Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A bluebell colony

with 21 comments

Bluebell Colony 9771

Click for greater clarity and much larger size.

I photographed this colony of bluebells, Eustoma exaltatum, along Old Lockhart Rd. in far southeast Austin on July 8. Notice that not only aren’t bluebells blue—they’re purple or violet-colored—but some of them can be very pale and even white.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 28, 2013 at 6:20 AM

21 Responses

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  1. they’re beautiful!

  2. Wow! Aren’t these gorgeous! Beautiful colours, lovely centres and so many – I had to look the name up to see what it is related to as obviously they are not related to the English Bluebell nor campanulas. I see they are a member of the Gentian family which makes sense now – especially when they are in bud.

    You have some great wild flowers in Texas – I would never have believed that so I am very glad I discovered your blog with your very beautifully captured images.
    Jude xx


    July 28, 2013 at 7:06 AM

    • You’re right that the name bluebell by itself can be confusing, especially when there’s also a Texas bluebell that is a member of Campanulaceae. Some books refer to the one shown here as a bluebell gentian to avoid confusion.

      Yes, we definitely have some great wildflowers in Texas, more than most people elsewhere would suspect, and more, too, than even many residents realize. One of my purposes in maintaining this blog is to make people aware of the native diversity here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 28, 2013 at 8:09 AM

    • By the way, since you’re in the UK, I should mention that this wildflower was much prized as an import to your country in the 1800s. Here’s how Paxton’s Magazine of Botany, published in London, described it in 1838:

      “LISIANTHUS RUSSELLIANUS. Duke of Bedford’s Lisianthus. An exceedingly 
handsome new plant, probably an annual, sent home by the lamented Douglas, 
from San Felipe de Austin [near present-day Sealy], Texas, in 1835. The plant grows from one to two feet 
high, and has rich purple flowers as large as a tulip, which continue in beauty for 
a period of three weeks. Sir William Jackson Hooker thinks there can be no 
doubt but under proper management, by flowering early in the spring, and planting 
out in the open border, this plant will then perfect its flowers as readily as the Phlox Drummondi [sic].”

      The writer even got the color right.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 28, 2013 at 8:21 AM

  3. Sometimes, “pretty” is just the right word. They’re sweet and delicate and lovely.


    July 28, 2013 at 7:07 AM

    • I’ll take “pretty.” Unfortunately, from what I’ve read, that prettiness led people to pick them in many places, with the result that these flowers aren’t seen on publicly accessible land as much as they once were. This colony was on private property and I used to telephoto lens to get what pictures I could while standing outside the barbed wire fence.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 28, 2013 at 8:13 AM

  4. I understand the show can go on for quite a ways. This is a beautiful selection, Steve.

    Steve Gingold

    July 28, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    • If you’ll let me borrow Cole Porter:

      “The overture is about to start,
      You cross your fingers and hold your heart,
      It’s curtain time and away we go!
      Another op’nin’,
      Just another op’nin’ of another show.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 28, 2013 at 10:02 AM

  5. This is quite beautiful!!!


    July 28, 2013 at 8:51 AM

  6. Awesome!!! It’s been a good summer for them. With the recent rains, I’m looking forward to an outstanding fall show.

    Agnes Plutino

    July 28, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    • I was tipped off to bluebells in this southeastern Austin area, so I drove down and found colonies in several places.

      I’m with you in hoping the recent rains will be enough to provide us with a good fall wildflower show.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 28, 2013 at 10:05 AM

  7. I am singing “Blue Moon” looking at your picture.. beautiful!


    July 28, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    • That’s a good song to be singing. I just learned that the familiar lyrics of “Blue Moon” were the fourth that Lorenz Hart wrote for that Richard Rodgers tune. You can see the details in the History section of this article:


      None of this has anything to do with wildflowers, but I’m glad you prompted me to do a little digging of the research kind.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 28, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    • By the way, last year I saw part of the movie Manhattan Melodrama on television, and I was surprised to hear the classic song sung there with completely different lyrics. I didn’t pursue it then, but now I know the whole story.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 29, 2013 at 10:27 AM

  8. It’s a lovely flower. It must be so beautiful to see a field covered with these flowers. 🙂

    Inspired and pretty

    July 29, 2013 at 10:28 PM

  9. An interesting post for me to read, today, having just read the entry for April 8th in Portrait of a Garden, (Excerpts from a New Zealand Garden Diary) by Kerry Carman. Kerry is admiring the gentians in her garden. She has gentian acaulis, which she describes as a ‘celestial gentian blue’. She also quotes D H Lawrence’s Bavarian gentians… “with the smoking blueness of Pluto’s
    gloom”, so there’s another take on blue. And here is my take on Blue http://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/3794/. The link, within the post, to ultramarine is interesting.


    April 7, 2014 at 10:09 PM

    • My eyes see the flowers in your post as at least blue-violet, but with emphasis on the violet. In contrast, most of the pictures online that I found of gentian acaulis do look blue to me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2014 at 10:41 PM

      • Kerry’s paintings of her gentian acaulis show a deep blue; perhaps a midnight blue.


        April 7, 2014 at 10:47 PM

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