Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Blue mistflower

with 12 comments

Conoclinium coelestinum; click for greater detail.

As I walked through a completely dry Bull Creek on October 6, I couldn’t help noticing how many fall flowers had sprung up there, some of them apparently drawing on residual moisture in the creek bed where water hadn’t flowed for months. In addition to the goldeneye I’ve already reported on, another native species I’ve found flourishing in the creek bed and in the adjacent woods is Conoclinium coelestinum, called blue mistflower, though it’s clear from the picture that the correct color is violet or purple rather than blue.

What I like in the conglomerate of flowers shown here is the many stages of blossoming that are present at the same time: buds barely born that are still a greenish-white; buds that have advanced to pale violet and then to a more saturated violet; buds that are beginning to open into flowers; flowers that are fully open and have taken on their “misty” look; and in the center, flowers that have gone well past their prime, have turned brown, and are already beginning to dry out.

Because this is a fall-flowering species, its flowers often appear above the fallen and drying leaves of nearby trees; such leaves account for the orange and brown at the bottom of this downward-looking picture.

For more information about Conoclinium coelestinum, including a zoomable map that shows the many places in the eastern United States where this wildflower grows, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 21, 2011 at 5:34 AM

12 Responses

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  1. Nice!


    October 21, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    • Thanks, Eden. For whatever reason, this fall I’ve seen this wildflower more often than ever before. Now I feel like I know it, where in the past I didn’t really.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 21, 2011 at 3:20 PM

  2. That is a really pretty flower. I love blue flowers. It looks like it grows in Michigan, but I have never seen it.


    October 21, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    • If you go to the USDA map, as I think you did, you can click on Michigan to get a detailed map showing which Michigan counties this species has been found in. There are only a couple of counties, and I don’t know how close they are to where you are. But I’ve also discovered that not all counties where a species grows have been marked in these maps, so Conoclinium coelestinum might still grow in your area. Good luck in finding it one of these days.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 21, 2011 at 9:03 PM

  3. Pretty! It’s interesting to see the flowers after such a long, dry, hot summer!


    October 21, 2011 at 9:18 PM

    • Yes, some species seem not to have been affected by the drought at all. In fact I’ve seen more of these mistflowers this year than I recall ever noticing before. The drought here continues, and today the high temperature was in the upper 80s, but a cold front is supposedly due to arrive in a few days.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 21, 2011 at 10:03 PM

  4. I love these flowers! I have admired them in the ditchbanks and and pastures all over Alabama, but never found them in my yard. Then the tornado swarm this spring brought them to me! They are everywhere and in just the right spots where I couldn’t get anything else to grow!

    I am pretty certain, but not 100 percent sure, that the garden flower Ageratum must have come from this plant. I tried looking it up, but could not find anything that supports my thoughts… What say you? 🙂


    October 22, 2011 at 7:46 AM

    • I’ll have to admit that I wasn’t familiar with the garden flower Ageratum (though I’ve now looked it up), but I am familiar with a native flower here in the genus Ageratina. Both Ageratina and Coelestinum used to be classified in the genus Eupatorium. All these genera produce “misty” flower heads, and all belong to the same tribe (subfamily) in the sunflower family, the Eupatorieae. You can read about that tribe at


      I’m happy that you have plenty of these flowers in your yard now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 22, 2011 at 7:56 AM

  5. […] member of the sunflower family that, like the climbing hempvine of the last two posts and the blue mistflower shown a few weeks ago, has flowers that don’t look sunflowerish. Ageratina havanensis often […]

  6. […] post, let me add that people have given various plants in the genera Eupatorium, Ageratina, and Conoclinium the common name […]

  7. beautiful click – i came here via Nandini’s blog 🙂 thanks for sharing.

    pix & kardz

    May 7, 2016 at 10:39 PM

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