Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

More spring in January

with 21 comments

When I visited the Mueller Greenway on January 27th I found more than Engelmann daisies coming to life: I was also happily surprised to come across a coreopsis plant fully three feet tall with plenty of buds and flowers on it already. The bloom period for this species, Coreopsis tinctoria, doesn’t normally begin until April, so it was another instance of spring coming in January this year. The photograph above is a closeup of one of the plant’s torch-like buds as it’s beginning to open; shades of the red and bright yellow already prominent at this stage will continue on into the fully developed flowers. The tiny white flecks on the red bracts that you see here are common on coreopsis buds, but I don’t know what they are.

For those of you who are interested in the craft of photography, points 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, and 14 in About My Techniques are relevant to today’s image.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 30, 2012 at 5:11 AM

21 Responses

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  1. This is beautiful! Loved the color combination (yet, again!) 😉 And the information you have provided is good too. Cheers to the early hints of the Spring! I am experiencing that too. 🙂


    January 30, 2012 at 5:14 AM

  2. Simply amazing. . .

    Bonnie Michelle

    January 30, 2012 at 7:23 AM

    • Thanks, Bonnie. Another native species from the sunflower family has begun appearing too, but so far I’ve seen it only along a busy expressway—not a good place for photographs or photographers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 30, 2012 at 9:13 AM

  3. I have many coreopsis in my perennial garden. There are about 120 different varieties available, though most are annuals, as is this one you’ve so beautifully photographed for us.

    Here is more about it on a gardening website ‘verschoorperennials’ which speaks of a breeder named Darrell: ” . . . The nursery of Darrell may be found in the middle of a wood . . . in Hubbardston, Massachusetts. It is on this place where he is so succesfull in breeding Coreopsis.”

    “It was 8 years ago when Darrell started his Coreopsis breeding program. Though a wide range of varieties was available in practically all the species, he was not satisfied with the colour range….yellow; soft yellow; lemon yellow; orange yellow, sometimes having a red centre or brown flecks, but what about real pink real purple; real bright red; real orange; bi-colours and so on!! Darrel began to cross- breed 8 different species, the annual Coreopsis tinctoria included. Tinctoria derives from the Latin word tinctor…tingére which means painting; painter; used by painters; used as a paint. The use of Coreopsis tinctoria was logical for getting new colours. A famous English horticultural journalist wrote: 25 Coropsis varieties from the cross-polinating paintbrush of Darrell Probst will be offered the years to come!! And so it is. All the new varieties look if each individual variety has been painted by an artist.”

    “But how to get hardy plants if the annual Coreopsis tinctoria is breed in. Darrell of course also has asked himself this question. The fact is that Coreopsis already flowers the first year from seed, so, the best way was to let the plants hibernate in the open field. Only the strong(er) plants will survive. . . . ”

    Interesting. He must have the patience of a Gregor Mendel.
    Didn’t mean to go on and on like this, but maybe it adds something to the posting of this beauty.


    January 30, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    • Thanks, Lance, for all the information about coreopsis. There certainly are a lot of species of it, aren’t there? I’m familiar only with the few that grow wild here in central Texas.

      Yes, tinctoria is from the Latin verb tingere, which meant originally ‘to wet, to moisten’ and later ‘to dye.’That’s ultimately the source of our words tinge, tincture and tint. But back to botany: I’ll have a picture of Coreopsis tinctoria flowers tomorrow.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 30, 2012 at 9:20 AM

  4. This is stunning Steve! Wow Coreopsis three feet tall…guess I have to get out more! I had no idea there are so many varieties…I am used to the few that are seen in garden centers.


    January 30, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    • Marshall Enquist notes in Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country that this species and the similar C. basalis “given moisture, rich soil, and the protection of partial shade, will reach a height of 3–4′ Otherwise they will average about 1–1½’ high.” I more often see plants closer to the short end of the range, especially during a drought, but we’ve had intermittent rain and pleasant temperatures lately, and the soil is apparently rich enough to have nurtured as tall a plant as the one I found.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 30, 2012 at 10:59 AM

  5. Lovely.

    Susan Scheid

    January 30, 2012 at 5:16 PM

  6. Thanks, Susan. I’m afraid you won’t see the likes of this in New York for some time yet.

    Steve Schwartzman

    January 30, 2012 at 6:08 PM

  7. […] tinctoria plant fully three feet tall with plenty of buds and flowers on it already. To yesterday’s closeup of a coreopsis bud let me add this picture of a nearby part of the same plant so you can see what the buds open up […]

  8. What an exquisite bud! When seen so enlarged, it seems almost lotus-like to me, almost as though it should be rising up from some exotic pond, with those beautifully striated covers (sepals?) embracing the buttery yellow inner petals. Coreopsis is certainly another numerous and varied family, from what little I have seen!


    January 31, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    • Glad you caught my excitement about this bud, which was actually tiny, maybe a third of an inch long. I believe the striated covers are phyllaries, the name given to the bracts surrounding flower heads in the sunflower family. Like you, I was entranced by the red-yellow striations and the “buttery” center.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2012 at 10:48 PM

  9. I’m especially fond of your photos that tend to be more structural. Whether that’s the right word, I don’t know, but I love the clean lines of almost-flowering and the equally clean lines of giving-it-up-for-the-season.

    I think a photo like this emphasizes the inherent strength of most wildflowers. They’re pretty, and frilly and all that – but they’re tough, too.


    February 1, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    • Structural seems to me like a good word for it. I photographed a particularly structural species of flower this morning and will show it tomorrow; it’ll be pretty and frilly as well.

      I also like your phrases almost-flowering and giving-it-up-for-the-season. Yes, these wildflowers are tough, given what they have to endure in our often inhospitable land.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 1, 2012 at 5:26 PM

  10. It’s a good macro photography !


    January 11, 2013 at 2:42 PM

  11. I love this!!


    January 26, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    • That “winter without a winter” brought a bunch of surprises, including this one. Glad you like it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2014 at 11:24 AM

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