Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘parasite

Dodder on the prairie

with 24 comments

On the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on April 30th I stopped in several places to photograph dodder (Cuscuta spp.), a parasitic plant that sucks the life out of other plants. Victims in the downward-looking photograph above include square-bud primroses (Calylophus berlandieri), firewheels (Gaillardia pulchella), and antelope-horns milkweed (Asclepias asperula). Here’s a much closer view from the side showing dodder attacking a square-bud primrose:

Parasites repel people, and that’s understandable, but dodder’s yellow-orange-angelhair-pasta-like tangles offer a visual complexity it’s hard for a nature photographer—at least this one—to pass up.

If you want to know more, come read an article of mine about dodder that the Native Plant Society of Texas just published.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 24, 2017 at 4:55 AM

“Diabolical Dodder”

with 16 comments

Read the hot-off-the-presses article “Diabolical Dodder” on the website of the Native Plant Society of Texas.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 23, 2017 at 7:35 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

Desert mistletoe

with 2 comments

desert-mistletoe-in-paloverde-1704a

The custom of kissing under mistletoe on Christmas, which some of you may have enjoyed yesterday, became popular in England in the 1700s and has spread to other English-speaking countries. While most Christmas traditions come from countries with cold winters, genera of mistletoe grow in warm climates, too. On our recent trip through the American Southwest, I was surprised at how common desert mistletoe (Phoradendron californicum) is there and how conspicuous its hanging clusters of red fruits are in those dry surroundings. I saw this desert mistletoe in a paloverde tree (Parkinsonia spp.) at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on November 7th.

And from earlier that morning in Tucson Mountain Park, here’s a closer look at some dense desert mistletoe branches and fruit.

desert-mistletoe-fruit-1669

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 26, 2016 at 5:00 AM

Damselfly with unwelcome hangers-on

with 32 comments

Tan Damselfly with Parasitic Mites 2276

When I first saw something like this years ago I thought the little red things were eggs, but then I learned that they’re parasitic mites. Sorry, damselfly.

This July 23rd picture is from the Muir Lake Trail, a place in Cedar Park where I’d never taken pictures before.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 4, 2015 at 5:26 AM

D. D.

with 13 comments

Dense Dodder on Annual Sumpweed 1811

The D.D. in the title stands for dense dodder, but you don’t have to be dense to wonder what sort of strange thing dodder is: it’s the common name for any of various species that make up the genus Cuscuta in the morning-glory family. Like better-known morning-glories, dodder is a vine, but unlike its family-mates dodder is parasitic, and that difference until recently had botanists putting dodder into a family of its own, Cuscutaceae. Dodder’s parasitic nature explains why the only greenery you see close to the ground in these tangled mounds of yellow-orange capellini (angel-hair pasta) belongs to the plants being parasitized, in this case annual sumpweed, Iva annua.

I found and photographed these plants two days ago at Meadow Lake Park on the Blackland Prairie in eastern Round Rock, where from inside my car I spotted the conspicuous dodder tangles hundreds of feet away and waded through a sea of sumpweed to take this and various other pictures.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 25, 2015 at 5:21 AM

%d bloggers like this: