Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Barbara’s buttons

with 19 comments

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Posts near the end of May showing Centaurea americana led to comments about the cornflower, Centaurea cyanus, a European genus-mate that’s long been cultivated as a garden flower in the United States. The European species is also called bachelor’s buttons, and while that common name doesn’t seem to have gotten transferred to any native American wildflowers, here in Texas we do have Barbara’s buttons, Marshallia caespitosa, which like Centaurea is in the sunflower family.

I don’t recall ever noticing Barbara’s buttons in my neighborhood before 2012, but on April 13th of this year I found some budding plants on an undeveloped property not far from home. The white “glow” surrounding this developing flower head is from a blackfoot daisy a little distance behind it. Who the Barbara was that Barbara’s buttons got named after remains a great metaphysical mystery.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 20, 2012 at 5:42 AM

19 Responses

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  1. Now how about that, a flower named after me;) I’m pinning this one!!
    ps I happen to be quite fond of Daisies and couldn’t think of a prettier white glow!

    Just A Smidgen

    June 20, 2012 at 7:45 AM

  2. This is so beautiful! Loved the colors and how you have framed it on top of the white flower below. Amazing! 🙂


    June 20, 2012 at 7:46 AM

    • It just occurred to me that this is another instance of white on white. In my photographs I take advantage—if I notice—of the positions of things in the background and try to play them off my subjects in a revealing way. I’m glad this alignment appeals to you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 20, 2012 at 8:03 AM

  3. Wunderschön!!!


    June 20, 2012 at 8:39 AM

  4. It’s probably not correct but all of my family in the UK call Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium) Bachelor’s Buttons. I was confused for a moment!
    I love the background “glow” in this photo.


    June 20, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    • That’s the thing with vernacular names: different people can use them in different ways. In the case you mention, it seems to be a family usage rather than a regional one. By whatever name, I’m glad you like the “glow”.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 20, 2012 at 9:16 AM

  5. For someone who loves white flowers, and all things green, this is an exceptionally lovely photo. I’ve never heard of the flower – I wouldn’t be surprised if Barbara happens to be a relative or friend of Humphrey Marshall, the botanist memorialized in the name Marshallia caespitosa. In any event, I’m glad to see yet another new treasure!


    June 20, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    • Your speculation about the name is as good as anyone’s, and plausible. I see that the species grows in some counties near the Texas coast and also in western Louisiana, so you may get the chance to see this new treasure in person. Lucky me to have found one within walking distance of home this year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 20, 2012 at 10:46 AM

  6. […] last post showed a developing flower head of Barbara’s buttons, Marshallia caespitosa. Now you get to see what the wildflower looks like when it becomes a […]

  7. The light bouncing off the daisy is perfect, it’s a really neat technique for backlighting your subject. Do you mind if I borrow it? 🙂

    Finn Holding

    June 20, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    • Be my guest. I can’t be the first person to have used the technique, nor was this the first time I’ve used it, although usually I’ve done so with a background color different from the main foreground color.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 20, 2012 at 3:24 PM

  8. Lovely shot with the white behind the flower.


    June 20, 2012 at 7:08 PM

  9. I like how you created a halo around the flower bud!!


    June 28, 2012 at 2:17 PM

  10. […] a post in my other blog in June I featured a wildflower known botanically as Marshallia caespitosa. The species name is based on the Latin noun caespes, with stem caespit-, which meant ‘a […]

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