Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘seed

Pale umbrellawort

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Making its debut here today is Mirabilis albida, apparently known as pale umbrellawort, white four o’clock, and hairy four o’clock. I found this one on August 22nd—though six-and-a-half hours earlier than four o’clock—in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183. The USDA map shows the species growing in places as far apart as Quebec and southern California.


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Did you hear the latest news about equity in mathematics? Because the word odd has negative connotations like ‘strange’ and ‘not usual,’ a group of college math students demanded that all whole numbers, whether previously considered odd or even, must now be designated even. Professors of mathematics immediately apologized to the students for the centuries of evenist domination they’d been complicit with, and they promised that no future syllabi or textbooks would perpetuate evenism.

Then an ideologically purer subset of students took issue with the first group, asking why they’d stopped at the whole numbers, which comprise only a tiny oppressive elite of all numbers. The second student group began chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, fraction-phobes have got to go.” The original student group found that chant, especially the “hey hey, ho ho” part, so profound they immediately recognized the disparate impact that their “all whole numbers are even” decree would have on fractions. They agreed that the sacred value of inclusion requires that fractions be included as whole numbers from now on. The mathematics professors promptly issued an apology for not having recognized their unconscious bias against fractions.

It didn’t take long before a third group of math students more woke than the second group started agitating because of the harm that would still befall the irrational numbers, which can never be expressed as fractions no matter how much affirmanumerative action colleges and government agencies give them. Imagine those numbers going through life saddled with the name irrational, as if they’re not in their right mind! The second student group soon confessed their lack of inclusiveness and agreed, for the sake of belonging, that all numbers will now belong to the set of whole numbers. The mathematics professors quickly issued an abject apology for othering the numbers they hadn’t previously accepted as whole numbers.

Barely had things settled down when a fourth group of math students complained that all the previous groups were still oppressors because categorizing numbers in any way at all is racist. For the sake of equity, the fourth group insisted that the only allowable view is that all numbers are equal. From now on, no matter what number a student comes up with as an answer to a question on a math test, that answer has to be correct because all numbers are equal. Similarly, students must now be allowed to pay whatever amount they want for tuition because any number of dollars is equal to any other number of dollars. The mathematics professors immediately acceded to the new demands and issued a deep apology for the violence caused by their previous silence about all numbers actually being equal.

But then a fifth group of students pointed out that all those changes were meaningless because, let’s face it, mathematics is based on objectivity and rigor, which are tools of the cisheteronormative white supremacist patriarchy. The mathematics professors, without even waiting to hear the fifth student group’s demands for change, realized that the only proper course of action was to stop studying and teaching the horrid subject of mathematics altogether, so they shut down the mathematics department. In its place they created a new department to offer Doctorates in Diversity Training (DDT).

Okay, so all those things didn’t really happen—at least not yet. Give it a few months.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 29, 2021 at 4:35 AM

Sunflowers on the prairie

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Behold the flower head of a “common” sunflower, Helianthus annuus,
on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin on August 24th.

Sunflower seed head remains also have their appeal, whether from the front or from behind.

As much as I normally don’t like shooting up into a white sky,
once in a while it serves as a good way to isolate a subject.

You may imagine the stem at the bottom of the second image continuing on into the stem
at the top of the third image. I didn’t do that on purpose but I like the way it came out.

©2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 9, 2019 at 4:41 AM

Transitory

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But truth be told of glory:
It’s always transitory.

This is what had become of a soft golden-aster flower head
when I photographed it in Bastrop State Park on June 6th.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 21, 2019 at 4:40 AM

A Rembrandtian composite

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This post’s title notwithstanding, today’s photograph is not a composite of several images. No, “composite” is a traditional botanical name for any member of the sunflower family. Of which composite these are the remains remains unclear. Horticulturist Anna Fialvoff said that she thought it might be running groundsel, Packera obovata [which amazingly also grows in Austin], but that she would expect more fluff on the spent seed head.

I made this portrait, which strikes me as Rembrandtian in its tonality, at Garden in the Woods in Framingham, Massachusetts, on June 12.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 11, 2018 at 6:29 PM

Sandbur

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Sandbur Seed Head 0621

Yesterday’s photograph of strangely spiky galls at Illinois Beach State Park suddenly reminded me this morning of something spiky that’s common in Austin but that I’ve somehow never shown you in these pages. It’s Cenchrus spinifex, a native grass known as sandbur and bur grass. What’s common to those two common names is the bur, and in this June 30th photograph from Great Hills Park you can see how sharp the burs on the seed heads of this grass are. Ouch.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 28, 2016 at 5:31 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Hierba de zizotes

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Hierba de Zizotes Flowers and Seed 7236

Here’s a first for this blog: Asclepias oenotheroides, which has the vernacular names side-cluster milkweed and (even in English) hierba de zizotes. Hierba in Spanish means ‘plant,’ and as best I can make out, zizote is one of various forms of a Mexican Spanish word—others being sicote, cizote, sisote—that refers to a type of skin lesion. When milkweeds are bent or bruised, they release drops of a white liquid that can indeed irritate some people’s skin, so perhaps this species of milkweed was known to cause those lesions. Or maybe the opposite was true, namely that this plant could be used to treat that skin condition. If anyone has better information about the name, I’d be glad to hear it.

In any case, you need no words to enjoy this milkweed flower, seed, and silk that I found at the Meister Lane cul-de-sac in southeastern Round Rock on October 1st.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 15, 2015 at 5:02 AM

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