Photos of the Week – December 10, 2021

Goatsbeard, also known as yellow salsify (Tragopogon dubius), is a wildflower native to Europe and western Asia. It has become widespread across North America and, at least in the prairies I’m familiar with, doesn’t seem to be problematic. Instead, it seems to have joined our native plant communities in a relatively friendly way.

Regardless of its status as a native plant, it’s definitely a species I’ve come to appreciate from a photographer’s perspective. The flower is very pretty, but the seed heads are what really grab me. Even if you don’t recognize the name of the species, it’s likely you’ve seen the seed heads out there in the world. They look like dandelion seedheads, but are about the size of your fist.

Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/7, 1/100 sec.

When I find a goatsbeard seed head, my inclination is to stick my macro lens right into it. The fuzzy/fluffy appendages to the seed (the pappuses) capture light in an amazing way and the patterns created by a mass of them are hard to pass up. I have way too many abstract close-up images of goatsbeard, but every seed head is a little different and I keep finding new angles I like! Here is a very small sample of photos from recent years.

Goatsbeard, aka salsify, in bloom. (Tragopogon dubius).
Goatsbeard seed on hoary vervain flower. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/16, 1/160 sec.
Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/13, 1/100 sec.
Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 400, f/20, 1/50 sec.
Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/10, 1/640 sec.
The only real difference between this image and the one below is the focal point. I like both versions, but it’s amazing how much difference the choice of a focal point makes. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 200, f/13, 1/400 sec.
See above to compare this image to the previous one. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 200, f/13, 1/400 sec.
Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 400, f/20, 1/50 sec.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Chris Helzer. Bookmark the permalink.

About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.

12 thoughts on “Photos of the Week – December 10, 2021

  1. This species has definitely increased its cover exponentially here along the Front Range of Colorado, becoming one of the most common (or at least visibly) common species in our grasslands. It seems to particularly like areas where past weed control efforts via herbicide or grazing have opened up more bare soil, but is nearly equally adapt at establishing in dense, native stands of prairie. Watch what you wish for.

    • That’s interesting, David, and I appreciate the comment. It certainly isn’t a good competitor in established prairie around here, but spreads in a garden setting (I know from personal experience!). We’ll keep an eye on it!

  2. These are some great salsify photos, Chris! I love the one with the seed on vervain, especially.

    Thanks for sharing what you see.

    Dave

    On Fri, Dec 10, 2021 at 11:53 AM The Prairie Ecologist wrote:

    > Chris Helzer posted: ” Goatsbeard, also known as yellow salsify > (Tragopogon dubius), is a wildflower native to Europe and western Asia. It > has become widespread across North America and, at least in the prairies > I’m familiar with, doesn’t seem to be problematic. Instead, it ” >

  3. It’s hard to pick a single favorite from this group, but the photo with the vervain certainly is unusual and appealing. On the other hand, the kaleidoscopic effect in the sixth image really caught my eye. Wouldn’t it be great to have a lens that we could twist like a kaleidoscope to rearrange an image?

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