Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Same species, similar density, richer color

with 14 comments

Click for greater size and clarity.

So yes, I’ll say it again, we’re still having dense displays of mixed wildflowers in central Texas. While the last post showed the paler shades that horsemints, Monarda citriodora, can take on, this picture shows how rich the purple can be. It’s just a matter of normal variation, like complexion in people.

The date was May 21, and as I drove along back roads through ranching and farming country in Burnet County, about 45 minutes north of Austin, I saw dozens of large fields like this one, with dense colonies of horsemints stretching into the distance. Quite a sight. The interspersed red-and-yellow flowers are Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheels and Indian blankets; as flowers or maturing seed heads, they also still blanket large areas in central Texas.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 24, 2012 at 5:31 AM

14 Responses

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  1. Steve, If you get out as far as Mason County you might want to check out Old Mason Rd. off Hwy 386 north of Mason (road to Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area). This picture could have been taken there.
    What makes this area so interesting is the diversity of plant species in a diversity of soils, both granitic and limestone. The whole road is beautiful but the most interesting section to me is between the main entrance to the WMA and Kruse Rd. to the north. Best time to botanize is on the weekend. Plenty of places to pull off safely. Not recommended in rainy weather as this is a dirt (pretty soft sand in places) road, slippery when wet.

    Agnes Plutino

    May 24, 2012 at 7:39 AM

    • Thanks for the tip, Agnes. I’ve been trying to get out that way ever since you mentioned Mason a month or so ago. As I sit here looking out my window, the wind is blowing and the sky is overcast. While I’d normally welcome rain, I wouldn’t want to face driving on a back road that had turned to mud.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 24, 2012 at 7:49 AM

  2. We have a lot of purple horsemint here in the Sugar Land area. I love seeing all that purple! The butterflies and bees like it, too.


    Texas Susan

    May 24, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    • I’m glad to hear they’re abundant this year in eastern Texas as well. Let’s hope all that purple is keeping you busy—and busy avoiding housework.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 24, 2012 at 8:48 AM

  3. Je me pose une question, existe-t-il une période sans fleur chez toi?


    May 24, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    • Normalement il y a peu de fleurs de la fin de décembre jusqu’à la première partie de février, mais cette année nous n’avons pas eu d’hiver, comme tu as pu te rendre compte dans ce blogue. Même en août, avec une température qui peut monter à 40°, certaines espèces profitent de la chaleur pour fleurir.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 24, 2012 at 11:18 AM

  4. I can imagine it was quite a sight!!!


    May 24, 2012 at 1:56 PM

  5. That’s a glorious sight! I’ve been out in the last couple of weeks trying to capture pictures of swathes of coloured flowers, but I haven’t managed one as spectacular as this. Wonderful colours!

    Finn Holding

    May 25, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    • It is glorious, isn’t it?—yet so common a sight now that I’m afraid the farmers and ranchers whose lands look like this are blasé about it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 25, 2012 at 4:43 PM

  6. […] 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 […]

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

  8. […] If you looked carefully at the last picture, you may have noticed that not all the dry seed heads were those of Liatris mucronata. At the center of yesterday’s photograph were some remains of horsemints, Monarda citriodora, that had persisted from the spring. Today’s picture, also taken on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin on November 20, gives you a better look at one of those dried-out and candelabra-like horsemints. If you’d like a refresher on what this plant looks like when it’s busy being flowerful, you can flash back to an individual or a colony. […]

  9. […] Mirabilis, the Titian of Tinantia, the Gauguin of Gaillardia, the Dalí of Datura, and the Monet of Monarda. You, too, can play the game and add other alliterative titles that link a famous artist to a […]

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