Monday, August 10, 2009


I remember the seeds, and their slender pods—
that afternoon in March, cold and bright with sunshine.
How I fussed to capture them—lifted on the slightest breeze, carried effortlessly away.
Beyond the fields, still in the faded brown of winter, from their curling brick-red wraps tightly fastened to silvery bare branches, as winter held onto spring.
Beyond beauty, there was nothing more.

Hemp Dogbane, Apocynum cannabinum

In my summer field, again I find it.
Blossoms hint of long pods forming,
blushing stems with white-veined leaves that bleed a milky sap--
like milkweed, though it’s not.
Beyond beauty, intrigue.

Dogbane Beetle, Chrysochus auratus

A beetle sipping from the dew wears every color in his jacket,
walks the leaves red stems support.
And I learn his name is Dogbane—
of this plant,
with seed so light,
pods dangling,
red stems, white veins, and sap like milk.

Beyond beauty, finally, understanding.

View more ABC Wednesdays here!

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Arija said...

The simplest most insignificant things in nature often bring the greatest revelations. Beautifully put and presented Nina.

mrsnesbitt said...


Janet Creamer said...

Beautiful post, Nina. And one of my favorite beetles. So iridescent.

RuneE said...

I bow deepley to that last one!

ArneA said...

Did not find your abc Wed = D

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Nina, do you know if the eggs of this beetle are an irridescent gold? We have hemp growing along our back fence--escapees from the unkept field behind us. Last summer when my daughter and I were checking them for butterfly eggs (at the time I still thought they were milkweed plants), we found one leaf with half a dozen shiny golden eggs on the underside.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

The first beetle photo makes his wings look like a gazing ball. Great photos.

Janie said...

Very imaginative way to introduce dogbane, through the great photos of seeds and beetles. Great D post!

Anonymous said...

People often ask how people, like you and I, know all of these different animals, trees, and plants. The simple answer is that we are constantly asking questions and have a drive to find the answers.

Babooshka said...

Beautiful images and it was a creative lead into dogbane.

bobbie said...

The silk is beautiful - and so is the beetle.

photowannabe said...

Well put and quite fascinating Nina. Thank You.

Sylvia K said...

What a beautiful and fascinating post! Love your photos, particularly the beatle.

Enjoy your day!

Kathiesbirds said...

Nina, once again, so beautiful in words and pictures! You are a true words smith! I love that bejeweled beetle!

Nina said...

Adrienne--From what I have read, these beetles lay their eggs in a mound of fecal matter on a leaf. From there the larvae hatch, drop to the soil, and feed on the plant's roots.
Once adults, they feed almost exclusively on Dogbane leaves.
So, it is possible that their entire life cycle is carried out within the limits of just one plant!
Dogbane was used by Native Americans to make rope as its stems are very fibrous and strong.

Science guy--Exactly! (and you "got" the gist of my rambling)
So many times, what I thought would be a simple outing becomes so much more.
And, I'm better in the long run for it!
(although I often feel I house much trivial information)

Tumblewords: said...

Wonderful post - the beetle is gemlike, surely. A delight!

Roger Owen Green said...

Lovely photos.

Grace and Bradley said...

I love your photos. Even when we were at home on Cape Cod with much more natural environment, I have not been able to create pictures with kind of mood of yours. Thanks for sharing.

Robin said...

'Clicking to enlarge' has never paid off so well. Beautiful. Thank you.

sweet bay said...

Beautiful post! I love the beetle photos, especially the first one.

jay said...

Oooooh, I LOVE the little Dogbane Beetle! So beautiful!

Julie Zickefoose said...

Ah, the beetle's name leads you to the plant's name? Lovely. I have yet to get a photo of a dogbane beetle that rivals yours. I try and try. I think your hand is steadier.