Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Still stately

with 16 comments

Though it’s been a while since there have been any traces of green or yellow in the Maximilian sunflowers that you first saw flourishing on the restored prairie at Austin’s former Mueller Airport in early September, as the year wound down in late December I found that the remains of the erect plants in that location were still stately. I’ve long been intrigued by the scraggly shapes and toned-down colors of plants that have dried out, so from time to time some of them will appear here to keep the fresh and bright ones company.

For more information about Helianthus maximiliani, including a state-clickable map showing the many places in the United States and Canada where you may find these wildflowers still standing stately, you can go to the USDA website. For those of you who are interested in the craft of photography, points 1, 3 and 8 in About My Techniques are relevant to today’s photograph.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 8, 2012 at 5:08 AM

16 Responses

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  1. Beautiful twisted shapes


    January 8, 2012 at 5:16 AM

  2. Another magnificent find.

    Bonnie Michelle

    January 8, 2012 at 8:00 AM

  3. Seed heads! I love seed heads. Here, Prairie Dock leaves twist as they dry, creating really cool plant sculpture.


    January 8, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    • I like your phrase “plant sculpture.” If there were a way to preserve and protect them, I wonder if art galleries would start exhibiting them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2012 at 1:24 PM

  4. I would even go so far as to call these statuesque–they’re certainly sculptural and rather evocative of some sort of human or creature form!


    January 8, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    • Your comment accords with Melissa’s, in which she referred to plant sculpture. And Mr. Etymologist (c’est moi) can’t resist pointing out that stately and statuesque both ultimately come from the Latin root that meant the same as the native English cognate stand.

      The second part of your comment accords with my imagination: in this sunflower I can almost see a tall, slender person standing with arms stretched out and downward.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2012 at 2:34 PM

  5. Looks like a metallic sculpture. Nice.


    January 8, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    • Thanks for adding another take on this; I’d never thought of it as metallic, but now that you’ve said it I can see it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2012 at 4:59 PM

  6. I see two arms reaching out to the viewer – it really is an active image for a “dead” plant.


    January 8, 2012 at 7:13 PM

  7. Sunflowers are lovely no matter what stage they are in.


    January 8, 2012 at 8:01 PM

    • Hey, I’m with you on that. Sunflowers—primarily the “common” sunflower but also the Maximilian—have appeared more often in my blog than any other type of wildflower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2012 at 8:37 PM

  8. Very cool Steve!!!


    January 9, 2012 at 8:17 AM

    • Thanks, David. Here in central Texas we have two seasons that are especially good for pictures like this: the furnace-like summer and then the winter. But many plants here dry out and linger that way for months or even into the next year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 9, 2012 at 10:37 AM

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