Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A jolt of red and yellow

with 20 comments

Firewheel with Spider-Folded Rays 2257

How’s this for a jolt of red and yellow today? The flowers are firewheels, Gaillardia pulchella, that I photographed in a planted wildflower strip along Bluegrass Dr. in my Great Hills neighborhood on April 28th. Notice—how could you not?—the spider-folded rays.

This picture is from more than five weeks ago and some firewheels have gone to seed now, but there are still plenty of freshly flowering ones in central Texas. In fact when I drove past this colony two days ago there were just as many firewheels (and other wildflowers) as before, so I stopped to do some more photographing. While I was working a man came walking toward me and introduced himself as Dave. I asked him if he’s the person who maintains the roadside colony and he said he is. He added that seeing someone stop to photograph his handiwork made his day, and now that all of you are seeing a piece of this colony his day will be made many times over.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 5, 2014 at 5:47 AM

20 Responses

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  1. Beautiful, happy colours :). Isn’t it a great feeling to make someone’s day?


    June 5, 2014 at 5:52 AM

  2. Glorious


    June 5, 2014 at 6:27 AM

  3. I am so glad we are making Dave’s day. The colours in this flower made mine.


    June 5, 2014 at 6:27 AM

  4. A perfect name for these wildly beautiful flowers!


    June 5, 2014 at 7:49 AM

    • I first knew them as Indian blankets, which is probably the most common name, but firewheel is so succinctly descriptive that I switched to that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 5, 2014 at 8:26 AM

  5. Your Gaillardia pulchella appears to be applauding itself or the fact that you have noticed its beauty and are immortalizing it.

    Steve Gingold

    June 5, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    • What a great feat of imagination to see the firewheel applauding itself—or me. I’m grateful for any plaudits that come my way, whether about flowers or by flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 5, 2014 at 3:04 PM

  6. these are in major bloom mode in my yard right now. Love how you captured the colors so perfectly!


    June 5, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    • I like the way you described it: major bloom mode. That’s continuing here too, later in the season than I remember seeing it most years. I’m glad you’re experiencing it first-hand as well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 5, 2014 at 6:09 PM

  7. I’ve seen something like this before but I just can’t remember where… hmmmm. 😉

    Midwestern Plant Girl

    June 5, 2014 at 10:08 PM

  8. As Joni Mitchell would sing it, we’ve seen Gaillardia rays from both sides, now, thanks to those enterprising spiders. I really like that detail in the photo. Some might see it as imperfection, but I think it’s interesting.

    It occurs to me that this is one flower I always hear called by its scientific name rather than by a common name. In fact, I thought for years that Gaillardia was its common name. It’s always thick down in Galveston. I need to get down there and see if the cemetery that was filled with yellow flowers a couple of years ago has started to bloom yet. Those came after Galliardia, so it’s about time.


    June 6, 2014 at 7:42 AM

    • You’re right that the folded-over rays give a much better view of the “nerves” than the rays in their normal orientation. Imperfections have their own appeal, sometimes more so than what’s considered normal (fasciation comes to mind).

      I’ve heard native plant people here refer to this wildflower as Gaillardia, but they Americanize the pronunciation to guh-lar-dee-uh. Because I know the French word gaillard, which in capitalized form was the family name of the person the genus honors, I always use the more French-style pronunciation guy-ar-dee-uh. It would never have occurred to me to say it any other way, and I was surprised when I heard people pronounce it the American way.

      Good luck with your wildflower-covered cemetery. I wish all cemeteries were like that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2014 at 10:44 AM

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