Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Downy gaura and downy cloud

with 6 comments

Downy Gaura Flowers and Buds 1806

Still another thing I photographed on August 6th at a sump on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin was this wildflower known as downy gaura and velvetleaf gaura, based on the plant’s fuzziness. I’ve known this wildflower as Gaura parviflora (and previously as Gaura mollis), but in looking at a recent version of Bill Carr’s plant list for Travis County I was surprised to find that molecular analysis has led botanists to move all the species of Gaura (as well as those of Stenosiphon and Calylophus) into the genus Oenothera. Downy gaura is Oenothera curtiflora in the new classification.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman


I’m out of town for a while. Of course you’re welcome to leave comments, but please understand if it takes me longer than usual to respond.


Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 27, 2014 at 5:30 AM

6 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Oh, there they go again. I remember some botanist telling me it was better to learn the latin, because those names are consistent. Ha! But actually, I can see where they are coming from, in a gestalt kind of way.
    I love how you have captured this with a cloud creating an “X” with the flower raceme.


    September 27, 2014 at 8:04 AM

    • So much for consistency and permanence, right? All right, I understand that genetic research continues to reveal many things, and I’m glad for the new knowledge even if it causes some temporary inconvenience. Thanks for noticing how the cloud tilts one way, and the gaura primarily the other. As people have said, X marks the spot.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 28, 2014 at 12:55 AM

  2. A drama in one very short act:

    Cloud: “Where did summer go?”
    Gaura (pointing): “It went that-a-way.”
    Cloud: “Can I catch it?”
    Gaura: “Maybe, if you get really cirrus about it.”

    (Cloud departs, Gaura continues to bloom.)


    September 27, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    • Speaking of clouds, I saw some delightful ones over the last few days, including the first part of Saturday, but then a lot of dark ones that poured down rain on and off for the rest of the day an made driving not at all delightful. I expect the plants loved it, even if I didn’t.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 28, 2014 at 1:01 AM

  3. Thanks for the heads’ up about the classification change. No, I hadn’t seen that yet. (Sigh.) Keeping up with all the name changes is a nuisance…but I do hate to appear to be behind the times! LOL!

    I have this plant in the yard, in the “wild areas,” and I love the texture of the leaves. They are SO soft and velvety. There is a rather interesting group of insects that is often associated with velvetleaf gaura, too – including caterpillars of the clouded crimson moth, a species of flea beetle, and stilt bugs. The latter seem to congregate on the blooms to mate – rather like prairie chickens on a lek.

    Cynthia, aka Gaia gardener

    September 28, 2014 at 3:13 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: