Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Indian paintbrushes and friends

with 34 comments

Paintbrushes, Firewheels, Other Wildflowers 1904

Click for more sharpness.

It hasn’t been a great year for Indian paintbrushes in any of the places I’ve visited, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t show you at least one picture of Castilleja indivisa. Most of the other flowers in this photograph are firewheels, Gaillardia pulchella, and the purple ones in the background at the lower left are bluebonnets that were still vibrant on April 30. The location was FM 20 at Rio Vista Cove a few miles east of Lockhart, a town in Caldwell County some 30 miles south of Austin.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 8, 2013 at 6:24 AM

34 Responses

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  1. Oh, this is vermilion and beautiful!


    May 8, 2013 at 6:31 AM

    • A reader was good enough to give me a tip recently about this area east of Lockhart, and the picture shows you why I wasn’t disappointed with what I found.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 8, 2013 at 6:56 AM

  2. I don’t believe I’ve seen paintbrushes combined with firewheels. It’s a lovely combination. This photo’s also just slightly humorous, in the sense that the three paintbrush in the foreground seem to be leaning away from the single gaillardia. Perhaps the gaillardia’s giving them the annual, “You think Texas spring is only about bluebonnets and paintbrushes?” lecture.


    May 8, 2013 at 7:30 AM

    • Clearly I like bluebonnets, but I’ve long wished for something closer to equal time for all our other wonderful wildflowers. Sowers of seed often mix paintbrushes with bluebonnets for their contrasting colors, which certainly go well together, but many thousands of other combinations are possible (so much so that I’ve thought of a wildflower photography book called Combinations).

      Your comment about the way that the paintbrushes seem to be pulling away reminds me of a picture you’ll remember from this past fall.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 8, 2013 at 7:56 AM

  3. Wow this is beautiful!!!


    May 8, 2013 at 9:17 AM

  4. lovely post description is also very nice.


    May 8, 2013 at 10:30 AM

  5. Stunning image, Steve! The saturation of colors, the layers of foreground and background – another of your painterly shots.


    May 8, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    • Thanks, Lynn. This is what we get to enjoy along Texas roadsides in the spring. I’m still seeing sights like this.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 8, 2013 at 6:59 PM

  6. Beautiful colors !


    May 8, 2013 at 12:44 PM

  7. Hi. The colors in this photo are amazing. It would make a great canvas to brighten a room! Jane

    jane tims

    May 8, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    • You and Lynn (two comments back) reacted similarly: she said “painterly” and you said “canvas.” I only wish I had some talent for painting, but lacking that I’ve learned to wield a camera.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 8, 2013 at 7:04 PM

  8. Those paints are beautiful… and so different from the species we have here.


    May 8, 2013 at 10:17 PM

    • I see that there are about four dozen species of Castilleja in the United States, so I can’t say I’m surprised that yours in cold Montana would be pretty different from ours in hot Texas. Castilleja indivisa is common here, and often planted with bluebonnets along highways.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 8, 2013 at 10:34 PM

  9. So very pretty. Colors are just perfect.


    May 8, 2013 at 11:56 PM

  10. As an avid mountain hiker Indian paintbrush is a favorite; you really captured its beauty.

    • I’ve never seen a Castilleja in the mountains; I can understand why that would be a favorite of yours.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2013 at 6:51 AM

  11. Wonderful blaze of colour.


    May 9, 2013 at 2:27 AM

  12. Absolutely gorgeous.

    Alex Autin

    May 9, 2013 at 7:36 AM

    • I was on my way to a country road that a reader had tipped me off to, but when I passed the roadside display that this was part of, I turned the car around, parked, and spent probably an hour at the site.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2013 at 7:47 AM

  13. a lovely mess of may…


    May 9, 2013 at 11:55 AM

  14. Blake’s phrase regarding ‘heaven in a wild flower’ is clearly applicable when we’re faced with beauty worthy of an hour’s turnaround-and-stop like this. Thanks for sharing it!


    May 9, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    • You’re welcome.

      “To see a world in a grain of sand,
      And a heaven in a wild flower,
      Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
      And eternity in an hour.”

      I don’t know about eternity, but I held the camera in the palm of my hand for an hour.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2013 at 2:44 PM

  15. Let us know when the book comes out! Are a lot of these combinations you photograph planted or growing wild naturally?


    May 11, 2013 at 5:36 PM

    • If the book comes out, it’ll most likely be an e-book, which has its advantages and disadvantages compared to a book on paper. The combinations are almost always natural. When it comes to resplendent displays like the one here, it’s possible the Department of Transportation seeded the roadside at some point, but I think these mixed colonies are growing on their own now. In any case, historical accounts confirm widespread wildflower colonies long before there was a Department of Transportation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 11, 2013 at 5:50 PM

  16. […] of wildflowers, that is, alongside FM 20 a few miles east of Lockhart on April […]

  17. […] Other members of the Scrophulariaceae, or figwort family, that you’ve seen here include Texas toadflax, prairie agalinis, cenizo, and—perhaps best known of all—Indian paintbrush. […]

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