Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Angel’s trumpet

with 35 comments

Angel's Trumpet Flower 0588

Have you ever seen as long and slender a floral tube as the one on this wildflower? It’s Mirabilis longiflora, called angel’s trumpet, and I photographed it at the Rio Grande Nature Center in Albuquerque on September 24th.

A couple of years ago I showed a species of Mirabilis that’s native in central Texas.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 2, 2014 at 5:37 AM

35 Responses

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  1. longiflora, indeed. Lovely image, Steve. The illumination here is superb.

    Steve Gingold

    November 2, 2014 at 6:07 AM

    • Right you are, Steve: whoever chose the species name longiflora wasn’t kidding.

      I took pictures of this flower around 10 o’clock in the morning, and most of the photographs include conspicuous background details. The last two images (of which this was one) came out noticeably darker, though still with some distracting background details visible. I found that by choosing high contrast and then reducing the highlight slider, both in Adobe Camera Raw, the background turned the way you see it here: mostly black, but still with a faint green tinge that’s visible if you look carefully.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 2, 2014 at 5:51 AM

      • Sometimes, reducing the clarity slider will help soften the background detail without harming the subject….sometimes. I also use Nik filters and using the Tonal Contrast tool to reduce the shadows contrast helps with that also.

        Steve Gingold

        November 2, 2014 at 5:57 AM

        • I’ve noticed (and have sometimes taken advantage of) what you say about reducing the clarity slider, but as you also pointed out, that runs the risk of harming the subject. One way around the problem is to process the image twice, once with low clarity for the background, again with normal or higher clarity for the subject, and then selectively blending the two versions.

          I’ve seen plenty of references to Nik filters but haven’t ever tried them out.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 2, 2014 at 6:04 AM

  2. It’s angelic. Did you have to lie down on the ground to take this one, as you did for the 4 o’clocks?


    November 2, 2014 at 6:35 AM

  3. Dramatic … to be sure. Nicely done. D

    Pairodox Farm

    November 2, 2014 at 7:30 AM

    • We’ll make that D for dramatically done (and it could be D for diagonally designed as well).

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 2, 2014 at 7:41 AM

  4. Lovely portrait…


    November 2, 2014 at 7:40 AM

    • I’m thankful for the chance to portray it; that’s what a trip to a different part of the country will do.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 2, 2014 at 7:44 AM

  5. There surely are a lot of angels with a wide variety of trumpets. I expected something quite different, like this. But the jimson weed, aka angel trumpet, belongs to Solanaceae, as do many of the angel trumpet cultivars, and this is Nyctaginaceae — if I have it right. Ah, the perils of common names!

    It’s a beauty, and actually more trumpet-like than some of the others. It certainly resembles the Dallas Arboretum trumpets. And yes: that greenish background is very nice.


    November 2, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    • You’re right that many tubular flowers have been called trumpets (as well as bells, and in fact the part of a musical trumpet where the sound comes out is called the bell). I recognized the trumpets at the Dallas Arboretum as being by Chihuly, a couple of whose pieces I saw at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

      You have those vowel-crazy botanical family names right. I’m wondering why Nyctaginaceae was named the way it was, because nyct- is from the Greek word for ‘night.’ Perhaps some flowers in this family open at night.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 2, 2014 at 11:04 AM

      • They do open at night — or at least late afternoon. Hence, the common name, “Four o’clock.” There’s a nice article about one variety here. He mentions the size of the tuber. A friend’s parents brought some variety of four o’clock from a ranch in central Texas and planted it in an old tomato patch that had been very well fertilized. By the time they tried to dig it out, years later, the plants were six feet tall, and it took two men to dig the biggest tubers out of the ground. I remember seeing photos of one that was about twice the size of a basketball.


        November 2, 2014 at 12:23 PM

        • Do you know if the flowers that open at four o’clock stay open well into (or all through) the night? All the four o’clock flowers I’ve seen have been open in the morning or early afternoon.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 2, 2014 at 12:57 PM

          • And, that article answers your question. It seems “your bloom time may vary.”


            November 2, 2014 at 1:01 PM

          • I found it interesting that “Although often found in Mexico and the South on old garden sites, this species [Mirabilis jalapa] is no longer found in the wild in Mexico.”

            It’s also surprising to read that Thomas Jefferson cultivated Mirabilis longiflora, the very species in today’s post.

            Steve Schwartzman

            November 2, 2014 at 1:30 PM

  6. What a perfect name for the flower – gorgeous shot


    November 2, 2014 at 1:49 PM

  7. Stunning shot. 😀

    Raewyn's Photos

    November 2, 2014 at 2:04 PM

  8. Lovely, lovely, a gorgeous shot with a perfect profile!


    November 2, 2014 at 3:28 PM

  9. stunning as always


    November 3, 2014 at 4:47 AM

  10. Mirabilis seems might fitting, too.


    November 3, 2014 at 2:18 PM

  11. What an amazing flower!


    November 5, 2014 at 8:20 PM

  12. Think of the pollinator’s tongue! This photo, Steve. Wow.


    November 19, 2014 at 9:46 AM

    • That’s a good flight of fancy about the pollinator’s tongue. I wonder if insects or other pollinators get what they want from the exserted (i.e. sticking out) stamens.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 19, 2014 at 9:50 AM

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