Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Why is it called a basket-flower?

with 29 comments

Click for greater clarity.

Now you see why Centaurea americana is called a basket-flower.

In contrast to the flower head in yesterday’s post, which was mature and showing the first signs of fading, the one you see here was especially fresh and vibrant, and the bracts of its “basket” even seemed to glow as if fashioned of gold leaf (oh, would that they had been, for my sake).

The date and location are the same as last time: May 18 on a piece of the Blackland Prairie in southeastern Round Rock. To see the many other places in the United States where basket-flowers grow, you can consult the state-clickable map at the USDA website.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 31, 2012 at 5:32 AM

29 Responses

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  1. As my daughter would say ooooohhhhh aaawwwwhhhh!!!!

    Bonnie Michelle

    May 31, 2012 at 6:31 AM

    • Your daughter (if she’s the one in Austin) has a chance to say that while seeing the real thing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 31, 2012 at 6:45 AM

  2. Brilliant!

    Susan Scheid

    May 31, 2012 at 6:33 AM

  3. Yes, they really do look like gold. Great angle!


    May 31, 2012 at 7:01 AM

    • I’ve photographed lots of basket-flowers in my time, but I don’t recall the “undercarriage” of one ever looking so metallic before.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 31, 2012 at 7:08 AM

  4. Voilà donc la raison de son nom. Je crois bien que j’aime plus la version “dessous” que la précédente. La prochaine fois, j’irai regarder dessous celle que je crois être de la même famille. Magnifique photo.


    May 31, 2012 at 7:16 AM

    • Un avantage de la vue “dessous” est qu’elle révèle souvent les petites créatures qui s’y cachent. En voici un exemple de l’année dernière que je crois que tu n’auras pas vu, y compris un poème en français:


      Val said that she believes she prefers the view from below, which explains the basket-flower’s name, and she adds that the next time she encounters a European wildflower that she thinks is in this family she’ll be sure to look at it from underneath.

      I often photograph a flower from various angles, and I don’t always know which I’ll end up preferring. One advantage of the view from below is that it often reveals little creatures that hide out there or that get trapped there, as in the photograph from last year that I provided a link to.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 31, 2012 at 7:37 AM

      • Que ce poème va bien avec ta photo. L’illustration ne peut être plus réaliste. Merci.


        May 31, 2012 at 8:09 AM

      • Dès que j’ai vu les deux fourmis enterrées dans la goutte de résine, j’ai pensé à la cire des ailes d’Icare et au poème que j’avais lu à l’université il y a plus de 40 ans.

        Steve Schwartzman

        May 31, 2012 at 1:22 PM

  5. Your photo certainly makes sense of the name. Not only that, comparing your photo to the USDA site photos makes clear the role of the photographer in revealing beauty. The main USDA photo does show the basket-flower as just a touch bachelor-buttonish. I love these family resemblances.


    May 31, 2012 at 7:29 AM

    • I like to think of the photographer as subject to a V.A.T., or value-added task. There can be straightforward documentation, but to my mind an effective photograph adds something to what was there. And yes, family resemblances are fun. From what I’ve learned of the species native in central Texas, I can often tell that something elsewhere is a relative, even if I don’t know what it is.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 31, 2012 at 7:54 AM

  6. Super photo Steve!!


    May 31, 2012 at 9:57 AM

  7. The previous photo was beautiful, but this? Stunningly beautiful! ~ Lynda


    May 31, 2012 at 10:09 AM

  8. Espectacular!!

    Pablo Buitrago

    May 31, 2012 at 12:36 PM

  9. Reblogged this on Found Round & About and commented:
    Great info & photo!

    Tisha Clinkenbeard

    May 31, 2012 at 1:26 PM

  10. I have nothing insightful to say. I just feel the need to comment whenever a photo makes me gasp with delight. Which that one does.


    May 31, 2012 at 10:11 PM

  11. Gorgeous photo!


    May 31, 2012 at 11:09 PM

  12. Apologies for the repetition, but yes, a gorgeous photo of a gorgeous flower. Lovely detail, colours and contrast against the blue sky. Great shot.

    Finn Holding

    June 2, 2012 at 9:16 AM

  13. […] here’s a view of a dried-out basket-flower seen from below. The stalk that was a vibrant green when fresh has dulled down now to a reddish-brown that I still find pleasant. If the noontime sky […]

  14. […] dying, drying leaves on the lower portion of its stalk. In the background is a dried-out colony of basket-flowers, Centaurea americana. The equally dry seed stalks two-thirds of the way down the left edge of the […]

  15. […] Word order matters: a flower basket isn’t a basket-flower. […]

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