Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for July 6th, 2022

Big and small

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Of the native perennial in Travis County known as leafcup and hairy cupweed, local botanist Bill Carr writes that it is “rare and local in and along margins of mesic deciduous riparian woodlands on terraces of perennial streams. Also known in Texas from Collins, Comal, Gonzales, Gregg, Nacogdoches and McLennan counties.” Where I know it from is along one stretch of Bull Creek, where I made opposite-side portraits on June 25th.


Regarding hairy cupweed’s scientific name, Smallanthus uvedalius, the authors of Shinners and Mahler’s Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas say that its “derivation [is] unknown, not indicated by Linnaeus.” However, as Linda Leinen noted in a comment, the same book says in the previous paragraph that the genus is “named for John Kunkel Small, 1869–1938, American botanist and author of numerous works including Manual of the Southeastern Flora.” Greek anthos means ‘flower,’ and the flower heads of this species are coincidentally a little on the small side for a plant of this size. At the same time the Small in the name is ironic because the plant’s leaves are disproportionately large: Marshall Enquist says that they can reach 15 inches in length and width. According to Wikipedia, all the other species in the genus Smallanthus grow in Mexico, Central America, or South America. (And for a reason I don’t understand, Wikipedia lists the Texas species as Smallanthus uvedalia, with a feminine ending, but uses a masculine suffix for other species of Smallanthus.)



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Two days ago was the Fourth of July. To accord with that, Bari Weiss’s Common Sense blog ran the post “What We Love About America.” Many of the people who told what they love about America are immigrants.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 6, 2022 at 4:29 AM

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