Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Hill Country colors

with 9 comments

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On April 11th I was driving in Llano County in the Texas Hill Country when I pulled over to see a dense display of wildflowers on the side of a country road. I mostly photographed the flowers with no intermediary, but also through the filter of what I took to be rock-cress plants, Arabis petiolaris, with their distinctive upright seed pods.

Almost all of the red flowers were Indian paintbrushes, Castilleja indivisa, which you’ve seen several times in these pages this season. The yellow flowers with brown centers joining the rock-cress for a first appearance in this blog were brown bitterweed, Helenium amarum var. badium, which can form dense colonies on their own as well as in conjunction with other species of wildflowers, as here.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 5, 2012 at 5:38 AM

9 Responses

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  1. I like that you used the seed pods as a filter. I think that added to the already beautiful background of wildflowers.

    Jo Ann Abell

    May 5, 2012 at 6:57 AM

    • I hadn’t planned to do that but when I came across the rock-cress and saw the dense wildflowers through its pods, I knew I needed to take some pictures focusing on those plants and letting the wildflowers be primarily background color. I’m glad you like the effect.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2012 at 7:11 AM

  2. More and more, the grasses and such are catching my interest. The varied colors of the seed pods is really attractive. And I see that another name is Brazos Rockcress – Texan to the core. (I wonder if there’s a song about there being no more rockcress on the Brazos?)

    And lo – when I went to the Wildflower Center for more information and clicked on an image, whose photography should pop up but yours! I got a smile out of that.


    May 5, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    • I first noticed this species in Austin a few years ago, but later in the season, when the pods had dried out and become translucent. I didn’t know what it was, but someone identified it for me. I doubt there’s a song about this plant, but you could write one or commission someone to.

      When I donated a couple of hundred pictures to the Wildflower Center a few years ago, I did my best to supplement entries on their website that had few pictures of a species, or that lacked images of certain stages in a plant’s life. It’s a happy coincidence that you came across one of those in your research on Arabis petiolaris. I’m glad to have provided a morning smile.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2012 at 11:56 AM

  3. My mom is a painter and she often portrayed Indian Paintbrush in forefront of her mountain photos.. they do grow here as well:)

    Just A Smidgen

    May 6, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    • Do you know what species of Castilleja you have in Calgary? There are several dozen of them in North America.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 6, 2012 at 9:10 AM

  4. What a beautiful display!


    May 6, 2012 at 11:10 PM

  5. […] native plant that I don’t often encounter and that has appeared in these pages only once (when it was well past its flowering stage, at that) is Arabis petiolaris, known as rock-cress or Brazos rock-cress. Here you see the flowers […]

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