Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Sabatia campestris

with 33 comments

Sabatia campestris Flower with Raindrops 1812

Continuing with the productive April 27th field trip to Bastrop State Park led by botanist Bill Carr, here’s a pretty little wildflower I don’t often see, even though it grows in my county as well as west and east of here. It’s Sabatia campestris, known by names that include Texas star, rose gentian, meadow pink, prairie rose-gentian, and prairie sabatia.

This species inhabits the central and south-central United States, but disjoint populations have been reported in New England, as you can confirm on the USDA’s state-clickable map.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 28, 2014 at 5:13 AM

33 Responses

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  1. Beautiful. If you had a few more stars you could join in our Matariki celebration.http://www.mch.govt.nz/nz-identity-heritage/matariki You can join in, anyway, of course. Happy New Year from Aotearoa.


    June 28, 2014 at 6:06 AM

  2. That is a very attractive flower and photo.

    Jim in IA

    June 28, 2014 at 7:50 AM

  3. A stunning photo and I love the dew drops or rain?


    June 28, 2014 at 8:09 AM

    • I mentioned in some of the previous posts in this Bastrop series that we had a bit of drizzle that morning (which you can see coming down in the photo of a penstemon that appeared here two days ago). Fortunately it didn’t last long, or else I wouldn’t have been able to keep photographing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 28, 2014 at 8:58 AM

      • Both very clear photos and a drop of rain makes it sparkle.


        June 29, 2014 at 5:36 AM

        • I think the sparkle is the feature that attracts people to pictures of flowers with raindrops on them

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 29, 2014 at 8:01 AM

          • Agree, it’s all about light!


            June 30, 2014 at 12:40 PM

  4. Drizzles are not good for cameras but very good for Rose Gentian photographs. I am sure the color is quite rich anyway, but the added moisture enrichens the richness richly. It’s a lovely image of a beautiful flower.

    Steve Gingold

    June 28, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    • As a nature photographer you appreciate the danger water poses to cameras. Right after I took the penstemon picture that appeared here the day before yesterday I had to put my camera away to protect it. That marked the peak of the precipitation, which fortunately soon stopped. The water that beaded up on some of the flowers saturated their colors, which you noted in your triply rich statement. I’ve heard that some photographers carry spray containers of water with them so they can fake the effect, but I’ve never done that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 28, 2014 at 10:33 AM

      • Nupe. It’s either natural dew/raindrops or nothing. Some photographers also carry spray bottles of sugar water to attract butterflies to flowers. Another no-no in my estimation along with chilling the critters. Nature photography should be natural. I bought rain gear for my camera gear but have yet to use it.

        Steve Gingold

        June 28, 2014 at 10:41 AM

  5. Such a beauty Steve specially with the raindrops. Thanks for sharing!


    June 28, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    • You’re welcome, Chantal. I thought about you yesterday when I looked at Anne Jutras’s blog (où j’ai appris le verbe obnubiler).

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 28, 2014 at 11:11 AM

  6. Rose gentian was one of the colors in early Crayola box sets. I suspect it was part of the 64-Crayola set. That’s probably why I remember it, big boxes of crayons being a regular on my list for Santa.

    I’m astonished to hear that nature photographers are willing to create their own dew, or unnaturally sweeten a flower. I know food photographers can’t be trusted, but nature photographers? I don’t mind some cropping, sharpening and such after the fact, but really: let the subject be what it is.

    This one’s especially pretty, and new to me. I’m finding the scientific names easier all the time. I looked at this one and thought, campesino. As for Sabatia and stars, I see that Florida has a species [p.587] called Sabatia stellaris. I thought this was interesting:

    “Mrs. William Dana Starr wrote in 1900 that the inhabitants of Plymouth were convinced that the Pilgrims of 1620 named the plant Sabatia after the Sabbath; they maintained that was the holy day on which they first saw the flower, and that ‘‘strong objections are made if any other flowers are irreverently mingled with it
    in church decorations,’’


    June 28, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    • Now that you mention it, I think I remember the crayon labeled “rose gentian,” even though I probably haven’t thought about that for more than 50 years.

      Yes, some photographers do the things mentioned. I know one who admits to having used a false backdrop, and not even just a uniformly dark one, but one that has a nature scene already on it. Who’d have believed it?

      In the text that you linked to for Sabatia stellaris, I find it interesting that the two American Indian names given for the wildflower both involve stars. I suspect those native names originated after contact with Europeans (and the Americans they became) because I don’t know that other cultures would have connected our stylized type of star with an actual star.

      I was also suspicious of a claim that “the inhabitants of Plymouth were convinced that the Pilgrims of 1620 named the plant Sabatia after the Sabbath.” Or let’s say that even if inhabitants of Plymouth in the 1800s believed that, it could hardly have been true, because the Plymouth Colony was established in 1620 and Linnaeus wasn’t even born till 1707. I checked my Shinners and Mahler’s Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas and confirmed my suspicions. The genus Sabatia was named after Liberato Sabbati, an Italian botanist who was born sometime around 1714. Whether Sabbati’s family name had been taken from the Sabbath I don’t know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 29, 2014 at 7:58 AM

  7. That is superb, Steve


    June 30, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    • Yes, it would be hard not to like this bright little wildflower. Too bad I don’t see it more often.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 30, 2014 at 2:54 PM

  8. Amazing specimen! You always surprise me with the new and unexpected in nature, Steve.


    July 7, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    • I’m happy that I can keep surprising myself, too. I’d seen this species before, but not that often. One good thing about this field trip is that I got to view (and photograph, of course) species that were new to me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 7, 2014 at 12:31 PM

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