Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Speaking of elbows

with 7 comments

Click for greater clarity.

Click for greater clarity.

Speaking of elbows, which I did yesterday morning as frivolously as I dragged in arithmetic that afternoon, here are a number of emerging flowers on an elbowbush, Forestiera pubescens, that I found along one of the trails at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on February 3. Elbowbush regularly begins flowering here in February, but even for this species the 3rd of the month is on the early side. While the early bird may get the worm, this plant gets no worms, but more to the point not even any petals; so if you’re at a party sometime soon and stumble into a heated discussion about whether all flowers have petals, you can become the center of attention by stating authoritatively that elbowbush flowers don’t have petals.

To see the places in the southwestern quadrant of the United States (considered as if Alaska and Hawaii didn’t exist) where this species grows, you can check out the state-clickable map at the USDA website.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 11, 2013 at 6:16 AM

7 Responses

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  1. I’ve always regretted the lack of forsythia here in Texas. Its pretty yellow flowers were our first sign of spring in Iowa. I was surprised to see this elbowbush is in the same family. It’s time to stop thinking of forsythia and start looking for elbowbush – though I’ll have to travel a bit to find it.

    It reminds me of eastern redbud, because of the flowers on the trunk.


    February 11, 2013 at 7:12 AM

    • It so happens there’s some forsythia planted at an intersection less than a mile from me, and it’s flowering now. The only reason I know what it is, given that it’s not native here, is that my mother planted some when I was little and the name has stayed with me since childhood. I wouldn’t have known that it’s in the same family as the elbowbush if you hadn’t said so here, so I’m glad you did.

      I haven’t seen any redbud flowers yet, whether on trunk or branch, but they shouldn’t be more than a few weeks away now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 11, 2013 at 9:30 AM

  2. Several elbow bushes grow on my property. A great native for wildlife. Birds eat the early ripening fruit. The biggest one here came up beneath a yaupon holly and thrives there. The elbows here are also blooming. I really like this native. When conditions are just right the branches will grow to look like the bend of an elbow.


    February 11, 2013 at 10:03 AM

  3. What an interesting display!


    February 11, 2013 at 9:39 PM

  4. […] presence felt in Austin, as you saw from the last two posts and earlier ones of agarita buds and elbowbush flowers, the dried-out remains of last year’s plants still predominate. Here’s what was left of […]

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