Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Skeleton-plant flower base

with 13 comments

Lygodesmia texana: click to enlarge.

You are looking at the base—and an architectural one it is—of a flower head of Lygodesmia texana. This member of the sunflower family is often called the skeleton-plant because its slender and rising stem lacks obvious leaves. What the two little spheres on the leftmost green bract are, I don’t know. I do know that I made this photograph at Austin’s Elisabet Ney Museum, whose grounds are being restored to a native prairie, and that the brown in the background is a token of all the vegetation parched by the continuing drought. I also know that in the next post you’ll find out what a skeleton-plant flower head looks like when seen from above.

For more information about Lygodesmia texana, including a clickable map showing the states in the United States where this species grows, you can visit the USDA websiste. For more information about the approaches that went into the making of this photograph, see points 1, 2, 4, 5, and 14 in About My Techniques.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 27, 2011 at 5:42 AM

13 Responses

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  1. I especially enjoy your images that capture what is easily overlooked. Beautiful flower base.


    September 27, 2011 at 7:32 AM

  2. Wow – that looks amazing. I love your work Steve. It has shown me beauty I never knew.

    Claire Takacs

    September 27, 2011 at 3:38 PM

  3. Nicely abstract. I like the background, at first I thought you might have used a sheet of paper or something.


    September 28, 2011 at 12:51 AM

    • You’re not the first person who has thought that some of my mostly neutral backgrounds are artificial, but as you saw in “About My Techniques,” they’re natural, as befits nature photography. IN any case, I’m glad you find this a nice abstract.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 28, 2011 at 6:59 AM

  4. […] yesterday’s photograph presented a horizontal, external view of the architectural base of a flower head of Lygodesmia texana, today’s photograph looks at the center of the flower head from above. This member of the […]

  5. […] the skeleton-plant is erect and slender, so is scarlet spiderling, Boerhavia coccinea, which I’ve seen flowering […]

  6. Obviously this is one great abstract shot (as I see)! I wonder how you get the names of these wild flowers!


    October 1, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    • Glad you like abstraction, which is something I’m quite fond of. As for the names of the wildflowers, there are some excellent field guides available for Texas (whose names you can see in Books About Texas Plants in the column on the right side of the page). Even after 12 years, there’s lots more to learn.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 1, 2011 at 3:42 PM

  7. I love how you are careful to highlight more than a normal flower photo. This is great – I really enjoyed it as well as your other posts.

    I agree with firarz above – that’s a lot of work to identify these plants. I don’t have that kind of patience on my own blog.



    October 1, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    • Thanks, Nancy. I began by taking normal flower photos, and those are still good for purposes of identification, but before long I found myself veering into abstraction and other non-straightforward approaches. Because I’ve been at this for over a decade, I can recognize a couple of hundred of the most common species, but I always look forward to identifying native species that are new to me. The latest one was just a few days ago, and eventually it’ll make its way into this blog.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 1, 2011 at 7:49 PM

  8. […] so if you aren’t familiar with it you’re welcome to look back at abstract views showing the base of a flower head and a close-up from above of a flower head’s center; that second image will show you the […]

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