Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Another wildflower in winter

with 46 comments

Velvetleaf Mallow Flower 1198

From late in the afternoon on December 26th, 2014, at the Arbor Walk Pond, here is a flower of Allowissadula holosericea, known as velvetleaf mallow. The species name holosericea means ‘all silky,’ a characteristic you can confirm in the contour of soft hairs rendered conspicuous by the backlighting of the soon-to-set sun.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 3, 2015 at 5:11 AM

46 Responses

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  1. Very gentle low light in winter, beautiful.

    Emma Sarah Tennant

    January 3, 2015 at 5:36 AM

    • Hello, Emma. This wildflower was all the more valuable for being in winter (even if our winters are much milder than yours in the UK).

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 3, 2015 at 7:42 AM

  2. Engaging capture with back lighting…


    January 3, 2015 at 8:11 AM

  3. I don’t remember seeing this particular blue-green (almost teal) as a background in any of your photos. It’s lovely, and beautifully complements the color in the sepals (?). After days of drizzle, rain, and near-zero visibility because of fog, it’s a welcome sight.


    January 3, 2015 at 9:00 AM

    • I also noticed the unusual background color, but I don’t know why the out-of-focus vegetation came out the way that it did.

      According to Geyata Ajilvsgi in Wildflowers of Texas, in the petal~sepal~tepal contest, the winner for velvetleaf mallow is petal, of which there are five yellow-orange ones. Reference books are great (except when a piece of information is nowhere to be found or when a statement in one source contradicts a statement in another).

      I wanted to go back the day after I took this late-afternoon picture, but the weather over the next two days was bad. Finally we had some sun on the 29th and I returned, as you’ll see next time and two days later.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 3, 2015 at 9:38 AM

  4. A wonderful photo, Steve. The peach accents the green-blue background so nicely. It also makes a nice counterpoint to the dusting of snow I awoke to this morning.


    January 3, 2015 at 9:04 AM

    • Thanks, Melissa. If only we’d gotten a dusting of snow here on the 26th, I could’ve photographed it on this flower; that would’ve been an unusual bit of counterpoint.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 3, 2015 at 9:57 AM

      • I’ll gladly send you some! 🙂


        January 3, 2015 at 10:00 AM

        • Please do, but set it to last only long enough for some good picture-taking. We’re supposed to get to 60° and some sunshine this afternoon.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 3, 2015 at 10:37 AM

          • That sounds wonderful. Enjoy! I just got back in from mucking around in my new Muck Boots. I love them and it is fun to slop through slush without worrying about wet feet. But my son and I do discuss Texas when we are dreaming about where we might one day want to be. In our own houses, of course! 🙂


            January 3, 2015 at 3:50 PM

  5. I love its hairy silhouette. Colors are fantastic as well.


    January 3, 2015 at 12:27 PM

    • On the first count, I can confirm that it takes after its photographer.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 3, 2015 at 1:01 PM

    • I’m coming back, because I really do love this shot. So pretty! Been away from blogging. Crazy busy with home school. I have dreamt of this flower.


      January 15, 2015 at 4:23 PM

      • You’re welcome to come back and visit whenever you get the chance.

        Steve Schwartzman

        January 15, 2015 at 4:33 PM

        • Well, then how about a third time? This really is one of my favorite flower portraits on your blog. And it doesn’t even have an insect on it.


          February 5, 2016 at 7:25 PM

  6. So beautiful. I love the outline of light here as well as the near horizontal position of the flower. This is really nice. 🙂


    January 3, 2015 at 1:02 PM

    • By then the sun had sunk almost behind the buildings and terrain across the way (in fact it disappeared a few minutes later), so the low angle of the light lit up the contours of the mallow.

      We tend to think of flowers rising from a plant, but it’s fairly common for flower-bearing branches to go sideways as well. I was happy to put the horizontal orientation to good use here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 3, 2015 at 1:10 PM

      • Plants are opportunists. Several of my Orchids have grown their spikes out horizontally, and there are plenty of species (though I don’t have any) whose flowers are pendant. Nice that you chose this orientation.

        You know I may have guessed that was a morning or early afternoon shot. I think I’d be excited once the sun was down that I got the shot!!


        January 3, 2015 at 1:32 PM

        • Plants are definitely opportunists, and sometimes photographers are too. I’d gotten a late start that afternoon and I’d already spent time walking all the way around the pond and photographing a few other things when I happened upon the mallow. I used the remaining three or four minutes of light to take a bunch of pictures, some of which didn’t turn out well, but one success is all that matters.

          Your mention of pendant flowers reminded me that those are especially common in grasses, but they’re so small that many people don’t recognize them:


          Steve Schwartzman

          January 3, 2015 at 1:45 PM

          • So true, photographers are opportunists by trade! And yes that “money shot” can be all you need for the day.

            That’s an interesting picture for sure! There’s a lot of plants that have flowers that do not resemble flowers. Then there’s those flowers that actually stink, which I’m learning is not exactly uncommon in Orchids. Nor is it uncommon for flowers not to smell at all. They’re all so different, just makes them even cooler!


            January 3, 2015 at 7:56 PM

            • As you say, flowers come in a huge diversity of shapes, sizes, components, colors, and smells. The more for me to photograph.

              Steve Schwartzman

              January 3, 2015 at 8:55 PM

  7. You couldn’t ask for better lighting! Beautiful shot Steve!

    Michael Glover

    January 3, 2015 at 2:01 PM

    • Thanks, Michael. I lucked out with the lighting, but I had to be quick to use it before it disappeared a few minutes later.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 3, 2015 at 2:22 PM

  8. Happy New Year Steve. A beautiful piece, outlined in refracted light.


    January 3, 2015 at 2:02 PM

    • It’s great that Austin is far enough south that we have a few wildflowers even this early in the calendar year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 3, 2015 at 2:25 PM

  9. Outstanding effort Steve……en theos…j

    Developing A New Image

    January 3, 2015 at 5:40 PM

  10. Truly amazing…Love the subtle back lighting and the color is stunning.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    January 3, 2015 at 7:12 PM

    • I’d say I managed to get a good combination of form, lighting, and color in this one. Not bad for a flower in winter.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 3, 2015 at 8:58 PM

  11. wow


    January 3, 2015 at 8:41 PM

  12. Very nice.


    January 3, 2015 at 9:48 PM

  13. Beautiful!


    January 3, 2015 at 11:19 PM

  14. Love the backlight!!!!


    January 4, 2015 at 3:54 PM

  15. It’s not just the flower, it is the flower in the light. Beautiful, Steve!


    January 4, 2015 at 5:29 PM

    • Hi, Lynn. I agree that the two things worked well together here. I definitely lucked out on the timing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 4, 2015 at 7:33 PM

  16. What a marvel. So striking against the backlighting, and yet so delicate and tender looking.


    January 4, 2015 at 9:17 PM

    • The extent to which the low light lit up the contour of fine hairs surprised me, but of course as a photographer I welcomed that kind of surprise.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 4, 2015 at 10:18 PM

  17. Wonderful…


    March 31, 2016 at 6:37 AM

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