Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Purple leatherflower

with 7 comments

Purple Leatherflower Flower 7358

Click for greater clarity.

For all the pictures of the wonderful Clematis drummondii that you’ve had a chance to look at here, you’ve seen only two photographs of another species that’s native—actually endemic*—in central Texas, Clematis texensis, known appropriately as scarlet leatherflower. If you weren’t visiting these pages last year, or if you’d like another jolt of bright red, especially as it stands out against a background of blue sky and white cloud, I invite you to look back at a scarlet leatherflower.

Now cometh this writer to say that in Austin there’s another native leatherflower: it resembles the red one but has purple flowers and is therefore called purple leatherflower. After the stage shown in today’s picture, the tepal tips will flange back some more but won’t create a very wide opening at their center.

Clematis pitcheri, as botanists know this purple-flowering species, has a much wider distribution than its red genus-mate, as you can verify on the state-clickable map at the USDA website.

This photograph is from Bull Creek Park on June 27th.


* The word endemic indicates that a species grows natively in a certain area—often a relatively small one—and nowhere else.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 18, 2013 at 6:12 AM

7 Responses

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  1. My clematis on the mailbox is still making flowers. I wonder what the tiny spider hoped to catch who left the web strands in the crook of the stem.

    Jim in IA

    September 18, 2013 at 7:09 AM

    • And I’m still finding flowers on some of the Clematis drummondii vines around Austin, even if that species is months past its flowering peak.

      I find spider silk on the majority of plants I look closely at. As tiny as some spiders are, there’s always prey that’s equally small.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 18, 2013 at 7:24 AM

  2. Love the composition Steve!


    September 18, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    • I often like to keep things simple, David, and the angle conveys a certain dynamism. I’m glad it appeals to you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 18, 2013 at 9:18 AM

  3. I know I’ve mentioned this, but this stage of the flower looks so much like the vintage fuzzy toys of a few decades back. On the other hand, it has the elegant lines of an art nouveau piece – perhaps an accent lamp.

    I’m curious about “endemic”. I wonder if plant people have sharpened the definition. When I was working in public health, the word referred to conditions or diseases which were native to certain areas, but didn’t imply exclusivity. Malaria’s a good example. It was endemic to Liberia, but the variety found there also existed in many other countries. Interesting.


    September 20, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    • Any reference to Art Nouveau (which of course is no longer nouveau) is welcome to me.

      As for endemic, you raise a good point, and the American Heritage Dictionary confirms the two definitions:

      1) Prevalent in or peculiar to a particular locality, region, or people: diseases endemic to the tropics.
      2) (Ecology) Native to or confined to a certain region.

      It’s the second usage that I see so often in botany.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 20, 2013 at 10:22 PM

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