Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Blue mistflower at Hamilton Pool Preserve

with 25 comments

Conoclinium coelestinum Flowers 4391

Click for greater clarity.

Something else I saw during my August 19th visit to Hamilton Pool Preserve was this “blue” mistflower, Conoclinium coelestinum. That common name is yet another example of how widely some people’s color sense can vary (or go astray, as my eyes see things). And speaking of common names, mistflower, which applies to relatives of this species as well, comes from the fact that the many little “threads” emanating from these flower heads make them look hazy or misty when seen from a distance.

You may be surprised to learn that this species is in the sunflower family, even though its flowers don’t look like sunflowers or asters or daisies. Conoclinium is in the tribe (i.e. branch) of the sunflower family called Eupatorieae—and who but a biologist would make up a word with four consecutive vowels in it?

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 12, 2013 at 5:50 AM

25 Responses

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  1. Pretty little flower, although when I saw the picture I DID think it was some kind of aster!


    September 12, 2013 at 5:55 AM

  2. Lovely little flowers. Reminds of our garden ageratum which are related.

    Steve Gingold

    September 12, 2013 at 5:55 AM

  3. Do these live in sunny conditions, or shade? Do they seem to like the wet around the pool?

    I don’t see blue. It’s more purple or lavender. Close, but not blue to my eyes. Oh, did I mention I’m color blind to shades of reds and greens?

    Jim in IA

    September 12, 2013 at 6:34 AM

    • The places where I’ve seen this species have been shaded. In the case of the flowers shown today, they weren’t around Hamilton Pool itself but in the vicinity of the creek that flows from it. I featured this species only once before, two years ago, and that plant was also in the shade close to a creek.

      If you’ve always seen things without certain shades of red or green, then I imagine that’s your normal. When I was a kid I used to wonder whether what I saw as, for example, green, might look to someone else like red or purple or yellow. We can measure wavelengths, but I don’t think we can know how a color appears in someone’s mind.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 12, 2013 at 7:24 AM

      • It’s interesting how certain plants need a very specific environment in order to flourish. One that comes to mind here is the blue chicory along the roadsides. What a nasty place to grow. It is right at the edge of the pavements, not in the fertile ditches. There is salt, grit, fumes, etc. But, every year they come out in force and appear as strong as ever.

        You know those colored dot tests where you are suppose to see numbers? I don’t see certain numbers. The same wavelengths are there for everyone. But, some of us see only certain ones. We perceive differently as you point out.

        One more thing, I like the textured leaves on the plant today.

        Jim in IA

        September 12, 2013 at 8:15 AM

        • You’re right. Some plants seem especially good at making a go of it in seemingly inhospitable places. Half a year ago, at


          I showed a firewheel that had managed to spring up in a crack in a paved traffic island.

          The textured leaves are appealing indeed. To the next commenter they suggested that the plant is tough.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 12, 2013 at 8:26 AM

          • Nice looking firewheel. You may be one of the only people in the world to have noticed it, and then you went back. It is a rare distinction. It’s like seeing Venus or Jupiter or a star in broad daylight. Not many of us have done that.

            Jim in IA

            September 12, 2013 at 10:05 AM

            • I photographed it in such a way that you don’t notice the human elements, but I was very much aware of them when I was there. I didn’t see any planets at the time except my little swathe of Terra.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 12, 2013 at 12:28 PM

  4. This one’s lovely. It reminded me of sensitive brier, which you’ve shown here in the past.. Despite its name, sensitive brier’s a tough little plant. The leaves on this one suggest it might be, too.


    September 12, 2013 at 7:32 AM

    • Interesting that you should see a resemblance to sensitive briar, which I’m planning to show a picture of next month (minus any ants and larvae). As for the toughness of a species whose common name implies delicateness, you may be right. The last time I showed one of these plants, it was doing a good job surviving the drought of 2011, even though the section of Bull Creek along which it grew had completely dried up.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 12, 2013 at 7:42 AM

  5. Well, there is blue and then there is “gardener’s blue” – that violet-blue color to which we cling to as blue, until we look up at the sky 🙂


    September 13, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    • I like that phrase, “gardener’s blue.” I’m glad you see the sky coming to the rescue; I’ve invoked it that way too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2013 at 7:36 PM

  6. imagination at work. If focusing only on the foreground of the flowers and dark background, I visualize fireworks like some at festivals. Some had just exploded, a few exploded seconds ago and are drifting to earth, several are about to explode.


    September 14, 2013 at 6:25 AM

  7. Interesting that this is a member of the sunflower family.

    Susan Scheid

    September 14, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    • It’s a huge family—the one that claims the most species in Texas—so some of its members can look quite different from one another.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 14, 2013 at 3:14 PM

  8. […] on some Eupatorium serotinum, a white-blossoming member of the same tribe, Eupatorieae, as the blue mistflower that was blooming nearby. From what I’ve found online, this kind of moth might be Cisseps […]

  9. I guess blue mistflowers must be my favorite wildflower. Your photograph captures their delicacy — so beautiful! — Elizabeth


    September 28, 2013 at 7:23 PM

  10. […] look like daisies or sunflowers (for example climbing hempvine, marsh fleabane, shrubby boneset, purple mistflower, and poverty weed). Enough already, you say? Hey, I’m only the messenger; that’s just […]

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