Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Early spring to early winter

with 9 comments

Tetraneuris scaposa; click for greater clarity.

Happy official beginning of winter, even if those of you in northern regions laugh at a greeting that should have come a month or two ago as measured by your weather and not my calendar.

I went out photographing in northwest Austin on December 20, and while the skies have been mostly overcast for two weeks and the land here is beginning to take on its subdued winter look, I still managed to find a few wildflowers: several fresh new goldenrods; some scattered little broomweeds looking rather the worse for wear; a sadly bedraggled aster; and exactly one of what you see here, Tetraneuris scaposa, a small member of the sunflower family that’s quite common in the Texas Hill Country and is known as four-nerve daisy. The little daisy that I found two days ago was in great shape but not in a great place to photograph, so I’ve used an image from the November 14 session that also produced pictures of flameleaf sumac turning colors. This is what a four-nerve daisy flower head looks like when it’s part-way open, before the stage when all its yellow rays point outward rather than upward. Note the pale green “nerves” in the yellow rays that give this daisy its common name. Also notice how soft and fuzzy the green bracts are that surround the yellow rays.

Some species of plants bloom in the spring and only in the spring. Others bloom primarily in the spring but can often be found flowering to a lesser degree in the fall as well, and that second group includes our four-nerve daisy, which in 2011 has survived a couple of frosts and made it all the way to the official beginning of winter. For more information on Tetraneuris scaposa, you can visit the USDA website, which includes a state-clickable map showing where this species grows.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 22, 2011 at 5:14 AM

9 Responses

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  1. You keep bringing us relatives of Sunflower, so officially, how many members of the Sunflower family are there? I like this ‘nervy’ little flower. I find its green lines festive. BTW, Will there be more on this cutie, or do I have to ask you now about how small it really is? Thanks, Lynda


    December 22, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    • You ask a good question, Lynda. The plant list for my county in central Texas includes about 180 species in the sunflower family (though some of those aren’t native, e.g. dandelions). I’m not planning an immediate sequel to the four-nerve daisy, so I’ll answer your second question and say that an open flower head is about an inch across. Once the bleak times in January and February get here, I’ll go back and fill in some of the gaps, like a bud of a four-nerve daisy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 22, 2011 at 2:11 PM

  2. Despite my best google-efforts and a short refresher course in flower anatomy, I can’t figure out those “nerves” you mention. Are they functional, or purely decorative? I noticed the quotation marks – is there another term for them?

    It is a little bit of sunshine, isn’t it? I especially like the fuzziness of the bracts. They remind me of toys from long, long ago that had that funny, fuzzy covering.


    December 22, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    • I have to confess ignorance on this one; the next time I’m in the company of a botanist I’ll ask, because I’d like to know too. I’ll agree with you on the sunshiny part, and I’m equally fond of the fuzziness, especially when looked at closely (in the spring I expect I’ll post a good picture of that). Can you tell us more about the toys from long ago that had a funny, fuzzy covering?

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 22, 2011 at 7:10 PM

  3. This is my favorite native, it is hardy, self seeding, and tough as they get. I have seen it blooming almost all of the year including Jan and Feb with ice hanging from its petals. The only time that the flowers seem to wane is during the hottest time of the year. We recommend folks plant this in that little space between a sidewalk and the curb, where very few plants survive. Planted in road base or granite gravel and full sun, it is great, oh and make sure and do not water once established. It hates to be pampered.


    December 23, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    • It’s good to know someone else is as fond of this little daisy as I am (and I’m including the similar T. linearifolia, which I find just as often in Austin). As you pointed out, it thrives in all sorts of seemingly difficult places and manages to flower for most of the year. I’ll keep my eyes open for one encased in ice if we get one of our rare winter ice storms this season.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 23, 2011 at 1:53 PM

  4. […] looking like a daisy.* This is also one of those local members of the sunflower family, like the four-nerve daisy, that’s covered with down, as you see here. You’re also seeing the typical nodding […]

  5. […] in the fall you saw a photograph of a four-nerve daisy bud as it was beginning to open. That picture showed Tetraneuris scaposa, one of two similar species […]

  6. […] A Tetraneuris scaposa bud opening on February 15 in northwest Austin: this is a minimalist and more sinuous take than the one you saw last fall. […]

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