Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The “real” dayflower

with 18 comments

Click for greater clarity.

You may remember a picture from February of the “false” dayflower, Tinantia anomala. Now here’s a picture of the “true” dayflower, Commelina erecta, whose two large petals are bluer than those of the other species. I took this picture on Morado Circle in my northwest Austin neighborhood on May 1, a time when the “false” dayflower was still thriving in various places around town and the “true” one had recently begun putting in appearances.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 17, 2012 at 5:34 AM

18 Responses

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  1. Somehow I’d missed the false dayflower – what a stunner. I’ve been trying to think of other flowers with only two petals – haven’t come up with one yet, but that’s no doubt due to my lack of exposure to much of what’s out there.

    I’ve noticed several “false” this and that in your photos. Is it just that someone comes upon a flower that reminds them of a species already named and uses “false” as a way to pay tribute or distinguish one from the other? Whatever the explanation, this one certainly is “true blue”!


    May 17, 2012 at 7:31 AM

    • As you said, it often has to do with a species that reminds people of what they knew elsewhere, e.g. the Old World for Europeans arriving in the New, or the West for Americans coming from the East.

      It surprises people—as it will you now, I think—to learn that these species actually have three petals: the two obvious ones, plus a third centered below them that’s small and pale and therefore usually not recognized for what it is. I like the way you noted that compared to the “false” dayflower, this one’s main petals are certainly “true” blue.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 17, 2012 at 7:53 AM

  2. And a true blue flower–lovely. Thanks for the hint about the posting and time issue. Did figure out the UTC conversion, and settings were an hour difference, probably because of daylight savings time. Anyway, not sure that will solve the problem, hope it does. I have native Liatris scattered among my various habitats. It’s blazing star, and it is quite showy and sweetly purple. Thanks Steve for your suggestion, Sally


    May 17, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    • You’re welcome, Sally. Let’s hope that fixes the time and date stamp for you. I expect your Liatris hasn’t produced flowers yet, but it’s one more thing for you to look forward to. I also imagine that you have some species of Commelina, possibly including an Asian one that has taken hold in parts of the U.S.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 17, 2012 at 1:13 PM

  3. Kind of like fool’s gold.. both are pretty:)

    Just A Smidgen

    May 17, 2012 at 9:51 AM

  4. Beautiful capture of a beautiful flower! I love the way it is presented here with the black background – really pops off the page!

    Michael Glover

    May 17, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    • Thanks, Michael. This photograph comes from the same session that produced the pictures of goldeneye and mistflower that you saw a few days ago. The light was low, so I had to use flash, and that had the effect of making the background come out black even though my eyes could see all the details in it. It’s one more example to show that the camera often sees things very differently from the way we do.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 17, 2012 at 1:22 PM

  5. What colour was the background when you photographed? If not black, how did you get it to come out that way?

    • As you were writing that question, I was answering it in my response to Michael, just above your comment. There was shaded foliage in the background, which my eyes had no trouble seeing. The same shade included the dayflower, so used flash to lighten it up. Flash falls off very quickly (according to the inverse square law, says the physicist), so it had essentially no effect on the foliage a couple of feet behind the dayflower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 17, 2012 at 1:36 PM

  6. This flower is shimmering – beautiful:)


    May 17, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    • I think that’s a first here: I don’t recall ever seeing the word shimmering in a comment. The word is especially appropriate for those who click the picture to see a sharper version of it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 17, 2012 at 2:21 PM

  7. Stunning photo and to be honest, I can’t remember seeing a two petalled flower before. Maybe I’ve been so intent on getting true colour & sharp focus in my flower photography, I’ve neglected to actually observe how many petals. I’m really impressed with this flower, Steve.


    May 18, 2012 at 5:22 AM

    • Like you, I’m often so focused [pun intended] on taking a picture that I don’t notice some detail of the subject. In this case, the plant itself tricks us, because there are actually three petals. The third, centered below the two blue petals, is small and pale, so we can be forgiven for not seeing it or realizing it’s a petal.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 18, 2012 at 6:23 AM

  8. Somehow I missed the false one, but in my opinion, false or true, they are both beautiful flowers that were captured well !


    May 18, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    • Interesting: you’re the second commenter to say you missed the false one. That flower surprised me when it started flowering in February. Because of that, and because of its intrinsic appeal, it became a “winter” favorite (I put winter in quotes because we didn’t really have a winter this year) for people elsewhere who were snowed under, freezing, etc.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 18, 2012 at 3:35 PM

  9. Wow! And I thought the false one was pretty!


    May 19, 2012 at 10:22 PM

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