Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Mountain pink

with 23 comments

Click for greater size and clarity.

If the Maximilian sunflower you saw last time was months early, the mountain pink you’re seeing now was right on schedule when I photographed it on June 7 by the side of Capital of Texas Highway in the hills on the west side of Austin. Those hills are the mountains in the familiar name mountain pink, but there are neither hills nor mountains in the botanical name Centaurium beyrichii. The mound of blossoms and buds in this picture is part—and only part—of the dense floral dome of a single plant; that’s how profusely mountain pink plants can flower.

The photograph I posted on this date last year is relevant to what you’re viewing today: a mountain pink bud with a single opening flower seeming to dance behind it (if looked at with the proper dose of imagination, but not a greater dose than was required for botanists to hark back to the centaurs of Greek mythology when naming this genus of plants).

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 19, 2012 at 5:54 AM

23 Responses

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  1. What a beautiful burst of colour!! Thanks for starting off my day just right :).


    June 19, 2012 at 6:02 AM

  2. Wow this photo should brighten everyone’s day!!!


    June 19, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    • Including ours here in Texas, where the sky is cloudy and there was thunder a few minutes ago. Brightness aside, we need rain, so wish us well in getting some.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 19, 2012 at 2:27 PM

  3. Very nice capture!

    Rick Diffley

    June 19, 2012 at 4:55 PM

  4. Though I’m not always able to come up with a comment, please know that coming to your site always brightens my day, I must say. Mom and I have been using our wildflowers at a glance pamphlet. We narrowed down one little gem to a sort of polygonum, but I am charged with going back to check the leaf arrangements to nail it down. Another we can’t find, and we believe the reason is it is an “import” and not natural to the area, though the only place we see it is “in the wild.” I have tried to take photos with flash to capture some for ID, and my flash always fails! I must leave that to the masters (read: Steven Schwartzman).

    Susan Scheid

    June 19, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    • Thanks, Susan. I’m glad for brightening your day.

      While these wildflower guides include many common species, they come nowhere close to including them all, so a plant that you encounter in the wild but can’t identify from the guide could be native or alien.

      I’m sorry your flash pictures aren’t turning out. Is there someone local you can ask about that, perhaps at a camera store?

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 19, 2012 at 9:03 PM

      • I think it’s something I’m doing, not the camera–and what I need to do is spend some time experimenting to figure out what I’m doing wrong. In the meantime, it’s fun to take a closer look, with my guide in hand!

        Susan Scheid

        June 20, 2012 at 8:52 PM

  5. Eye popping color! Love this one! ~ Lynda


    June 19, 2012 at 8:10 PM

  6. Wouldn’t these be pretty in a wedding bouquet or a small kitchen vase?! I wish!!

    Just A Smidgen

    June 19, 2012 at 9:17 PM

    • I don’t know how well they would keep as cut flowers, but you might have a live plant growing in a flowerpot (though I don’t think you’d want a bride to go walking down the aisle holding a flowerpot).

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 19, 2012 at 9:40 PM

  7. I’m just astonished by the color and shape of the bud. Had I come across only the buds, I never would have imagined what you’ve captured here.


    June 19, 2012 at 11:38 PM

    • I can’t think of any bud that’s more slender, or that contrasts more with the domed shape of the inflorescence as a whole.

      At the place where I took last year’s picture there had been quite a few other mountain pink plants, so I went back this year—and found not a single one. Such is the variability of nature. For whatever reason, this seems to be a poor year for mountain pinks.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 20, 2012 at 4:24 AM

    • I should have added that it isn’t only nature that’s variable. About six years ago I discovered some mountain pinks growing along US 290 in the prairie on the east side of Austin, where they had no right to be. I went back to the site each spring to photograph those pioneer plants, but I can do that anymore: the widening of the highway into a toll road destroyed them all last year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 20, 2012 at 4:57 AM

  8. stunning flower…i have never seen them before. I would send you some of our rain if i could…had enough for now.

    Jo Bryant

    June 20, 2012 at 12:05 AM

    • Even in the United States most people aren’t familiar with this species, which is mostly limited to certain parts of Texas, where we could use some of your surplus New Zealand rain.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 20, 2012 at 4:40 AM

  9. Les insectes doivent se régaler dans ta région. C’est le paradis pour eux.


    June 20, 2012 at 3:23 AM

  10. […] The dense flowers of mountain pink, Centaurium beyrichii, continue in complexity if not color when they go to seed and dry out. […]

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