Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

When isn’t violet violet?

with 24 comments

Wild White Petunia Flower 0449

Click for greater clarity.

When isn’t violet violet? When we’re talking about the color not of the Ruellia you saw last time, nudiflora, nor of various other genus-mates, but of Ruellia metziae, a less common species known as wild white petunia. (Some sources, including Marshall Enquist, classify this as Ruellia nudiflora var. metzae.) In the United States the wild white petunia grows only in Texas.

I took this photograph on July 14th along Old Settlers Blvd. near Greenhill Dr. in Round Rock, a suburb immediately north of Austin that has grown to 100,000 people. There may not be that many little crinkles on this flower, but there are a lot of them, and they add to its charm.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 28, 2013 at 6:10 AM

24 Responses

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  1. Your title reminds me that Georgia O’Keeffe and other painters mixed other shades with their whites and their blacks, so the black wouldn’t appear like a hole in a canvass, and white would render some soul. Photographed white with the shades reflected on it, isn’t just white either. Beautiful blossom here.


    August 28, 2013 at 6:41 AM

    • Thanks for that painterly information, Georgette. I (and no doubt other readers) didn’t know that. I was taken with this picture, too, the nicest one of this species I think I’ve ever taken (in a different sense of the verb).

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2013 at 8:30 AM

  2. I read the title and saw the flower and thought, well that’s not a violet, surely it is a petunia. I thank you for your explanations of your photographs, and I love the texture on this flower, crinkled linen at its best 🙂


    August 28, 2013 at 7:18 AM

    • Interesting how we have two negative here. The flower isn’t violet-colored, nor is it, despite its resemblance to a petunia, a true petunia, but rather a member of the acanthus family.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2013 at 8:32 AM

  3. While all the Ruellia that is native to my part of Florida is violet, I have seen some cultivated Ruellia, which is normally violet, morph into white. It is strange to see a group of Ruellia that on day 1 is all violet, on day 2 is half violet and half white, and on day 3 will be all violet again.

    John Bradford

    August 28, 2013 at 7:46 AM

    • I’ve noticed over the years that many purple flowers have white variants, but I’ve never heard of the kind of on-again-off-again change you described. Live and learn.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2013 at 2:58 PM

  4. Beautiful …. looks like Petunia…….


    August 28, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    • That’s why people named this a wild petunia, but it’s so wild that it’s no petunia at all.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2013 at 2:59 PM

  5. The tiny shadows along the top edge of the petal at upper right remind me of shadows of ice along Saturn’s rings.

    Jim in IA

    August 28, 2013 at 8:02 AM

    • Now that’s a novel similarity, one I would never have thought of, not being as familiar with planets as with plants (what a difference an e makes).

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2013 at 3:54 PM

  6. Ce pétunia est magnifique et en plus vivace! quelle chance!


    August 28, 2013 at 11:02 AM

  7. Lovely little bloom and the crinkles are delightful as is your control of the whites which makes them so tangible.

    Steve Gingold

    August 28, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    • This was a case where only in looking at the photograph afterwards did I realize how many little crinkles the flower had. It was so bright in reality as I looked through my viewfinder that I couldn’t see all the subtleties. You used a good (and almost synesthetic here) word: tangible.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2013 at 4:03 PM

  8. It is quite beautiful, well done. I really appreciate what you did with the background.

    Charlie@Seattle trekker

    August 28, 2013 at 9:56 PM

    • Thanks, Charlie. You may have heard me say that sometimes I think the three most important things in a photograph are background, background, and background.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2013 at 10:03 PM

  9. Beautiful detail in this photo


    August 29, 2013 at 7:27 AM

    • I’ll admit that I was particularly pleased with the way this photo came out; it was better than I’d had a reason to expect.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2013 at 7:30 AM

  10. Just beautiful. The texture reminds me of crepe paper, in two ways. There are the crinkles, of course. But good crepe paper can be stretched without breaking – it’s at once delicate and strong. This flower appears to share those qualities.

    I saw that the photo in Enquist was taken in Center Point. When I go up to Kerrville, I cut off of I-10 at Comfort and take the river road through Center Point. I’ve put Ruellia metziae on my list of things to look for next time.


    August 29, 2013 at 7:56 AM

    • I hadn’t thought about crepe paper, but now that you mention it I can see it. I’ve never pulled on one of these petals to know how strong it is.

      I don’t think I’ve ever been in Center Point, so I looked it up on a map. Going to Kerrville from Austin I always pass through Fredericksburg, so Center Point isn’t on my route, but since you say it’s on a river road I’ll try to detour that way the next time I’m near there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2013 at 8:19 AM

  11. We have a lavender colored wild petunia that grows here. I never knew it was a petunia until your photograph today. I looked up wild petunia and there they were. Your closeup work is always amazing.


    March 26, 2018 at 5:47 AM

    • Thanks, Lynda. I learned early-on that wild petunias, in spite of their name, have nothing to do with the cultivated petunias that are so well known.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 26, 2018 at 8:37 AM

      • Yes, the leaves on them aren’t even close!


        March 27, 2018 at 11:51 AM

        • Too bad someone confused things by choosing the misleading name “wild petunia.” Oh, well, it’s hardly the first misnomer we’ve lived with, not will it be the last.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 27, 2018 at 5:16 PM

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