Readers’ wildlife photos

January 1, 2020 • 8:00 am

Today we have some plant photos from Rik Gern, whose notes are indented:

Let’s take a trip to Spooky Town this time. I usually like to photograph the prettiest plants that catch my eye, but the more I observe plants and their various patterns and structures, the more beautiful they all look to me. Last Spring a weed known as Prickly Sowthistle (Sonchus asper)–which looks like a weaponized dandelion–caught my eye with its bold patterns of spiky leaves, and I decided to let it grow to full height to be able to observe and photograph it in various stages. It reached between three and four feet in height before it started to go to seed and I uprooted it, but in the meantime I had a chance to become familiar with its ferocious defensive beauty.

From some perspectives the plant looks like a menacing forest of knives, blades and broken glass, but look at it slightly differently and you can see an efficient fortress arising to protect tiny buds, giving them the chance to unfurl and add their brief moment of color to the world before turning grey, disbursing, and starting the whole cycle over again. Prickly Sowthistle may be just a nasty invasive weed, but it’s also a perfect illustration of Darwin’s observation that “endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved”.

I also couldn’t resist compositing two pictures, psychedelicizing them, and turning them into strange “portraits”. I hope you don’t find them too creepy or ugly–I kind of like them!


14 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Great shots. Sometimes when I shoot down in the weeds like this, I get the feeling of exploring another planet. Last two are like, whoa, dude, real trippy. Groovy man.

  2. I like your psychedelic renderings, but the close-up studies of this plant are beautiful and striking. Thanks for sharing these.

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