Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Mountain pinks growing in caliche

with 23 comments

Mountain Pinks Flowering in Caliche 4730

In the previous post you saw a buckeye butterfly in what I call the “scaffolding” beneath a bunch of mountain pink flowers—only you didn’t get to see any of those flowers. Here from June 20th along the Capital of Texas Highway is a typical view showing the way Centaurium beyrichii thrives in seemingly barren places. The kind of ground these plants are growing in is known in Texas as caliche.

Today’s photograph looks largely downward at the margin of land along the highway, but last year I aimed upward to show how these plants live up to the name mountain pink by seeming to grow right out of lofty rock.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 28, 2014 at 6:00 AM

23 Responses

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  1. These are lovely little blooms and perfect for that challenging barren spot in your natural garden.

    Steve Gingold

    July 28, 2014 at 6:14 AM

    • Mountain pinks have mastered the challenge of growing in caliche, that’s for sure. You’ll have a better (which means closer) look at mountain pink flowers next time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 28, 2014 at 7:51 AM

  2. For years, the road from my hill country get-away up to the top of the ridge looked just like this — minus the flowers. The road itself still was caliche, and it all was pretty barren. One year, these flowers started appearing along the side of the road, and they’ve been there ever since. They’re one of my favorites. Even on cloudy days, their color is remarkably vibrant, as your photo shows.


    July 28, 2014 at 6:32 AM

    • I’ve often thought it mysterious the way a species suddenly appears in a place or just as quickly disappears from a place, seemingly never to return (at least not in my viewing span). A mile or so from my home there a little limestone cliff along a neighborhood street. Two or three years ago a mountain pink suddenly appeared and flowered on the vertical face of that low cliff; I’d never seen a mountain pink there before nor have any appeared since, even though I make sure to check each June. I hope you get to visit your Hill Country ones every year, because they do have the most radiant pink of any wildflower I know here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 28, 2014 at 8:06 AM

  3. I needed that word caliche, yesterday; it would have been perfect for my game of Words with Friends. Very pretty pinks.


    July 28, 2014 at 6:40 AM

  4. I like this shot in that it affords a view of your subject because it shows a bit of the surround environs. So many of your shots are tight … it’s nice to see something more of the surrounding countryside. In this case that environment looks quite dry indeed. Has the spigot turned off for the season there in Texas? For the first time this season, here, it didn’t seem like the lawns had grown significantly since the last time I mowed – an indication that our spigot is at least slowing a bit. D


    July 28, 2014 at 6:44 AM

    • You’re right that I offer mostly tight shots so you can see the details of flowers, plants, fruits, insects, etc. The main counterbalance has been with colonies of wildflowers, where the view from farther back is colorful and appealing. I think of an environmental picture like today’s as more documentary than artistic, and you’re right that it shows people how the plants actually grow. If central Texas were more like Yellowstone or Yosemite, I’d post a lot more environmental views, but generally my approach has been to come in close and try to transcend a quotidian view. As one of my neighbors said to me about the pictures in this blog, people must think we live in a tropical paradise. That’s one validation of my attempts at transformation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 28, 2014 at 8:26 AM

  5. I like both views, downward and upward.


    July 28, 2014 at 7:05 AM

  6. Very striking, and now I have an idea what caliche is. The little girl in me is always secretly delighted when cliffs are formed by roadways. Yesterday I drove past a big tunnel being formed for a dangerous intersection near here, and enjoyed looking doowwn into the deep hole. You could see the layers of earth, and wonder what made them.


    July 28, 2014 at 8:07 AM

  7. Mother Nature painted a scene of beauty on such a harsh and difficult palate. The pinks are just gorgeous!


    July 28, 2014 at 11:44 PM

    • Then prepare to keep reveling in gorgeousness with the follow-up post, and without the barren ground.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 29, 2014 at 7:56 AM

  8. Showing us that barren can be beautiful, with the right adornment, eh?

    Susan Scheid

    August 1, 2014 at 8:59 AM

    • That’s an excellent (and alliterated) adage: barren can be beautiful.

      As has happened before, I was thinking about you just last night or this morning (I can’t remember which), wondering if you’d returned to blogland from the absence you announced some time ago, and now here you are. Welcome back.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 1, 2014 at 9:31 AM

  9. Life blooming in barren surroundings ,the contrast is a beautiful one…So many floras,you indeed have a treasure chest of simplicity,beauty,vigor and life….:)


    August 1, 2014 at 11:35 PM

    • Welcome to nature in central Texas, a semi-arid and often hot region that nevertheless has wonderful wildflowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2014 at 6:29 AM

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