Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Tall blazing-star

with 29 comments

Liatris aspera Flowers and Buds 6743

Click for greater clarity and size.

Another thing that excited me on my visit to Bastrop State Park on September 6th was Liatris aspera, a species of blazing-star (also called gayfeather) that I’d never seen before, and one that doesn’t grow in Austin. Apparently the common name of this species is tall blazing-star, based on its relatively tall flower spikes. (The Latin species name means ‘rough,’ but I didn’t notice anything that made this species any rougher than the Liatris mucronata so common in Austin.)

The flower spike shown here was obviously leaning to the side, and I photographed just a portion of it in order to record the details in the clusters of flowers and buds. And what, you must be wondering, accounts for that rich orange background that sets off the purple flowers so well? What you’re seeing there, out of focus of course, is a patch of the sandy, iron-rich soil so characteristic of Bastrop, and once so conducive to the loblolly pines that grew there in abundance.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 13, 2013 at 5:57 AM

29 Responses

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  1. What a contrast in color! Beautiful!


    October 13, 2013 at 7:35 AM

    • The contrast really grabbed me, too, Georgette. Bastrop is the closest place to Austin where I know I can find that color of iron-rich earth. In this case it was a dirt road, and that’s why there was so large an unbroken orange expanse that I could use as a background.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2013 at 7:48 AM

  2. Beautiful flower and fantastic colors


    October 13, 2013 at 7:55 AM

  3. Very similar to the Prairie Blazing Star in Iowa.

    Jim in IA

    October 13, 2013 at 8:05 AM

    • There are quite a few species of Liatris, so I’m glad that you have one in your part of the world (something that’s not true for many of the plants I show here).

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2013 at 8:19 AM

  4. It’s a perfect autumn photo. The deep purple and orange combination is so typical of this time of year. If you hadn’t told us about the soil, I would have thought a pumpkin was in the background.


    October 13, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    • Just yesterday we were noticing the piles of variously colored pumpkins and other hard squashes heaped up in front of the nearest HEB (supermarket). It’s that time of year, all right.

      Pumpkins are cultivars of a plant presumably native to North America, but in the wild I’ve never seen anything that looks much like a pumpkin. I do know where to find iron-rich earth, however.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2013 at 11:33 AM

  5. And I was certain you had a set of screens you used behind flowers when you needed. Thanks, Margie Roe

    Margie Roe

    October 13, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    • There are photographers who carry artificial backdrops around with them, but I’ve never done that. There’s often something in nature that will serve, especially if I’m willing to lie on the ground to get the right angle.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2013 at 4:55 PM

  6. I love this horizontal arrangement and colours Steve.

    M. Firpi

    October 13, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    • Thanks, Marisa. I’m fond of an elongated composition, and that works well for a species with long flower spikes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2013 at 9:59 PM

  7. Plus de mots nouveaux pour décrire tes photos… fabuleux!


    October 14, 2013 at 5:22 AM

  8. I love this stunning photo, with its rich purple blooms framed against an orange background. For a moment I thought you may have taken this photo in Australia as so much of our country has rich, red orange soil. It certainly creates a vibrant mix of colours.

    Mary Mageau

    October 14, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    • It was that vibrant mix of colors that captivated me when I saw it through the camera’s viewfinder.

      I didn’t recall that you have so much soil of this color in Australia, but now that you say it, I remember photographs of Uluru I’ve seen.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 15, 2013 at 9:26 AM

  9. Reblogged this on Container Crazy Cathy T and commented:
    Very cool to see a different blazing star, thanks to “Portraits of Wildflowers” blog, I was able to see this one, Cathy T

    Cathy Testa

    October 15, 2013 at 4:33 AM

  10. Mom almost always had Liatris spicata in her gardens, so the various cousins are a familiar and welcome sight. This one has so much lacy delicacy. A sweet purple constellation.


    October 18, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    • I’ve yet to see Liatris spicata, which grows in many states, but apparently not in Texas. I was happy enough to make the acquaintance of this species (and the reacquaintance of the one in the following post).

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 18, 2013 at 1:29 PM

  11. […] that grows here, and that’s why I’d been excited to come across Liatris elegans and Liatris aspera when I visited Bastrop State Park in early […]

  12. Gorgeous…and what became of the Loblolly Pines?


    March 25, 2015 at 8:12 AM

    • Unfortunately 90% of the pine forest burned down in the horrendous wildfire that started on Labor Day in the drought year of 2011 and burned for several days:


      Steve Schwartzman

      March 25, 2015 at 8:17 AM

      • Oh no! I don’t think of wildfires there. Are the trees coming back at all?


        March 25, 2015 at 8:19 AM

        • Yes, they’re beginning to, both naturally and through plantings, but I won’t live to see it the way I remember it.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 25, 2015 at 8:26 AM

          • Decades ago Jens Jensen planted Scotch Pines along the Dead River. To me they were an iconic sight, there and I was attached to them. However since they are not native it was deemed necessary to remove them. When I first saw the river stripped of its trees, I was so sad and even now it looks odd to me. I am so glad I have pictures from when they were there!


            March 25, 2015 at 8:31 AM

            • Let’s hope the area will get replanted with native trees. You wouldn’t get to see them as mature trees, but your children or grandchildren would.

              Steve Schwartzman

              March 25, 2015 at 9:27 AM

              • To tell the truth, it is an area that should not have trees. The native forbs and grasses are responding nicely. Because of the glacial dune and swale structure of the area, Grass Pinks alternate with Blazing Stars and Prickly Pear.
                I did love the trees, though.


                March 25, 2015 at 9:48 AM

                • Then I withdraw my suggestion for native trees and opt for forbs, which will be swell in your swale, along with grasses for grace.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  March 25, 2015 at 9:52 AM

                • You have a way with words, Yosemite Steve.


                  March 25, 2015 at 10:52 AM

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