Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Elbowbush flowering

with 20 comments

Elbowbush Flowering 1974

Click for greater clarity.

One of the earliest native species to flower in Austin is Forestiera pubescens, known as elbowbush and spring herald. I photographed these blossoms in Great Hills Park on February 27th.

To see the places in the southwestern United States where this member of the olive family grows, you can check the USDA’s state-clickable map.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 10, 2014 at 5:55 AM

20 Responses

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  1. Very vibrant against the blue sky.


    March 10, 2014 at 6:04 AM

    • That’s the sort of picture I’ve often posted here, but we’ve had few bright blue skies like that during this unusually cold winter. When we have had, I’ve taken advantage of them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 10, 2014 at 8:11 AM

      • So glad you have.


        March 10, 2014 at 8:24 AM

        • In 2011, the first year of this blog, Texas was in a drought. I was posting so many pictures with clear blue skies in the background that a reader in Germany complained about them.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 10, 2014 at 8:42 AM

          • Oh dear! Reminds me of another blog I follow , Lost in Arles. One of her latest posts was Turn Down the Sky http://lostinarles.blogspot.co.nz/2014/03/turn-down-sky.html So gloomy here today we could do with turning up the blue sky.


            March 10, 2014 at 9:15 PM

            • I see what you mean: lots of blue skies there, akin to what’s common here. Recently though, like you, we’ve had day after day of gloomy skies. They won’t last—I hope.

              Steve Schwartzman

              March 10, 2014 at 10:35 PM

              • The good thing about living on an island is that our weather patterns change rapidly. We can have 4 seasons in one day; brilliant blue sky in the morning and grey snow sky by the afternoon etc.


                March 11, 2014 at 12:32 AM

                • I didn’t know that living on your island gives you greater fluctuations in the weather. That may be disconcerting or it may keep you from feeling bored—or both.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  March 11, 2014 at 6:39 AM

                • Definitely both.


                  March 11, 2014 at 7:41 AM

  2. O….M…..G….. something is flowering!! There is hope yet :). Thank you for this beautiful burst of colour.


    March 10, 2014 at 6:35 AM

    • Ah yes, the yellow-and-blue of spring, very soon our forsythia will be shining like this!


      March 10, 2014 at 8:07 AM

    • You’re welcome. Several native species have started to make their usual appearances, but we’ve had recurrent freezes that have held things in check. Tomorrow you’ll see what became of this elbow bush.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 10, 2014 at 8:14 AM

      • I remember that when I was growing up in New York my mother liked to see the forsythia each spring. I’ve noticed some flowering around one house in my neighborhood for the past few weeks.

        Steve Schwartzman

        March 10, 2014 at 8:19 AM

  3. Elbow bush? Do you ever wonder how some of these plants get their names? Regardless of the name, this is a beautiful bloomer against that lovely blue sky.


    March 10, 2014 at 8:50 AM

    • Jan Wrede writes in Trees, Shrubs, and Vines of the Texas Hill Country: ” Though far from flashy, elbow bush is easy to recognize by the downward bow curve of its branches. Some even have an elbowlike bend, thus the common name.”

      I look forward to seeing these flowers each year because they come out so early. This year elbow bush was late because of the cold, but I see that the picture of it I showed last year was from February 3rd.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 10, 2014 at 10:21 AM

      • Another mystery solved, and thank you for sharing, Steve!


        March 10, 2014 at 10:25 AM

  4. When I went looking to see if this beauty grows around here, I noticed one of its common names is “Texas Forsythia”. That was exciting, because forsythia often was our first springtime flower in Iowa. Unfortunately, the USDA site doesn’t show elbowbush anywhere near Houston, but another common name,”Tanglewood”, also is the name of an old Houston subdivision. Exploration is called for!

    Is it called elbowbush because of the twig placement?


    March 10, 2014 at 8:59 AM

    • I’ve noticed how many things get named for similar things that the namers are familiar with, e.g. Texas parsley and New York.

      Although Forestiera pubescens doesn’t grow near the coast, one of my books says that F. acuminata and F. ligustrina do, with the latter flowering in late summer and fall.

      As for the name elbowbush, if you look at the reply I just made to Lynda’s comment right before yours, you’ll see the explanation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 10, 2014 at 10:30 AM

  5. Beautiful contrast


    March 10, 2014 at 9:23 AM

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