Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

mistflower, boneset, snakeroot

with 14 comments

Ageratina havanensis; click for greater detail and sharpness.

Say three for the price of one, and with an extra adjective apiece, because white mistflower, shrubby boneset, and Havana snakeroot are all vernacular names for what botanists now call Ageratina havanensis. This is another 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 grows as a bush that can reach 6 ft. in height, but the one you see here was smaller, and some of its branches hung far enough down over the edge of a small cliff in northwest Austin that I could photograph their pink-tinged flowers and buds even though I lacked for light in the shade of the late afternoon. It was October 31, and a good ending to the month.

In the United States Ageratina havanensis apparently grows only in Texas, with Austin being on the far eastern edge of its range; at least that’s what the USDA map shows. The species name havanensis implies that this plant was first identified in Cuba, and it grows natively in Mexico as well, so this is one of those cases where Texas provides the northernmost habitat for a tropical species.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 9, 2011 at 5:12 AM

14 Responses

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  1. Just my humble observation, but I think you can see the family line in the leaf shape. Another great capture! You keep this up and you will have everyone wanting to plant “weeds” in their gardens. 😉
    ~ Lynda


    November 9, 2011 at 6:32 AM

    • Thanks, Lynda. I’d be thrilled if I could convince more people to cultivate these beautiful “weeds.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 9, 2011 at 6:48 AM

  2. I think it is quite a charming flower. Thanks for sharing it with us.


    November 9, 2011 at 9:03 PM

  3. Very different from our New England Boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum! Yet, just a beautiful. Georgeous shot, Steve.


    November 10, 2011 at 8:04 AM

    • Thanks. This species used to be called Eupatorium havanense, but as you point, even among species of the same genus there can be a lot of difference.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 10, 2011 at 8:48 AM

  4. We had one of these appear last year near our bird feeder, and though stunted this year due to heat and lack of rain, it is still lovely.


    November 10, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    • It’s good that yours survived the drought, Sue, even if it’s stunted. We have a few little ones that Eve planted near the curb a few years ago; they never have gotten very big, but they’ve hung on and flowered each autumn. One of them is blossoming now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 10, 2011 at 10:21 AM

  5. I remember someone years ago planting several dozen of these – a great underutilized shrub. The common Agertina that grows throughout the Midwest is far weedier than havanensis, but for 2 weeks in October it manages to bloom as nicely as your photo shows.


    November 13, 2011 at 8:54 PM

    • Like you, I’d be happy if more people planted this. I’ve been fascinated by its pink bundles of buds for years, going back to a time when I photographed some of them on Mt. Bonnell. I’m sorry the species you have in Missouri is weedier, but glad that it masquerades for a couple of weeks in October as its more stately relative.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2011 at 9:01 PM

  6. […] last (and only) picture of Ageratina havanensis that you saw in this column showed the flowers and buds of a white mistflower bush I photographed in the shade of a cliff on the afternoon of October 31. Since that time, and at […]

  7. […] saw four days ago had noticeable tinges of pink from still-unopened buds, but since you saw that in a photograph taken on October 31, today I’ve chosen to show a view mostly lacking that bit of color: this is quite a different […]

  8. […] odorata, is a member of the same botanical family as sunflowers, asters, thistles, tatalencho, mistflowers, and Mexican devilweed. Many of the insect-pollinated plants in this huge group share a trait: […]

  9. […] And if you’d like a reminder of what one of these plants looks like when it’s fresh and flowering, you can click here. […]

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