Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Renaissance in yellow

with 12 comments

In mid-September I showed a couple of early photographs of the Maximilian sunflower, Helianthus maximiliani, a species that begins blooming in late summer and continues well into the fall. In mid-October you saw a stately row of them. By last week I thought these sunflowers had pretty much played themselves out for the year, but apparently Austin’s little bit of recent rain was enough to cause a resurgence, because as Eve and I drove through far north Austin on the way to the home of some friends on Thanksgiving day, we were surprised—and happy—to see lots of new Maximilian sunflower plants springing up and flowering by the side of the road. Yesterday I went back with my camera and took pictures of those rising suns, a couple of which you now get to see as well.

When I got close to the sunflowers, I noticed that quite a few of them (though not yet those shown here) had little holes eaten out of their yellow rays, and eventually I found the likely culprits, of which you again get to see one. It’s a spotted cucumber beetle, Diabrotica undecimpunctata, whose species name tells us that this insect has one (un) plus ten (decim), which is to say eleven, spots on it.

As for Helianthus maximiliani, whose legions are numberless, it has been found growing in at least some parts of most American states and Canadian provinces. For more information, you can consult the USDA website.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 26, 2011 at 5:15 AM

12 Responses

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  1. I like the juxtaposition of the beetle’s spots to the seeds in the sunflower–about the same size and a mirroring of life, Sally


    November 26, 2011 at 5:17 PM

    • Thanks for that comparison, which hadn’t occurred to me. I’m fascinated by the way people sometimes see (and in your case mention) things I never noticed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 26, 2011 at 5:27 PM

  2. It was a thanksgiving treat to find these flowers. Pretty little bug too.


    November 26, 2011 at 7:25 PM

  3. Great capture of the beetle on the sunflower! Nature at its best for sure! Cheers!


    November 26, 2011 at 8:24 PM

  4. Gorgeous!


    November 27, 2011 at 12:07 AM

  5. wonderful flower photo, very nice colors and details well done!


    December 4, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    • Thank you. Although you’ve certainly seen the regular sunflower (Helianthus annuus) in Holland, this may be your first encounter with the Maximilian sunflower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 19, 2011 at 5:30 AM

  6. […] still alive but was even managing to display rays of bright yellow on January 3. It may not be as attractive as a Maximilian sunflower can be, but I was impressed by the fact that it existed at all in January. You may take it as an emblem of […]

  7. […] latest of our early visitors this year is the Maximilian sunflower, Helianthus maximiliani. This species normally flowers in Austin beginning in late August or […]

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