Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Symphony in white

with 22 comments

Click for greater size and detail.

In the winter of 1861–62, James McNeill Whistler painted a now-famous portrait that he called “The White Girl” and later, more abstractly, “Symphony in White.” I’ve borrowed his second title for this picture of a very different subject, a field of white prickly poppies swaying in the breeze. The date was April 1, the place a field on FM 2342 in Burnet County.

Argemone albiflora is the only poppy native to the Austin area, where it’s a common sight in the spring. Like so many other species of wildflowers in 2012, this one has been having a good year. A panoramic view of a whole field of them blowing in the wind seemed to me appropriate for Earth Day, which is today. (And I hope you’ll agree that in this blog every day could be thought of as Earth Day.)

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 22, 2012 at 5:34 AM

22 Responses

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  1. beautiful white!

    H2O by Joanna

    April 22, 2012 at 6:07 AM

    • These are beautiful flowers indeed. I’d been on the lookout for a dense—and accessible—colony of them and finally found one on April 1.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2012 at 7:25 AM

  2. I agree 100% that every day is Earth Day here. These native poppies are a stunning example.

    Susan Scheid

    April 22, 2012 at 8:06 AM

    • I’m pleased to see you concurring, Susan. I wish you could also see this delicate flowers in person (though with due attention to all the prickles on the rest of the plant).

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2012 at 8:12 AM

  3. Poppies are my favorite flower, and white is my favorite flower color – these are perfection! And I’m quite astonished to find these growing in Texas. As I so often say when I come to your blog, “I had no idea!”

    I’ve finally had the good idea to start a log I can easily consult next spring. First entry: “April 1, FM2342, Burnet County. White Prickly Poppies.” Would I just get in the car and drive around to try and find these things? Yes, I certainly would.


    April 22, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    • A happy combination, then, of favorite and favorite. In this case I’m surprised at your surprise, because a click on Texas in the USDA map shows this species in your part of the state.

      I wouldn’t try to dissuade you from starting a log of wildflower locations, but I’ve observed that there can be huge variations in a plot of ground from one year to the next, so that a place that was fabulous one year can be blah on the same date the next year, even when nothing obvious like a drought has intervened. Of course that variability alone doesn’t stop me from going back just to see, and sometimes I find a plot excellent two or more years in a row.

      One website you and other readers in the state may find helpful is Texas Wildflower Sightings, where people report the locations of places where they’ve seen good wildflowers. I’m currently the most recent reporter, and I see that two entries ago someone reported white prickly poppies along Highway 6 between Houston and Waco. If you contact the Houston chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas, you may be able to find locations for the white prickly poppy even closer to you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2012 at 8:42 AM

  4. Indeed. Every day has always been Earth Day.


    April 22, 2012 at 8:31 AM

    • And will continue to be, at least until some of us take up residence on the moon or another planet.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2012 at 8:44 AM

  5. I do agree… every day your posts remind me how beautiful the planet’s flora is! Thanks 🙂


    April 22, 2012 at 8:43 AM

  6. Thanks, Steve, for leaving a comment at HillCountryMysteries.blogspot.com suggesting a visit to your site. Awesome photos and I love the detailed information. Adding you to the blogroll at HCM so it’s easy for folks to find you.

    Kathleen Scott

    April 22, 2012 at 8:55 AM

    • I was glad to find that you’re also promoting nature in the Texas Hill Country, Kathleen. The word Mysteries in your blog’s name is an inviting one.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2012 at 9:02 AM

  7. Every day’s Earth Day over here! Thank you for what you do. I still thoroughly enjoy your wildflower photo posts.


    April 22, 2012 at 9:15 AM

    • You’re welcome, Shannon. There’s plenty more coming your way. I’m not surprised to hear that every day is Earth Day for you, too—in your case with added emphasis on earth, as in dirt.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2012 at 9:32 AM

  8. I love poppies…and this is beautiful! 🙂

    Carol Welsh

    April 22, 2012 at 9:43 AM

  9. […] isn’t just people who are drawn to the white prickly poppy, Argemone albiflora. Here’s a spotted cucumber beetle, Diabrotica undecimpunctata, that I […]

  10. […] posts back you saw white prickly poppies, Argemone albiflora, in a large and dense colony. Then you got a close view of the outside of one of the poppy’s diaphanous petals. Now […]

  11. How lovely for Earth Day.. sweet and simple beauty!!

    Just A Smidgen

    April 23, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    • Thank you. I’m fond of this picture—and grateful to have come across a colony of white prickly poppies that I could get access to.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 23, 2012 at 10:34 AM

  12. […] the date was April 11, the place a country road in Llano County. By now you probably recognize the white prickly poppies, Argemone albiflora, and the prominent firewheels or Indian blankets, Gaillardia pulchella. The […]

  13. […] is too late for large quantities of white prickly poppies, Argemone albiflora, but there can still be stragglers, and in fact I was surprised to come upon […]

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