While out at Discovery Bay last weekend, I got a bit obsessed with photographing Capeweed (Arctotheca calendula), an environmental weed on mainland Australia. Capeweed is found in areas of habitation (gardens and lawns), among agricultural crops and pastures and in conservation areas, displacing ephemeral native species, harbouring pests that threaten indigenous species and posing a threat to the integrity of plant communities and the survival of threatened species in these sites.
So why photograph it? As soon as I got up close to this garish flower, I caught a glimpse of a much more subtle beauty. I often think that, if we can see beyond the context of our understanding of this and other species as weeds, we are able to simply observe them for what they are.
And also to learn how and why it is able to spread so successfully. It’s hard not to be amazed by the strategies of nature.
From budding to withering…
1: Bud contained within juicy, feathered bracts
2: Bracts retract to reveal the “petals” neatly tucked in. Daisy flowers are actually inflorescences or groups of florets; the outer ring of petals are ligular florets with a ligule or strap that looks like a petal.
3: The ligules unfurl
4: Opening to reveal the inner tubular florets
5: Open for pollination
6: The falling of the tubular florets reveals a tangle of wool that surrounds each cypsela or fruit
8: The star-like floral attachment points resemble Venetian glass beads
9: The woolly cypselas become increasingly fluffy in order to catch the wind for dispersal
10: Ready for dispersal
12: Cypselas dispersing
15: Subtle colours… this woolly covering attracts moisture, creating a little germination bed and increasing the chance of survival of the seeds inside, once on the ground and ripe.
14: Dispersal reveals a beautiful receptacle
15: Remains of the tubular florets that ring the receptacle
16: All parts weather and brown
17: Beauty in senescence