Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Mountain pinks on the “mountain”

with 24 comments

Mountain Pinks Flowering on Cliff 6035

Click for greater size and clarity.

When Capital of Texas Highway was built in a half-loop around the hilly west side of Austin in the 1970s, engineers had to cut through those hills in various places. That created cliffs, including the one that you see the top of here, which I photographed from its base with a telephoto lens. Conspicuously growing out of the face of that cliff on June 21st were some Centaurium beyrichii plants. Now you know why they’re called mountain pinks.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 6, 2013 at 6:18 AM

24 Responses

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  1. Mountain pinks also always bloom along Highway 12 heading into Wimberley…another fairly rare wildflower that is in bloom right now is Texas bluebells (Eustoma russellianum). They can be found scattered along tollway 45 connecting I35 with Hwy 183—there is a large show of them just as you turn right onto 183.


    July 6, 2013 at 6:35 AM

    • Thanks for your tip about the location of those bluebells at TX 45 and US 183. I’ll try to check it out, because I haven’t seen any bluebells yet this season.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2013 at 7:27 AM

  2. This reminds me to tell you there is a nice display (at least there was last Tuesday) of Mountain Pinks on the south side of Hwy 29 just before you cross the railroad tracks in to Burnet, near Mount Airy B&B. Very accessible for close-ups. Just go a little west and find a safe place to turn around so that you don’t get clobbered by on-coming traffic or rear-ended turning left across the road.
    Also a nice stand of Bluebells in a draw just east of Bertram. Also on the south side of Hwy29 near what used to be a stone cutting place. I did not stop either place because I was in too big of a hurry.

    Agnes Plutino

    July 6, 2013 at 7:24 AM

    • And thanks for your tips, too, Agnes. As I wrote just now in my reply to Esther, I haven’t seen any bluebells yet this year, so it’s high time to photograph some.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2013 at 7:29 AM

  3. These clearly are the same flowers I’ve found in the rocky areas around Kerrville and Medina, but these are taller than most I’ve seen. I thought about it, and finally decided the same dynamic’s in play with these as with the Symphyotrichum subulatum you showed us. Like those asters, the mountain pinks along the road have been mowed within an inch of their life, even where there’s not much to mow except rocks. As a result, their blooms are much closer to the ground. That’s my theory, anyway.

    I love this photo. It makes me want to turn around and head right back to the hill country.


    July 6, 2013 at 7:24 AM

    • I can relate to your talk of mountain pinks getting mowed within an inch of their life, and I would go even farther and say to death. About six years ago I discovered some mountain pinks growing along US 290 on the east side of Austin, a place where they “have no right to be.” Each June or July I’d go over there and photograph those strangely located mountain pinks, but I knew the colony wouldn’t survive because that stretch of highway was going to be turned into a toll road. Sure enough, two years ago, the plants had all been killed by construction. Fortunately there are plenty on the west side of Austin where I live, and even this week I found a colony in a location that’s new to me. That colony was beginning to fade already, but I’ll try to remember to go there earlier in the season next year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2013 at 7:40 AM

  4. Steve, I really enjoy the narrative you include with your BEAUTIFUL images!


    July 6, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    • Thanks for letting me know you appreciate both. As for the narrative, that must have something (probably a lot) to do with my having been a teacher for a long time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2013 at 1:33 PM

  5. It’s always amazing to me how certain plants can survive in such impoverished circumstances: clinging to bare rock or emerging from cracks in the sidewalk. Here on Vancouver Island, California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) thrive on the edges of highways where rock has been cut through to make the roadbed. Somehow, the poppies gain a foothold.


    July 6, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    • It sounds as if those California poppies are on a par with these mountain pinks, which not only gain a foothold in precarious places but somehow find nourishment and water where both would seem to be in scarce supply. Mountain pinks also grow here on “barren” ground of a type that’s known as caliche.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2013 at 1:31 PM

  6. Le floral et le minéral, c’est superbe! merci pour les explications.. mais je croyais que tu étais monté au sommet pour les photographier!!!


    July 6, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    • J’aurais pu monter au sommet (pas de ce côté, bien sûr), mais je voulais montrer les rochers et le ciel. Demain je présenterai une prise bien différente.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2013 at 6:13 PM

  7. I like this photo of the mt.pinks very much. It is difficult to see how in the word the little flowers get enough moisture to put forth those pretty little blooms. It seems to hang on and of course it is adapted to grow on rocks.


    July 6, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    • I’ve also wondered how these plants get enough moisture, but the fact remains that they do. As you wrote, they’re adapted. I’m glad that they are.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 7, 2013 at 6:01 AM

  8. […] last post showed a distant view from below of some mountain pinks, Centaurium beyrichii, flowering near the top of a cliff along Capital of Texas Highway on June 21. […]

  9. I’m constantly in awe at where flowers will grow!


    July 7, 2013 at 11:35 PM

  10. […] Note: The picture taken of the Mountain Pinks is from Portraits From Wildflowers, https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/mountain-pinks-on-the-mountain/ […]

  11. Hello! I was searching for a great picture of this beautiful flower for a blog post and came across yours. This flower grows in abundance up and down our driveway and I missed getting pictures of them this year. It amazes me how something so beautiful can grow where there is little to no soil and TONS of rock! I wanted to let you know that I linked to your blog and used your photo, giving you full recognition and credit. Here’s a link to the post: http://2013blessings.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/blessing-92-out-of-adversity-grows-beauty/. If you’d like me to remove it, I would be more than happy to, but it seemed to really just explain my post.

    Take care and have a great day!


    August 11, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    • I’m glad you found the photograph useful, Meredith. It’s okay to link to it on your blog. As you mention there, this species flourishes in places that seem to us pretty inhospitable. That’s just their planty nature, I guess.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 11, 2013 at 5:27 PM

  12. […] as a background the way it appeared in yesterday morning’s photograph—you can have a look upward from afar at some plants on a cliff or closely downward at a flowering dome. And for the large majority of you who weren’t […]

  13. I’m sorry I missed this the first time around. It is stunning!


    August 30, 2013 at 7:52 PM

    • Better late than never, Lynda. The way this species takes hold in unlikely spots is impressive. Late each spring I eagerly look around for flashes of pink in out-of-the-way places.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 30, 2013 at 8:37 PM

  14. […] Today’s photograph looks largely downward at the margin of land along the highway, but last year I aimed upward to show how these plants live up to the name mountain pink by seeming to grow right out of lofty rock. […]

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