Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Lovely Rita, meter maid

with 31 comments

Click for greater clarity.

Well no, I didn’t see any meter maids or even any parking meters when I was photographing on February 9 at the edge of an undeveloped piece of land in northwest Austin (the same place that brought you yesterday’s white anemone). But a lovely ‘Rita I did see, and it was agarita, Mahonia trifoliolata, whose tiny reddish-orange buds, only about a quarter of an inch in size, were opening into scented yellow flowers. Notice how the lobes of the shrub’s stiff, holly-like, tripartite leaves taper to a point; they make the same point as the spines and glochids of the prickly pear: approach at your own risk.

For more information about agarita you can point yourself toward the website of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 15, 2012 at 5:25 AM

31 Responses

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  1. Such a cheery flower!


    February 15, 2012 at 5:59 AM

  2. Once again you bring the world into focus!

    Bonnie Michelle

    February 15, 2012 at 6:16 AM

    • These fiery colors remind me that the Latin word focus meant ‘hearth.’

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 15, 2012 at 7:09 AM

      • Hearth as in fireplace? So it is as though you are looking at glowing embers? I still say you bring my world into visual focus!

        Bonnie Michelle

        February 15, 2012 at 7:24 AM

      • Yes, hearth as in fireplace, which was where people gathered in ancient times (and even now) to stay warm. From that notion of getting in close to something comes our current sense of the word. So today I’ve focused on language as well as nature.

        Steve Schwartzman

        February 15, 2012 at 7:44 AM

  3. What a lovely surprise. I love that you point us to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.


    February 15, 2012 at 7:35 AM

  4. What a pretty surprise this morning.. Stunning!! And it did cheer me up I have to say!! Thank you!!

    Just A Smidgen

    February 15, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    • You and Georgette before you had the same reaction, though I’m not sure it was about the same aspect of this morning’s post. Happy surprise, in any case, and I’m glad it cheered you up.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 15, 2012 at 12:41 PM

      • Haha.. mine was definitely the flower.. everything here is either brown.. grey and, on occasion, white…

        Just A Smidgen

        February 15, 2012 at 6:54 PM

      • Hardly surprising for Calgary in February. Here in Austin, wildflowers are beginning to pop up in various places, as you know from this blog.

        Steve Schwartzman

        February 15, 2012 at 7:04 PM

  5. Beautiful colors. Loved this pic! 🙂


    February 15, 2012 at 9:12 AM

  6. It’s very lovely. Thank you! Agaritas are edible – well the berries are. They make a bright red jelly. Birds like those berries too.

    I just like the plant.


    February 15, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    • Yes, I’ve had agarita jelly made by a friend in the Hill Country. Picking the berries can be quite a chore, given all the spines on the leaves. Birds have an easier time of it than people do.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 15, 2012 at 12:44 PM

  7. How pretty! The individual blossoms remind me of those of the Oregon Grape that we have here.


    February 15, 2012 at 9:55 PM

    • I can see why: I just looked up Oregon grape and found that it’s Mahonia aquifolium, another species in the same genus as agarita.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 15, 2012 at 10:03 PM

  8. […] Okay, in spite of the dark brown background this wasn’t exactly the middle of the forest—it was the roadside edge of a wooded lot adjacent to a hotel and across from the Gateway shopping center in northwest Austin—but what is poetic license for if I can’t drive with it now? And what I’m driving at in this post is Phacelia congesta, known colloquially as blue curls. At the budding stage shown here you see the curls but not yet the blue. It’s coming. (And what’s already come from this location is the picture of the white anemone and the one of the agarita flowers.) […]

  9. The Agarita at the back of my property is in full bloom. How do I know without walking out to check? The most heavenly scent of honey!!! Blooming right on time this year. Looking forward to sharing the fruit with the birds a bit later this spring.

    Agnes Plutino

    February 16, 2012 at 7:43 AM

    • And from the portion that you don’t share with the birds, are you planning to make any jelly?

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 16, 2012 at 7:47 AM

  10. These are beautiful. The blossom form reminds me of quince, however, the leaves say otherwise. Then again, quince was once used as a barrier or natural fence, because of its spines along the branches.
    ~ Lynda


    February 16, 2012 at 7:49 AM

    • Thanks for that information about quince. I know that in Mexico people have traditionally planted cacti and other spiny plants close together to make fences, but I don’t know if agarita has been used that way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 16, 2012 at 8:11 AM

  11. You have such an amazing variety of plant species to photograph and enjoy!!! It is always a treat to see what you will post next!!!


    February 16, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    • As Al Jolson said in The Jazz Singer, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” You’re right that Texas does have a lot of plant species—the better for me to play with.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 16, 2012 at 9:03 AM

  12. […] in my other blog I showed a photograph of some blossoming agarita, a shrub whose name English has taken straight from Spanish. Although the steps in the etymology […]

  13. It’s a beautiful flower, with its own vivid face : )


    February 17, 2012 at 6:47 AM

  14. Gorgeous shot of our lovely lady, “Rita”. Thanks for dropping by When I Ride and liking my post on her. Fellow plant lovers…

    Lissa Rabon

    February 26, 2012 at 5:11 PM

  15. […] photograph from February 23 gives you a second and closer look at the agarita plant whose flowers appeared in these pages on February 15. And speaking of closer looks, if you click the icon below you’ll get a larger […]

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