so much farther north.
      I like the second picture, too, though I wish that in addition to the seeds more of the silk ended up in focus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 28, 2022 at 6:31 PM

  7. this is interesting.


    June 29, 2022 at 3:38 AM

  8. The absence of any visible seeds in the first photo makes it especially interesting. I think there’s a natural tendency to try and capture the seeds as well as the fluff, and I like just a glimpse of the fluff. It seems to be testing the wind, like someone holding up a wet finger to judge the wind’s strength and direction.

    It took me a while to figure out that the ‘green-ness’ of both photos was catching my eye, too. I think of opening or opened pods as quite brown. Perhaps I’ve only paid attention to pods that are further along in the drying process.


    June 29, 2022 at 6:22 AM

    • I don’t think I’d ever paid attention to the residual greenness in the opening pods, so I’m glad you brought it up. I wonder whether any that open are ever noticeably greener than the ones here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 2, 2022 at 8:00 AM

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