Shimmering Sida

Arrowleaf Sida ~ Sida rhombifolia

Several species of Sida, commonly known as ‘fanpetals,’ occur across Texas. Their flowers, about an inch in diameter, could be mistaken for those of a tiny hibiscus; the resemblance points to their membership in the Malvaceae, or mallow family. The Acadian French name for this species, Gombo de Ste. Jeanne, or St. Jeanne’s Gombo, probably alludes to those hibiscus-like flowers, since they resemble blooms of the okra used in gumbos.

A larval host for the Tropical Checkered Skipper (Pyrgus oileus), the plant is easily found along roads and pasture fencelines, as well as in low open woodlands and disturbed ground. Tolerant of droughty conditions, its silky, somewhat reflective petals shimmer in strong summer sunlight, catching the eye despite their small size.

Comments always are welcome.

43 thoughts on “Shimmering Sida

    1. I think they’re cute as can be, despite so many sites referring to them as ‘weeds.’ They certainly seem willing to keep blooming in this heat; they open later in the day, or in bright sunshine. I read that another species, Sida fallax, is the official flower of Oahu; it’s native to Hawaii, and is used for making leis.

  1. It certainly does look like a hibiscus. What a beauty of a flower! And how wonderful that they are found along roads and fencelines. Somehow, they seem too delicate and pretty to just be growing wild.

    1. They’re one of those plants that prefers disturbed land, like sunflowers and asters. I often find them on roadsides, or even in the middle of less traveled dirt or gravel roads. They do appear dainty and delicate, but another common name for them is ‘wireweed’ — apparently they resist being uprooted.

    1. That’s why I added the detail about their size in the text. I still have to remind myself that as wonderful as a macro lens can be, there are times when the way it represents reality isn’t at all to scale!

        1. Of course, but I’ve never been inclined to add such to a photo — although I suppose I could have tossed in a nickel. That’s about the right size.

    1. Did you have one (or more) of those folding fans when you were a kid? or older? I always loved them, and the flower reminds me of them. Speaking of fans, while some ladies did china painting when I was a kid, others painted folding fans. That had to be a challenge — far more so than painting the fans they used to pass out at church or at funeral services!

    1. Your comment stopped me for a minute. I took this photo rather late in the morning, at 11:20 a.m. There wasn’t any dew by that time, and there certainly hadn’t been any rain. I looked at the original file and finally decided what you saw are sand grains. When I posted the photo of the searockets last week, some people confused the sparkly sand grains in that image with raindrops or dewdrops, too. Just as pretty!

    1. These little fanpetals come in various colors — a variety of yellows, salmon, and peach — but this is one of my favorites. They’re often the even softer yellow that reminds me of lemon chiffon pie.

    1. It’s a second flower. I spent a good bit of time trying to accomplish what you recommended in your Technique #17: “Arrange things (or be lucky!) so that there’s an echo in the background of something in the foreground.” Even though the foreground flower wasn’t quite as sharp as in some other images, I really liked the way the out-of-focus bloom combined with the primary flower.

      1. You might be able to paste a sharp part of the main flower from one of the other pictures on top of the corresponding less sharp part of the flower in the picture whose background flower you like.

        1. I saw that tip, too. I’m not sure it would work in this case, since my other photos were taken from different perspectives, but it’s a technique I need to try.

  2. Such a pretty flower! The pale shade is reminiscent of something that’s been pressed and put aside to save for posterity. Something from a bridal bouquet perhaps??

    1. A bridal bouquet, or a corsage from a prom, or a little bouquet brought to a mother by her child. It’s always intrigued me that some flowers keep their color rather well, even after decades. The colors fade, but the memories linger.

    1. This is an easy flower to pass by, particularly since I usually find it in distinctly non-photogenic settings: like gravel roads. But as usual, that ‘closer look’ yields some rewards!

    1. It does look like one of our pinwheels, doesn’t it? Did you make them with wooden dowels and construction paper when yu were a kid? We did, but they weren’t nearly so lovely. On the other hand, ours did spin, and I don’t think the flower does!

  3. Seeing the arrowleaf part of the name, I immediately thought of arrowleaf balsam root, a common flower of the west, Linda, so named because of the resemblance to arrowheads of their leaves. A different, flower however. Do the leaves of the Sida have a similar resemblance? And how are you handling the heat. It sounds miserable in Texas. –Curt

    1. Depending on your imagination, they do resemble arrowheads, although we have other plants whose leaves seem more arrowhead-like to me. In fact, there’s a genus called Sagittaria, whose leaves and flowers I’ll be showing in the medium future. And if you look at the image of the saltmarsh morning glory here, you can see the same kind of leaf.

      As for the heat… I still try to follow the advice I was given by a very nice lady my first night in the Monrovia guest host. It was around 114F on the tarmac at Roberts Field when we landed about 1 a.m., and not a whole lot cooler in town. She said, “Just remember: drink only room temperature drinks, sprinkle your sheets with water, and just don’t think about the heat. It’ll be better.” When that fails me, I scroll through the most recent heat-memes, like this one. It does help to laugh!

      1. The Girl From Ipanema has always been one of my favorite songs too, Linda and I enjoyed your flowery take on it, even singing it along to the tune.

        When I arrived at Roberts field I had just spent several days of high heat and humidity in New York City. So I wasn’t nearly as shocked as I might have been.
        I’ve long practiced wetting my T-shirt and turning a fan on myself at Burning Man to keep cool when I go to bed. It really works! –Curt

        1. I don’t know why it’s never occurred to me, but of course there are multiple meanings for the name ‘burning man.’ There’s the burning of The Man, of course, but out there in the desert, there’s plenty of opportunity for burning-up men and women to learn to cope with that heat. It’s been so hot here that some of the fishing guides are filling and freezing Gatorade bottles and putting them in their live wells to keep their bait alive.

  4. What a nice buttery pastel orange. Ray Bradbury wrote a short story called “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit” — This flower could be “The Wonderful Orange Sherbet Skirt”.

    1. Orange sherbet — or perhaps one of those Dreamsicles/Creamsicles that used to be popular as pushups, and which may still be around. Bluebell puts out a combination orange sherbet/vanilla ice cream swirl in pints that comes very close to replicating the taste, and which is very nearly this color.

  5. I can certainly see why it’s known as fanpetals. I was also thinking pinwheels. They have a very fascinating shape to the petals. I believe this one is new to me. Thanks much for sharing.

    1. This species barely crosses the line into your state, but another species, Sida spinosa is widespread in your area. As so often happens, the primary differences seem to be in the leaves and the growth habits, but the same fanpetals are obvious — and just as pretty!

    1. They have quite a range of delicate colors, all in the yellow or yellow/peach range. I didn’t pay much attention to them at first, but once I got my macro lens, I realized how pretty they are.

    1. I still remember the first time I noticed one of these. It was in the middle of the road leading into the Williams Paradise Cemetery, just west of Highway 71, down by Nada. You can see a photo of the very road here. I do love a good cemetery!

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