Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Giliastrum incisum

with 26 comments

Giliastrum incisum Flower 6879

Click for better definition.

The morning of April 8 was breezy and overcast, so when I found a tiny wildflower at the edge of Floral Park Drive, I was hard pressed for enough light to take pictures. Not wanting to add the glare of flash, I raised my camera’s ISO to 4000, higher than I’d ever gone before. You can detect some graininess in the background greenery, but the photograph came out pretty well.

The wildflower was tiny, barely over a quarter of an inch in diameter. I didn’t recognize it, but I consulted with Joe Marcus at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and he got me into the right genus. The flower turns out to be Giliastrum incisum, known as cut-leaf gilia, and it normally grows to only about a third of an inch across. Today marks the debut in these pages of this tiny wildflower.

To see the counties in Texas and New Mexico where this species has been reported, you can consult the state-clickable map at the USDA.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 4, 2013 at 6:17 AM

26 Responses

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  1. A real stand-out when photographed in this manner. Would not have looked like anything had it been photographed in any other manner. Brilliant of you to showcase this tiny beauty.



    May 4, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    • I was especially pleased to find it (and a few other kinds of wildflowers) because it was in an area along the edge of the street that the “keepers” have been keeping largely bare this year. Photographing a flower so tiny was a challenge.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 4, 2013 at 8:27 AM

  2. Beautiful photograph. The Gilia looks like it’s floating in a sea of luminescent greens.


    May 4, 2013 at 9:42 AM

  3. This is a dazzler, for sure.

    Susan Scheid

    May 4, 2013 at 10:21 AM

  4. Too pretty for words.


    May 4, 2013 at 3:15 PM

  5. Seems to me the perfect illustration for the tiny light that illuminates the most potent darkness. Lovely! I grew Five-Spot Gilia in Washington but haven’t tried any here yet. Maybe this is a sign it’s time.


    May 4, 2013 at 5:11 PM

  6. Beautiful capture.

    Lisa Vankula-Donovan

    May 4, 2013 at 8:06 PM

  7. There are several truly tiny flowers I notice here from time to time – yellow, orange, pink. I’ve always wondered what they’d look like in a photo. Now I know – with the right photographer, they look splendid. Isolating it against a dark background is a perfect way to highlight its beauty. I suspect there was “a lot going on” around it.


    May 5, 2013 at 7:23 AM

    • This was another case where a person present at the site of the photograph would have seen all the background details with no trouble, so much more sensitive is the human eye than any camera sensor yet developed. In this photograph the camera’s lack of sensitivity worked in my favor, because I’d prefer not to see distracting things in the background. Other photo-worthy things were close at hand, including a few rain-lily buds and flowers that had drawn me to that stretch of road to begin with, but it’s always nice to find something new.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2013 at 7:37 AM

  8. This is a stunning capture!

  9. This is gorgeous…. The color, the contrast!


    May 5, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    • Fortunately a number of you are finding this unfamiliar wildflower to be a little gem shining in the darkness.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2013 at 9:59 PM

  10. Gorgeous!!!


    May 6, 2013 at 4:31 PM

  11. Beautiful little thing!


    May 6, 2013 at 9:43 PM

  12. Nice Steve. I really like the dark background.

    Brian Comeau

    May 7, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    • I agree with you, Brian, that the dark background did a good job of isolating this flower. It’s an approach I’ve used from time to time and no doubt will keep using when conditions are right.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 7, 2013 at 7:55 PM

  13. […] I think you will be surprised to learn that this plant is in the same botanical family as the cut-leaf gilia from a couple of months ago, which was low and tiny. Despite the differences, botanists classify […]

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