Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Blue stars again

with 31 comments

Blue Stars Flowering 5174

Here’s a delicate wildflower that’s native in Austin and even grows on my western side of town but that I rarely see: Amsonia ciliata, known as blue stars. I felt fortunate to find a little group of them on undeveloped land at the corner of Old Spicewood Springs Rd. and Spicewood Springs Rd. on March 24th. (This is the same parcel where I’ve found ladies’ tresses orchids each November for the past few years.)

To see the places in the mostly southeastern United States where blue stars grow, you can check the USDA’s state-clickable map.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 30, 2014 at 6:04 AM

31 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Exquisite.


    April 30, 2014 at 6:45 AM

  2. I’m so taken with the difference in color between the ice-blue petals and the — what do you call that darker, purplish-blue part that holds the petals away from the receptacle? They remind me of evening primrose, although the primrose tend to change color as the bloom ages, rather than exhibiting this kind of contrast from the beginning. (I almost said, “This is prettier than the bluebonnet.” But of course I’d never say that. I just did? Oh.)


    April 30, 2014 at 7:18 AM

    • The word you may be after is calyx, at least for the lower part of the purplish area. It’s curious how long that purplish structure is, about as long as the flower is wide. Now I’m suddenly reminded of the two-tone cars of the 1950s.

      Given that neither you nor I grew up in Texas, people will give us leave to say that there are flowers here prettier than bluebonnets. So much attention has been paid to them at the expense of many of our other—and likewise fascinating—wildflowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 30, 2014 at 8:51 AM

  3. Just beautiful and so delicate looking!


    April 30, 2014 at 8:02 AM

  4. Wow, blue! How gorgeous.


    April 30, 2014 at 8:41 AM

  5. This one is just plain pretty … just so. D

    Pairodox Farm

    April 30, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    • You’ve reminded me that Kipling wrote a group of Just So Stories:


      Steve Schwartzman

      April 30, 2014 at 12:57 PM

      • Yup .. we’ve got a copy here at the house .. and the kids used to listen to a recorded version. My favorite is How the Rinoceros got His Skin but, truth be told, I’ve always thought it would be nice to live down by the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo river and spend my days discussing this and that with any number of Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snakes!

        Pairodox Farm

        April 30, 2014 at 2:10 PM

  6. These are lovely, ghost-like really, at least that is how you managed to capture them.


    April 30, 2014 at 3:21 PM

  7. Lovely flowers, Steve. Just wondering….I notice you often give fairly precise locations. Do you think that could be a problem for the flowers’ longevity. I know we have had serious problems here with people digging up lady’s slippers and I will no longer reveal their locations if that is not a known place…like our Mass Audubon sanctuary near hear advertises their yellow lady’s slippers so not much I can do, but there are some that I know about that are harder to find and I keep it that way. Too many folks with shovels out there.

    Steve Gingold

    April 30, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    • You raise a good question, Steve. I give locations by way of documentation (ever the teacher) and also so that people from Austin who read these posts can picture in their minds the places where I’ve found the plants growing. I’ve occasionally heard from local folks who’ve told me they appreciate that. I’d never thought about someone using my location information to go out and “steal” plants, though of course it’s possible. One thing that works against it is lag time: I take so many pictures that by the time I process one and post it here, usually at least a couple of weeks have elapsed. In the case of today’s blue stars, make that five weeks, so no more of these plants would be flowering there now. Another thing to consider is that most of the species I show are pretty common, and the loss of a few plants wouldn’t matter in any case. I haven’t yet shown a species that’s endangered or threatened.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 30, 2014 at 4:36 PM

      • That all sounds good and responsible then, Steve. Maybe it’s just folks around here. The big problem, aside from stealing plants, is that the orchids need very specific conditions as well as specific bacteria in the soil which is rarely found in someone’s backyard. So after they steal the plants, they end up dead in a year or two and wasted.

        Steve Gingold

        April 30, 2014 at 4:42 PM

        • I don’t imagine the people in Massachusetts are any more plant-thieving than the folks in Texas—but who knows? Far be it from me to cast aspersions.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 30, 2014 at 5:59 PM

  8. That is a big problem here in Illinois, as well. It kills me to keep secrets when I find something special, but around here we must. When I’m working on my pen and ink herbaria, for the rare ones I omit the location but then I question the decision. If we don’t share the location of certain plants, will the land be managed properly for them? Steve, your approach seems like a good compromise.


    May 1, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    • Given your account from Illinois and Steve Gingold’s from Massachusetts, maybe there’s more of a problem than I realized. As you say, I hope I’ve reached a good compromise and haven’t allowed people to pick or dig up any plants that shouldn’t be.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 1, 2014 at 1:59 PM

  9. quite lovely ~


    May 3, 2014 at 10:31 AM

  10. Sweet little things!


    May 5, 2014 at 3:24 PM

  11. I would really like to see these in person. Before the end of April, I went to the general area you described but didn’t see them (of course). What are the chances of getting more specifics so I can see them in person (hopefully) next year? Thanks & thank you, too, for this wonderful blog. I follow you on Bloglovin’.


    May 13, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    • You’re welcome. I’m glad you’re enjoying all these bits of nature.
      I hadn’t heard of Bloglovin’ but I looked it up.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 13, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: