Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Horsemint seed head remains

with 12 comments

If you looked carefully at the last picture, you may have noticed that not all the dry seed heads were those of Liatris mucronata. At the center of yesterday’s photograph were some remains of horsemints, Monarda citriodora, that had persisted from the spring. Today’s picture, also taken on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin on November 20, gives you a better look at one of those dried-out and candelabra-like horsemints. If you’d like a refresher on what this plant looks like when it’s busy being flowerful, you can flash back to an individual or a colony.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 5, 2012 at 6:17 AM

12 Responses

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  1. It is like Bee Balm… which I do know and grow. 🙂


    December 5, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    • It is indeed. In fact another colloquial name for Monarda citriodora is lemon beebalm. Also growing in my area are Monarda punctata, known as spotted beebalm, and Monarda clinopodioides, which is called basil beebalm.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 5, 2012 at 7:34 AM

  2. Superbe. On dirait un chandelier face au ciel bleu.


    December 5, 2012 at 8:47 AM

    • C’est comme ça que je l’ai conçu, ou bien comme une personne mince avec les bras élevés.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 5, 2012 at 9:56 AM

  3. In this form it surely belongs in a Dr. Seuss book illustration! I like it. 😉


    December 5, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    • And I wouldn’t mind getting some of those Dr. Seuss-type royalties. If you have an in with a publisher you can pass along the idea.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 5, 2012 at 9:58 AM

  4. What amazing structure. It’s another example of loss (of the bloom) leading to gain. I agree that it’s candelabra-like, although I’ll add that it reminded me of a specific form of “candelabra” – the Victorian fairy lights that usually were single, but which also could be found in sets. There are photos around of banquet halls with fairy lights arranged in almost exactly this form, but I can’t find one just now. This is the best I could do, but it will give you a sense of the candle cups, and how they could be stacked in this way.


    December 5, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    • I’ve been fascinated by horsemint remains for years and have photographed them many times, but I believe this is the first closeup that has appeared here.

      I hadn’t heard of fairy lights, but I see what you mean in the photograph you linked to. Now if I could just get $10,999 for my horsemints I’d willingly start calling them fairy mints and see if I could get botanists to reclassify them as Monarda monetaria.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 5, 2012 at 10:06 AM

  5. Loved your reference to the last post. I looked at this one first and was pleased to go back to the previous photo and spot it in there with the liatris. I doubt, without your education in close looking, I would have noticed this before!

    Susan Scheid

    December 5, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    • I’ve been exploring native plants in my little part of the world for over a decade, Susan, so I’ve gotten familiar with certain species. I can’t remember when I realized (or was told) that the kind of remains shown here are from horsemints. I’m glad you were able to pick out the dry horsemints in yesterday’s photo, where they were only a minor element among the Liatris.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 5, 2012 at 12:05 PM

  6. Love the horsemint, especially those that are a deeper purple, that I see sometimes in the wild. Lovely photo.


    December 5, 2012 at 9:03 PM

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