Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Rock flax

with 20 comments

Rock Flax Flower by Mountain Pink Flowers 3702

Click for greater clarity and larger size.

Let’s carry over the yellow and pink color scheme from the last post. Quite close to one of the flowering mountain pinks, Centaurium beyrichii, was this rock flax flower, Linum rupestre. You can’t judge scale from this photograph, so let me add that a rock flax flower is small, typically little more than a third of an inch (8 mm) across.

This June 15th picture of rock flax, a species making its debut here today, comes from a property at FM 1431 and Brahma Ln. on the west side of Lago Vista.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 31, 2014 at 5:54 AM

20 Responses

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  1. Very pretty and delicate and “If you touch the flower too roughly the whole corolla falls off as if it were hardly attached. The technical term for such loosely connected corollas is “fugacious.”


    Fugacious, farinaceous……such lovely words.


    July 31, 2014 at 6:20 AM

    • I don’t think I’ve witnessed fugacity with this species, but I have noticed it plenty of times with other native flax species. Yes, fugacious is a fun word: just drop it and farinaceous into casual conversation at your next get-together and see what sorts of reactions you get. I recognize fugacious from French fugace and Spanish fugaz, both of which mean ‘fleeting.’ The etymological sense is ‘fleeing,’ and we find the Latin root in words like refuge and fugue (in which a musical theme keeps “fleeing” from one voice or instrument to another).

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 31, 2014 at 7:30 AM

      • I must check if any of my flowers are fugacious. Your use of the word fugue reminds me that another blogger introduced me to the word dromomania, also known as travelling fugue.


        July 31, 2014 at 8:36 AM

        • If you notice any of your flowers running down the road that’ll be a sure sign that they’re fugacious. It might also mean that they’re afflicted with traveling fugue, a.k.a. dromomania. Bach’s music has made it around the world, so some of his pieces are traveling fugues.

          This is a morning (here) for fun words.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 31, 2014 at 9:04 AM

          • If I see some of my flowers running down the road, it will mean they have been fleeced; which word has nothing to do with fugue but it seems as though it should.


            August 1, 2014 at 6:07 AM

            • I’d say the sound of the word fleece has fleeced you into thinking it’s related to flee.

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 1, 2014 at 7:19 AM

              • Indeed, but as long as it has nothing to do with my arch enemy the Flea, I am okay with fleece (and flee).


                August 1, 2014 at 8:25 AM

                • We call the insect a flea because we wish it would flee from us. (Okay, not really, but it sounds good.)

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  August 1, 2014 at 8:30 AM

                • Well, you may not be far wrong with that. One source for Flea says perhaps it is from Old English fleon, to flee.


                  August 1, 2014 at 8:54 AM

                • There’s not always scholarly agreement on etymology, of course. I checked the American Heritage Dictionary, whose etymologies I rely on, and found that it traces flee back to the Indo-European root pleu- but doesn’t trace flea back to that (or any other) Indo-European root, so there’s one vote in the negative.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  August 1, 2014 at 11:49 AM

                • Indeed. And after all this talk of fugues, fleeces and fleas, it is time for me to do something practical….put the anti-flea potion on the dog!


                  August 1, 2014 at 8:07 PM

  2. Nicely done, Steve. I like your composition, the crop and the color combination. Sweet.

    Steve Gingold

    July 31, 2014 at 6:33 AM

    • My sensor has a ratio of 3:2, and at first I cropped from that to a mildly elongated 2:1. That version is all right esthetically, but the rock flax flower would be pretty small when posted at blog size, so I decided to get even more extreme, as you see here, with a ratio of about three and a half to one. That also makes the image more abstract, and I’m fond of abstractions.

      I don’t recall seeing something as elongated as this in any of the pictures on your blog: have you ever gone with such extreme cropping ratios?

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 31, 2014 at 7:45 AM

      • Not often but on a few occasions, Steve. I’ll keep that in mind and see if I can share an extreme crop sometime in the future. As you have shown so well here, there is no reason we must use an entire capture. Artistically it is our choice what we use and discard.

        Steve Gingold

        July 31, 2014 at 7:50 AM

  3. At first glance, it reminds me of a Carolina buttercup. At second glance, it’s quite a different plant, with only the “yellow” and “five petals” in common. I’m still having trouble with petals, sepals and tepals. I decided on petals, here. Is that right?


    July 31, 2014 at 6:50 AM

    • You’re not alone in trying to distinguish among those three categories. When I’m in doubt (which is usually) I turn to my reference books. It turns out that you’re right and the yellow segments in this flower really are petals; in addition there are sepals beneath them that aren’t visible in this view. You’re also correct that the Carolina buttercup is rather different and belongs to another botanical family altogether.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 31, 2014 at 7:57 AM

  4. OK … now for a properly presented comment! This is another classic Schwartzman … pleasing color balance, great composition, and tack-sharp focus. D

    Pairodox Farm

    July 31, 2014 at 2:19 PM

  5. […] a special note for Steve, at Portrait of Wildflowers, who teaches me new words, almost daily: the corolla of my  michelia […]

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