Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

White water lily with scrolled leaf

with 27 comments

White Water Lily with Scrolled Leaf 2389

Click for greater clarity and size.

Water lilies are appealing in their own right, of course, but what further intrigued me here was the way a leaf of this plant had risen out of the water and formed a scroll (which some of you may anthropomorphize into the top of a cowboy boot).

Nymphaea odorata is a white-flowered water lily native in Texas and most other American states as well as parts of Canada and Mexico.

This is the fifth in a series of pictures I took at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on July 23, and the first in these pages ever to show a water lily.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 20, 2013 at 6:04 AM

27 Responses

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  1. Perfection once again 🙂


    August 20, 2013 at 6:12 AM

  2. well spotted (as usual 😉 ), Steven


    August 20, 2013 at 6:15 AM

    • And there are also even some spots on the lily pads at lower left and upper center, Annette.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 20, 2013 at 6:21 AM

  3. A pure beauty, waterlilies are so beautiful.


    August 20, 2013 at 6:31 AM

    • They are, Bente. I don’t know why it has taken me more than two years to show a photograph of one.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 20, 2013 at 6:50 AM

  4. Love love love this one.

    Lisa Vankula-Donovan

    August 20, 2013 at 6:34 AM

    • Thanks, Lisa. It’s different from anything that came before, and so fulfills the never-ending goal of novelty.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 20, 2013 at 7:02 AM

  5. Very nice. I like the small dashes of yellow in the center. Do the leaves emerge scrolled and then open to lie flat on the water?

    Jim in IA

    August 20, 2013 at 6:44 AM

    • Thanks for pointing out those little bits of yellow. As for your question, I’m afraid I don’t see water lilies often enough and long enough to know the answer. Anyone who does is welcome to tell us.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 20, 2013 at 7:04 AM

  6. This is lovely Steve and I like how you included the rolled leaf in the composition. Two years without a showing? With such a variety of floral subjects I can understand why!


    August 20, 2013 at 8:41 AM

    • I’d photographed water lilies before, David, and even in the same pond at the Wildflower Center, but the rolled leaf made this one special for me. Even after more than two years, there are still common wildflowers from Austin that I’ve never shown a picture of. As you say, we have quite a variety of them here—the more to regale you with.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 20, 2013 at 8:47 AM

  7. Where better than in LBJ country to see a cowboy boot in a water lily leaf!


    August 20, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    • Thanks for contextualizing, K.I. (and in this L.B.J part of the state I can even say centextualizing).

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 20, 2013 at 12:44 PM

  8. Nice lotus oriented zen shot! 🙂

    Thomas Peace (author)

    August 20, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    • Some people have claimed that photography is a form of zen. If that’s so, then so much the better.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 20, 2013 at 3:10 PM

  9. Exquisitely beautiful Steve!

    Michael Glover

    August 20, 2013 at 9:27 PM

  10. Gorgeous!


    August 20, 2013 at 9:59 PM

  11. There are great spreads of waterlilies at Anahuac, and I’ve seen the rolled leaves there. I’ve assumed they grow as shoots until they break the surface of the water, and then open to the sun.

    The combination of flower and leaf really makes this one. If you’d shown only the flower or only the leaf, it would have been – well, just one more water lily picture. But showing them together is great. It’s almost a “beauty and the beast” shot. The flower is so pure and delicate, and the leaf looks heavy and substantial.

    I’ve been reading about Ada Lovelace and her work with Charles Babbage’s analytical engine. Back in 1843 she said, “The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns just as the jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves”. I think she would have loved this photo.


    August 21, 2013 at 7:18 AM

    • One of these days (months? years?) I’m going to have to spend time at Anahuac, which I don’t believe I’ve ever visited.

      I agree with you about the combination of flower and leaf: I’d photographed water lily flowers from time to time, and of course they’re pretty in their own right, but the leaf, especially in what I think of as an atypical position and shape, made the photograph special.

      I’m glad to hear you’re reading about historical figures from mathematics. Readers may be interested to learn that Ada Lovelace was not only a mathematician but also the daughter of the poet Byron:


      Steve Schwartzman

      August 21, 2013 at 8:01 AM

  12. Beautiful Steve. Love water lilies, and especially love when their pads curl up as you’ve shown. Well done!

    Tina Schell

    August 21, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    • So you’re familiar with that curling, Tina, which I don’t recall noticing before. I often wonder about the many things I must have missed, but here I finally caught up with one.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 21, 2013 at 8:10 PM

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