Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 33 comments

Click for greater size and better clarity and color.

Over the 13 years that I’ve been focusing on native plants I’ve often portrayed individuals, but I’ve also been fascinated by the combinations of species I find growing in the same place or even occasionally stuck together. Today’s picture, taken on May 3 in far south Austin, shows a threesome that appealed to me.

Playing a supporting role in the background were some firewheels, Gaillardia pulchella, a species you’ve seen several times and in several stages this spring. The frontmost wildflower is a Texas thistle, Cirsium texanum, another species you’ve seen several times this year. New to this blog is the plant that the thistle has gotten itself stuck on: prairie parsley, Polytaenia nuttallii. Please bid it welcome.

I hope this combination of colors calls out to you as much as it did to me.


Posted on this date last year: a view of the toll the drought was taking on our ashe juniper trees.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 21, 2012 at 5:38 AM

33 Responses

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  1. Une explosion de couleurs et de variétés qui savent bien s’adapter et ce, pour notre plus grand plaisir. Beau!


    June 21, 2012 at 6:42 AM

    • Dommage que tu n’aies pas pu te promener là. (Ça aurait fait un Val dans un pré.) Un de ces jours, peut-être…

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2012 at 6:57 AM

  2. I love the colour combo, but I also like the contrast between the spiky look and the soft look :).


    June 21, 2012 at 6:48 AM

    • Good of you to point out the contrast in textures as well as colors. It was the spines of the thistle that allowed it to catch on the prairie parsley.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2012 at 7:01 AM

  3. Hi,
    Beautiful flowers, I love the colours. 🙂
    Thank you again for your comment over at my blog.


    June 21, 2012 at 6:58 AM

  4. Also an amazing find! Both complimentary and analogous depending on your point of view!

    Bonnie Michelle

    June 21, 2012 at 7:25 AM

  5. Lovely photo of a lovely combination. I first learned of the parsley out on Nash Prairie – good to see this confirmation that I identified it properly!


    June 21, 2012 at 8:43 AM

    • This stout plant (that’s the word some of the field guides use to describe it) isn’t normally a crowd-pleaser, but I’m fond of its starbursts of little yellow-green flowers, and I find its clusters of seeds intriguing as well. I’m glad you had a chance to get familiar with this species on Nash Prairie.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2012 at 11:01 AM

  6. Beautiful!


    June 21, 2012 at 8:58 AM

  7. The colors are beautiful, my favorite!

    Kathy C

    June 21, 2012 at 9:47 AM

  8. Lovely… This time of year our wild flowers are slim … once the heat of summer comes they will start blooming… it’s finally hot here yesterday and today.


    June 21, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    • This picture is from seven weeks ago, and while we still have plenty of wildflowers, we’ve gone past most of the densest displays as we’ve moved into summer. It sounds like you’re at a much more northerly latitude than Austin, where we’ve had temperatures in the 80s and 90s for months already.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2012 at 1:39 PM

      • Connecticut… quite a difference in wild flowers… so that makes your posts all the more interesting. How did they hold up during this long drought you’ve endured?


        June 21, 2012 at 2:22 PM

        • If you look back through last summer’s posts here you’ll see that even in the worst of the drought there was always some wildflower surviving or even thriving.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 21, 2012 at 3:03 PM

          • That is so amazing about them. I imagine that the seeds stay dormant until there is water… Thoughts to think about in tough times… Many thanks.


            June 21, 2012 at 6:56 PM

      • I’ve heard that the seeds of some species can stay dormant for years and even decades. And some species, e.g. purple bindweed, seem to thrive and reproduce even when there’s not much water.

        Steve Schwartzman

        June 21, 2012 at 9:39 PM

  9. The plant you call a Firewheel, which makes a lovely back drop to your pic, is called Indian Blanket here. Love taking pictures of them because they seem to be a favorite of every pollinating insect around! Nice shot!

    The Jagged Man

    June 21, 2012 at 9:28 PM

    • Both of those names are in use in Texas, along with blanket flower. I’ve tended to say firewheel in recent years to emphasize the redness and roundness of the flower heads. By whatever name, they do attract plenty of insects—and photographers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2012 at 9:33 PM

  10. Great find Steve!!! Love the contrast of shapes, textures and colors!!!


    June 22, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    • Actually combinations like this are pretty common here during the peak of the wildflower season. As a photographer, my job is primarily to find a good vantage point and an appropriate way to frame the scene. In any case, I’m pleased that you like this group.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 22, 2012 at 2:10 PM

  11. […] I photographed this little sweat bee (yes, there is such a thing) on a Texas thistle at Tejas Camp in Williamson County on May 15, 2011. There’s a good chance this insect is Augochloropsis metallica. There’s also a good chance you’ll find this as appealing a combination of colors as the last one in these pages that included a Texas thistle. […]

  12. Beautiful color explosion! I can definitely see why it called out to you!

    Michael Glover

    June 23, 2012 at 12:38 PM

  13. Beautifully vibrant, Steve. You have such a wonderful ‘eye’.

    Cindy Kilpatrick

    June 23, 2012 at 6:50 PM

  14. That’s quite an introduction to the prairie parsley. I like the idea of portraying the wild flowers growing together. Especially when the colours are like these, they’re magnificent!

    Finn Holding

    June 26, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    • I’m glad that you find this a happy combination of shapes and colors, in particular as an introduction to the prairie parsley, which doesn’t normally get a lot of attention.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 26, 2012 at 7:34 PM

  15. […] the heavy-duty power lines that cross a part of my Great Hills neighborhood in northwest Austin. The last time you saw some stuck-together flowers in these pages was about five weeks ago, when the species in contact were a Texas thistle and some […]

  16. […] The branching brown plant near the right edge of the picture, likewise spent and dried out, is prairie parsley, Polytaenia nuttallii. You can follow those three links if you’d like to be reminded of the […]

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