Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Mexican hat at the shopping mall

with 41 comments

Mexican Hat Flower Head Against Sky 6057

In yesterday’s prairie picture you saw bunches of wildflowers, including some Mexican hats, Ratibida columnifera. Here’s a much closer look at one from May 10th at the Lakeline Mall shopping center in Cedar Park. Various wildflowers spring up spontaneously on undeveloped parts of the mall property, something I’ve been taking advantage of in my photography for a decade now. I showed one example of that two years ago:


In today’s closeup, notice the Mexican hat’s curved stalk, a feature that doesn’t predominate in this species but that’s not rare either. Although the picture is from a month and a half ago, Mexican hat colonies are still prominent around Austin in this first week of summer.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 23, 2014 at 5:58 AM

41 Responses

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  1. A very elegant hat. But like the blue bonnet, I am glad the real hats are a little bigger. More comfortable to wear that way.


    June 23, 2014 at 6:19 AM

  2. Just beautiful!!!

  3. Reblogged this on My Choice and commented:
    Just Beautiful. Pictured by Steven Schwartzman!!!

  4. Oh! Glorious! I especially like that subtle little curve in the flower head that echoes the curve of the stem. Apart from that, it’s a beautiful natural example of the combination of curved and perpendicular that shows up elsewhere: candleholders, banana holders on kitchen counters, Calder mobiles. And then there’s that Fibonacci thing going on.

    Apart from all that, it’s beautiful. The blue sky’s an especially nice background for this one, I think.


    June 23, 2014 at 7:06 AM

    • I like the Fibonacci thing, too. The orange-blue combination is striking. Plus, the small touch of green is nice.

      Jim in IA

      June 23, 2014 at 7:19 AM

      • While you were writing this I was answering the previous comment and said a little more about Fibonacci numbers. Now I’ll really have to look at some Mexican hats more closely.

        Steve Schwartzman

        June 23, 2014 at 7:24 AM

    • You won’t be surprised to hear that I agree with you about the blue background, which does such a good job of complementing the brown, red, and yellow of the Mexican hat’s rays. You also read my mind about “that Fibonacci thing”: last night I looked at this picture and realized I’ve never tried to count the rows of spirals on any of these seed columns to find out for sure if they’re Fibonacci numbers, which is what I assume. (That’s not always the case with plants: years ago I counted spirals of spines on a cactus and got numbers that were two times the standard Fibonacci numbers.) And it’s good of you to notice the way the column on this Mexican hat is slightly curved. I don’t know how common that is, but I’ll try to be more observant while there are still large numbers of Mexican hat flowers around.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2014 at 7:22 AM

  5. Perfect name for a really cool looking flower! I love it 😃


    June 23, 2014 at 7:52 AM

    • Not only cool looking, but quite common here: even after the conspicuous colonies of them fade, individual plants here and there can be found flowering through the summer and fall, usually till December.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2014 at 8:07 AM

  6. Beautiful – so fun to see ‘new’ to me flowers and plants-


    June 23, 2014 at 8:33 AM

    • Yes, so very different from the flora of British Columbia. I’m glad to see you’re enjoying your continuing exposure to the species that grow in Texas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2014 at 3:12 PM

  7. That is a really interesting name and pretty obvious how it got it. Are the flowers opening from bottom to top or the reverse? Really cool Fibonacci patterning.
    So these Mexican Hat colonies…is that required attire for all residents?

    Steve Gingold

    June 23, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    • The ray flowers (which are the colorful ones) seem to all develop at the base at around the same time. The disk flowers, which are the more numerous and much tinier ones that surround the column, are opening here from the bottom up, and I’ve seen that in other heads of this species, but I’m not sure that’s always the case.

      The attire is definitely required, even if the balance of colors in the ray flowers is variable.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      • It was the disk flowers I was curious about. The upper cone seems pretty fresh and I thought the process would lead upward as is the case in most flowers..spikes especially…but there are always exceptions.

        Steve Gingold

        June 23, 2014 at 3:43 PM

        • I’m going to look more carefully the next time I see a colony of these. If I notice any exceptions to the direction in which the disk flowers open I’ll let you know.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 23, 2014 at 3:52 PM

  8. Oh that’s fabulous! Reminds me a bit of the cone flower. Love the velvety petals 🙂

    • Some people call this a prairie coneflower, but the math teacher in me rebels because the central column is no cone. Another vernacular name that’s more accurate is thimbleflower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2014 at 3:36 PM

  9. Love it. Gorgeous shot. The intensity and crispness of color, shape and bold composition combine for one fiery image. Hurray!


    June 23, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    • I like your description, K.I. This is one wildflower I believe you have in abundance in north-central Texas, and it seems a likely candidate for you to portray. I did a search on your blog for “Mexican hat” but all the hits seemed to be about (presumably Mexican) food.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2014 at 3:42 PM

  10. Yup … like it, very much. D

    Pairodox Farm

    June 23, 2014 at 2:51 PM

  11. Wow, so sharp. Strange and beautiful.


    June 23, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    • It’s relative, Bente. For people in Texas, this is a wildflower that’s quite common—some even consider it a weed—and can be found blooming in large quantities in May and June, and then at least in small quantities for the next half-year. You must have many species that would seem strange and exotic to us over here.

      As so often before, I’ll give the credit for sharpness to my 100mm macro lens.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2014 at 4:53 PM

  12. That is such a fascinating plant, the photo is superb. I am going to look this up on the internet to get more detail.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    June 23, 2014 at 5:47 PM

  13. Gorgeous photo!


    June 24, 2014 at 10:57 PM

  14. Nice light and detail.


    June 26, 2014 at 8:51 AM

  15. […] head of a clasping-leaf coneflower, Dracopis amplexicaulis. You might think you’re seeing a Mexican hat or perhaps a brown-eyed susan, which does look similar except that here the “eye” is […]

  16. […] Two posts back you saw an early stage in the disintegration of a sensitive briar inflorescence. Now, from the greenbelt off Taylor Draper Lane on October 7th, here’s a much later stage of a different species, Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera). If you’d like a reminder of what a fresh Mexican hat flower head looks like, you can revisit a post from 2014. […]

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