Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A closer look at prairie bishop’s weed

with 32 comments

Click for greater clarity.

The last post provided an expansive view of a colony of prairie bishop’s weed, Bifora americana, that had turned a field white with thousands of tiny blossoms. From that panorama it was impossible for you to get a sense of what the individual flowers look like, so today’s picture gives you the view from up close—with a friendly syrphid fly thrown in as a bonus. The tiny flowers are each about a quarter of an inch across, and you can see that they grow in a ring-like cluster. The full inflorescence is made up of a cluster of such clusters; parts of two others are visible in the background. (If you’d like an overview, literally, of the typical arrangement, you can check out a photograph of mine from 2004.)

I’ve been pleased to find prairie bishop’s weed in various places this spring, and in more than average quantities. The picture in today’s post comes from an April 17 session on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 2, 2012 at 5:40 AM

32 Responses

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  1. Lovely capture!


    May 2, 2012 at 6:58 AM

    • Thank you. Since last year I’ve been seeing these tiny flies a lot more than I used to, probably not because their number have increased but because I’ve been taking so many closeups and paying more attention.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 2, 2012 at 7:19 AM

  2. Tout en douceur et délicatesse 🙂


    May 2, 2012 at 7:22 AM

    • Merci, Val. Le mot délicatesse me rappelle les vers de Rimbaud dans “Chanson de la plus haute tour”:

      Oisive jeunesse
      À tout asservie,
      Par délicatesse
      J’ai perdu ma vie.
      Ah! que le temps vienne
      Où les cœurs s’éprennent.

      Je me suis épris des prairies, des fleurs sauvages, des petites mouches, …

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 2, 2012 at 7:31 AM

      • je te répondrai à travers Verlaine :

        Tu brilles et luis, vif astre aux rayons doux,
        Sur l’horizon noir d’une lourde tristesse.
        Par toi surtout nous plaisons au Dieu jaloux,
        Choisie, une, fleur du Bien, Délicatesse !


        May 2, 2012 at 7:53 AM

      • Il s’agit dans cette prairie de “Musique pour l’âme et parfum pour l’esprit”—et de visions pour l’oeil.

        Steve Schwartzman

        May 2, 2012 at 8:21 AM

  3. A nice picture of flower and fly and such clarity!

    Jo Ann Abell

    May 2, 2012 at 7:31 AM

    • I often give thanks for my 100 mm macro lens, without which so many of these pictures wouldn’t be possible. A lot of fascinating things lie just below the resolution of the human eye.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 2, 2012 at 7:35 AM

      • A macro lens is my next investment, or maybe a Christmas idea for hubby.

        Jo Ann Abell

        May 2, 2012 at 7:38 AM

      • I hope you won’t have to wait that long: there’s a lot to see (and photograph) between now and year’s end.

        Steve Schwartzman

        May 2, 2012 at 7:43 AM

  4. Marvelous shot!


    May 2, 2012 at 1:25 PM

  5. Great capture. Lovely detail.


    May 2, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    • Thank you. I hadn’t been to the Blackland Prairie for a while and I found plenty to photograph that day.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 2, 2012 at 8:32 PM

  6. My, my, Steven. This is a jaw dropper! Perfection!

    Sheila T Illustrated

    May 2, 2012 at 8:53 PM

  7. Just think – if William Blake had access to a macro lens, we might have gotten, “Little fly, who made thee?…”


    May 3, 2012 at 8:06 AM

    • Now that’s a novel thought. More generally, think about the fact that through all of human history, only for the last four hundred years have people been able to see things in the microscopic world.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 3, 2012 at 12:33 PM

  8. Super photo Steve and I like the overview also!


    May 3, 2012 at 1:20 PM

  9. Thank you for your comment on my blog. I see we do indeed share an enjoyment of hoverflies and other insects. There are so many types of hoverfly. Certainly, my macro lens has opened a fascinating world to me. I shall enjoy your blog. Thanks again.


    May 5, 2012 at 4:28 AM

    • You’re welcome. I certainly enjoyed looking at your photographs and I encourage readers to check them out as well. Our macro lenses have opened up normally hidden worlds.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2012 at 6:26 AM

  10. So pleased to have a moment to catch up–and what I’ve missed! What lovely flowers (and clearly, from the photo, I’m not alone in thinking that).

    Susan Scheid

    May 5, 2012 at 6:34 PM

  11. Bishop’s Weed is so delicate.. I almost think I prefer the star-shape of them before they open up:)

    Just A Smidgen

    May 8, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    • I’ve noticed quite a few types of flowers that take the shape of some sort of conventionalized star before they open. Not until I’d looked at this picture, though, did I realize that prairie bishop’s weed is another one of them; its flowers are so tiny that I hadn’t ever noticed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 8, 2012 at 9:06 PM

      • I suspect you’re right, we wouldn’t see this because they’re so tiny… thankfully you’ve got your special lens… 😀

        Just A Smidgen

        May 8, 2012 at 11:14 PM

  12. This is a fantastic shot! The clarity and the colors truly are stunning! I love the glistening wings.


    June 14, 2012 at 7:31 PM

  13. […] For a much closer and more inviting look at corn salad flowers, be sure to check out a post from 2012. […]

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