Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 11 comments


First came a tree branch. Then lichens partly surrounded the branch. Then on top of the lichens came a ball moss, Tillandsia recurvata. (If your imagination turns the ball moss into a supernumerary spider, that’s on you.) I played botanical archaeologist with the layers on March 4th on the grounds of Central City Austin, which despite its name is a church far from the center of Austin.

I seem able to get away with epiepiphyte [from Greek epi, meaning ‘upon, over, around’] in my title because there’s ambiguity in the term epiphyte. All the dictionaries I’ve checked give a definition like ‘a plant that grows on another plant but is not parasitic on it.’ The key word in such definitions is plant. Outside dictionaries, some sources use epiphyte more broadly by replacing plant with organism. For instance, the Wikipedia article on epiphytes says “Epiphytes in marine systems are species of algae, bacteria, fungi, sponges, bryozoans, ascidians, protozoa, crustaceans, molluscs and any other sessile organism that grows on the surface of a plant, typically seagrasses or algae.” While Wikipedia isn’t always to be trusted, I’m finding the more expansive sense of epiphyte in indisputably scientific sources as well. For example, the book Forest Conditions in a Changing Environment speaks of “epiphytic lichens, which grow on the branches and trunks of trees.” And so it seems I can get away with calling the ball moss in this picture an epiepiphyte.



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I recently came across Alan Levinovitz’s article “The info equivalent of junk food,” with subtitle “Ultra-processed information is hijacking our appetites much like ultra-processed snacks do.” Check it out.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 18, 2023 at 4:36 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , ,

11 Responses

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  1. I hate to say it, but the only word I can see when I look at ‘epiepiphyte’ is ‘pie.’ That certainly offers an unusual way to see your photo: as a lichen pie with a dollop of moss on top. I’d not eat this one, but I surely can appreciate it.


    March 18, 2023 at 10:08 AM

    • I guess that makes you the Pied Piper leading viewers away to a new interpretation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 18, 2023 at 10:32 AM

      • Not only that, I just found a way to eliminate the block of nine ads sponsored by Outbrain that were cluttering up your page and several others. Adblock Plus wasn’t taking them out by default. Adding a custom filter was the trick. I think I’ll leave a ‘housekeeping’ note on my blog for any others who are frustrated by the intrusiveness (and tackiness) of those ads.


        March 18, 2023 at 11:10 AM

        • Several months ago I installed either Adblock or Adblock Plus and found it eliminated the block of nine ads from my view of my own pages. Because that worked, I never pursued custom filters, which in fact I didn’t even know about. You’ll be a good Internet citizen in posting that ‘housekeeping’ note on your blog.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 18, 2023 at 11:26 AM

  2. I don’t know why, but I love the word ‘epiphyte’ and like LInda, only see ‘pie’ in ‘epiepiphyte’. I also love the German word, ‘Entschuldigung’. Something fun about words starting with ‘e’ I guess. 🙂


    March 18, 2023 at 12:52 PM

    • Maybe I should have put a hyphen after the first epi, but then I would have deprived you both of your pie. It’s probably better that I left you pie-ous.

      As for i> Entschuldigung ‘apology, excuse,’ I see that the root of that compound had a cognate in Old English: scyld, which meant ‘guilt, sin, crime, offense, fault, debt, due, obligation, liability.’

      And if it’s words beginning with e you especially eagerly empathize with, how about effulgent, eleemosynary, eschew, and extirpate?

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 18, 2023 at 1:38 PM

  3. tonytomeo

    March 18, 2023 at 11:35 PM

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