Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A verve for vervain

with 36 comments

You recently saw a large and dense colony of flowering prairie verbenas. The French word for verbena is verveine, which English has borrowed as vervain; I mention that because today’s picture shows a wildflower known as Texas vervain and slender vervain, Verbena halei. The species is quite common in central Texas, and the plant’s stalks really are slender. The overall effect makes me imagine a delicate floral candelabra, and in this case there’s the addition of several types of wildflowers in the background. Today’s picture is yet another of the many I took on our 294-mile wildflower tour south of Austin on March 31.

To see a state-clickable map of the places across the southern United States where this species grows, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 7, 2012 at 5:40 AM

36 Responses

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  1. What a pretty photo.

  2. This is brilliant! Loved the foreground and the background equally. A very pretty treat for my eyes. 🙂

    Nandini

    April 7, 2012 at 5:52 AM

  3. Beautiful!! Does it have the same medicinal properties as the other vervains?

    FeyGirl

    April 7, 2012 at 8:02 AM

    • I’m afraid I don’t know. The Philippine website stuartxchange.com says it’s “anticontusive, antifebrile, anti-infectious, diuretic. Eases out lymphatic circulation.” The website Dave’s World claims that “Texas vervain is regarded as a medicinal herb and a potent charm against witches one may encounter.” Hmmm. I didn’t find a scientific website that I would trust.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2012 at 8:15 AM

      • I’m gonna say YES to that one; probably a medicinal herb for sure (being a vervain)… But I don’t know about the charm effects. Very nifty!

        FeyGirl

        April 7, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    • It seems to be pretty effective, because I’ve never noticed any witches hanging out near it. Along the lines of dogbane and fleabane, maybe we should rename it witchbane.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2012 at 12:46 PM

      • Hah! They may just look like they’re picking flowers.

        Witchbane’s taken I think. I’ve heard Rowan called by many nicknames, and that’s one of them. Apparently there’s a lot of flora to protect one against witches (who are also using same said flora). 🙂

        FeyGirl

        April 7, 2012 at 6:15 PM

  4. Gorgeous.. I am so glad to see this while having my morning coffee! You are so much ahead of us and this gives such a feeling of spring!!

    Just A Smidgen

    April 7, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    • I expect you’ll catch up soon now in Calgary. In Austin this year spring began at the end of January!

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2012 at 8:18 AM

  5. Man, I love your flower images! This one is a stunner indeed. Happy Easter, Steve.

    Cindy Kilpatrick

    April 7, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    • I’m pleased to see you so enthusiastic, Cindy. I’ll have another wildflower meadow for you for Easter.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2012 at 3:04 PM

  6. Great photo! The colorful background really complements it and makes it pop!

    Michael Glover

    April 7, 2012 at 4:42 PM

  7. This one’s beautiful. It’s reminiscent of one I found today, carrying the delightful name of “Texas Toad-Flax”!

    I’ve spent most of the day finding and then enjoying Nash Prairie. Do you know of it? I’ll be putting a post up with some of the history, and my (much poorer) photos of flowers I found there, including four I can’t find on your site. You no doubt know them and have photos of them, but it tickled me to think I might have some surprises.

    How things can hide in plain sight is beyond me. I even had a map and couldn’t find the place. Line of the day: “Pass by the goat and keep a-goin’. If you get to the substation, you’ve gone too far.”

    shoreacres

    April 7, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    • Yes, it is slender, like toad-flax, which I coincidentally photographed yesterday. While we’re on the subject of amphibians, buttercups are in the genus Ranunculus, which is Latin for ‘little frog’; what these species of wildflowers have to do with toads and frogs escapes me. (Today I saw a caterpillar on a toadstool.)

      I’ve heard about the Nash Prairie but you’re more fortunate than I in having been there (even if finding it was daunting). I’ll look forward to reading your account of the place. I may or may not recognize your unknowns, because there are so many species near the coast that don’t grow in Austin, but we’ll see. Yesterday I was only half an hour east of Austin, but that was far enough to find some species I wasn’t familiar with.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2012 at 9:57 PM

  8. Again, Steven, the colorful backdrop is very complementary.

    Sheila T Illustrated

    April 7, 2012 at 10:50 PM

  9. Terrific DOF! The bokeh looks like an underpainting! 🙂

    avian101

    April 8, 2012 at 12:37 PM

  10. A beautiful image Steve and I love the depth of field you chose!

    dhphotosite

    April 8, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    • It was a small enough aperture to keep the stalks of the vervain in focus, but a large enough aperture to blur the wildflowers in the background.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 8, 2012 at 2:11 PM

  11. Beautiful colours — a lovely image.

    Mufidah Kassalias

    April 8, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    • Yes, we have colors aplenty here these days. I’m happy for you to see some of them in these pages.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 8, 2012 at 10:00 PM

  12. Alors voilà donc à quoi ressemblent mes tisanes à l’état sauvage? 🙂 Magnifique!

    Neurobancal

    April 8, 2012 at 11:38 PM

  13. Nice flowers and nice colored bokeh. In 1 word : great photo !

    lemarcal

    April 9, 2012 at 3:42 PM

  14. ‘Slender’ indeed! So delicate it seems spun by a magical spider. Lovely.

    kathryningrid

    April 9, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    • This species grows in your northern part of Texas, too, so I expect you’ll see some slender vervain now that you’re aware of it (or perhaps you were already aware of it).

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 9, 2012 at 5:10 PM

  15. Love all the soft pastel colors blurred in the background of this beautiful photo!

    Peggy A Thompson

    April 9, 2012 at 10:38 PM

    • Thanks, Peggy. In retrospect, I wish I’d been able to blur the background even more. I have a picture coming up tomorrow in which I managed to reduce the background to a colorful glow with almost no detail.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 9, 2012 at 10:48 PM


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