Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

One of our mistflowers

with 8 comments

Click for greater clarity.

From late October into November this year, the Ageratina havanensis in Austin got passionate about putting out flowers. This close floral view of the bush that is called mistflower, shrubby boneset, and Havana snakeroot comes from northwest Austin on November 4.

In the United States Ageratina havanensis apparently grows only in Texas, with Austin being on the far eastern edge of its range; at least that’s what the USDA map shows. The species name havanensis implies that this plant was first identified in Cuba, and it grows natively in Mexico as well, so this is one of those cases where Texas provides the northernmost habitat for a tropical or at least subtropical species.

As for the title of today’s post, let me add that people have given various plants in the genera Eupatorium, Ageratina, and Conoclinium the common name mistflower.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 27, 2012 at 6:12 AM

8 Responses

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  1. I had mistflower for many years and it was given to me by a botanist who died quite a few years ago. She told me that is was native, however, mine was blue or bluish purple. A man that helps me manage an un-manciured yard, chopped it all out one year. Your photo is of a different color so mine must not have been native. I just know that the mistflower that is purchased from a nursery is a wonderful butterfly attractor at my daughter’s house in Austin.


    November 27, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    • You may want to check out the last sentence in the text above, and particularly the photograph that the Conoclinium link takes you to.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 27, 2012 at 3:08 PM

  2. Another example for that “Texas Only” collection. Is it fragrant? It looks as though it ought to be.

    The movement of plants is interesting. When I first visited Key West, I was astonished to find so many familiar trees and flowers – ones I’d first encountered in West Africa. Someone told me that a variety of species arrived via ocean currents. I never explored that, but it’s back on my list of curiosities.


    November 28, 2012 at 9:55 PM

    • Yes, these only-in-Texas-within-the-United-States flowers have a fragrance, not one of my favorites, but one that draws lots of insects.

      And yes, species do move around, both by natural means and through human agency, whether purposeful or accidental (think dandelions, for example). The one time I was in Australia, seven years ago, I went for a walk one afternoon and was surprised to find lantanta growing on its own alongside the path. I later learned that the species I saw, which is native in Texas, has become an invasive nuisance in Australia.

      Last year I was surprised to see a red admiral butterfly in a blog post from Germany. According to what I’ve read, the species is considered native in Europe as well as in the Americas. And huisache trees, so lovely here in Texas, are an invasive species in Hawaii.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 28, 2012 at 10:36 PM

  3. I’m jealous that you only get them in Texas. It is lovely and it would make me smile to see it. Thanks for sharing!


    November 29, 2012 at 3:40 AM

    • There are quite a few related and somewhat similar-looking species called mistflowers, so perhaps you can find one of those near you. In the last sentence of the text above I mention three genera to consider.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 29, 2012 at 9:54 AM

  4. In Australia we have Mistflower (Ageratina riparia) and Crofton Weed (Ageratina adenophora). They are weeds often of disturbed sites or where nutrients have been added to infertile sandy soils from run off.


    November 30, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    • I wasn’t familiar with Ageratina riparia, so I looked it up and found that it’s native to Mexico, Jamaica, and Cuba. Ageratina adenophora turns out to be native to Mexico, so both of those species are invasive exotics in Australia.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 30, 2012 at 9:30 PM

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