Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A different set of colors

with 9 comments

Click for considerably larger size and greater clarity.

As I was saying, we’re still having dense displays of mixed wildflowers in central Texas. If the last post favored yellow, here’s one where the color of the horsemints, Monarda citriodora, predominates. Some Mexican hats, Ratibida columnifera, and firewheels, Gaillardia pulchella, are mixed in.

Date: May 16.  Place: a thankfully still undeveloped piece of prairie on the east side of Interstate 35 adjacent to a funeral home in far north Austin.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 23, 2012 at 1:15 PM

9 Responses

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  1. Even in the scene’s stillness, it seems to have motion, Sally


    May 23, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    • That’s a good way to put it, Sally. Perhaps our eyes imply the movement as they themselves move around looking for somewhere to come to rest within the picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 23, 2012 at 2:50 PM

  2. These photos of the mixed fields can be less immediately appealing, I suppose, but this one seems just remarkable to me. The horsemint looks for all the world like a forest of flowers – the conifer shape is unmistakable. Not only that, the spacing seems so regular. Do you suppose flowers arrange themselves like birds on a wire, protecting their personal space? 😉


    May 25, 2012 at 10:03 PM

    • Your imagination is good at coming up with unique visualizations. I’ve long thought of horsemints as pagodas, but never as conifers. About a decade ago, however, with an imaginary change in scale, I saw a rain-lily as if it were a tree in a forest.

      As for the spacing of flowers, I’ve long thought that that should be investigated mathematically to see if patterns emerge. It seems that a big factor is where the seeds ended up from previous seasons, but not all seeds germinate, and perhaps the ones that do germinate have a suppressive effect on the others. But that still leaves unanswered the question of whether there’s a pattern to the ones that do germinate and survive.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 25, 2012 at 10:26 PM

      • After all this time, I finally discovered some horsemint. Coincidentally, they were mixed in with gaillardia and Mexican hats. There weren’t many, but all it took was a glance for me to recognize them, even as I was driving down a country road. You’re right about the pagoda shape. it’s easier to see the resemblance in real life. Unfortunately, the vacant lot where they were located was fenced with barbed wire, but I was able to get some photos.

        I thought a few that I saw were fading, but after I came home and read more about them, I saw that there sometimes are very pale or even white flowers, so I’ll go back and check that out. They’re so intricate — and beautiful.


        May 15, 2016 at 9:46 PM

        • Yay, horsemints. Now that you’ve found a few and have a feel for them, you should find more.

          The fact that you left your comment on this post is a sad coincidence. I see from my text that the location was “a thankfully still undeveloped piece of prairie on the east side of Interstate 35 adjacent to a funeral home in far north Austin.” We drove past that site this afternoon and I discovered that the parcel adjacent to the funeral home has just become a construction site. That plot had also been good for bluebells in some years. Goodbye to another familiar piece of prairie.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 15, 2016 at 10:24 PM

          • You’re right about the variation in color: horsemints range from pale or almost white to a vivid purple. I came across a few of the vibrant purple ones on Friday.

            Steve Schwartzman

            May 15, 2016 at 10:53 PM

  3. […] You’ve seen photographs in which horsemints, Monarda citriodora, appeared as a group, but now it’s time to show you a closeup of an individual one so you can appreciate the complex structure of these pagoda-like flowers. Horsemint color varies quite a bit, from the saturated purple you saw in one group picture down to even paler shades than those that you saw in another group picture. […]

  4. […] of a horsemint, Monarda citriodora. (This spring you saw fresh horsemints en masse in posts on May 23 and May 24, and individually on June […]

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