Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Firecracker penstemon

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Firecracker Penstemon Flowers 2676

One wildflower that was hard to miss when I visited the botanical garden in Tucson named Tohono Chul on October 1, 2014, was Penstemon eatonii, known understandably as firecracker penstemon.

(While the weather is mostly cold and bleak in Austin, I’ve gone back to showing you some more of the many pictures I took on my two-week trip to the American Southwest last autumn.)

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 10, 2015 at 5:31 AM

24 Responses

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  1. They certainly brighten the day (or night as it is here).


    January 10, 2015 at 6:13 AM

  2. I finally read the guide to Tohono Chul, trying to find the meaning of the name. Finally, on page ten, I found this: “The words “Tohono Chul” mean “desert corner,” and are taken from the language of the Tohono O’odham, a desert-dwelling people renowned for their many uses of Sonoran plants and their ability to live in this harsh climate.”

    Any corner of the world that’s decorated with this would be improved, that’s for sure.


    January 10, 2015 at 8:34 AM

    • I probably should have given the meaning of the Indian name, but now you’ve done it for me.

      I chose to take relative closeups, but the penstemon bushes had many more flowers than this on them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 10, 2015 at 9:42 AM

  3. Today’s portraits remind me of hummingbirds flitting into and out of the penstemon on my garden’s hills. Thanks for the reminder–I do stop and think about the warmth of spring, summer and autumn days as the frigid temps converge on the East Coast. Stay warm with your archives.


    January 10, 2015 at 9:10 AM

    • I like your notion of staying warm with my archives, and in fact “Archival Warmth” sounds like a great name for some product or service. Actually I have been going through my archives this morning, the purpose being to put together a selection pictures to submit to a magazine for possible inclusion in its annual spring wildflower issue. Outside my window there’s intermittent light rain and the temperature is flirting with freezing. If we get any accumulation of ice, I may have to steel myself and go out to see what I can do with my camera.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 10, 2015 at 9:48 AM

  4. Nothing like floral firecrackers to heat up the day.


    January 10, 2015 at 9:15 AM

  5. This flower is just gorgeous! I could easily fall in love with it!


    January 10, 2015 at 10:18 PM

  6. We have something very similar growing here but I am sure it is an introduced species. I can’t even remember the name of it to tell you. When I was a child I would pluck the flowers and insert them inside each other to make a long chain. This brings back memories of those carefree childhood activities. It’s a lovely colour!


    January 10, 2015 at 10:21 PM

    • I’m glad this brought back fond memories of childhood for you. Some of the plants I grew up with in New York were introduced species, but I didn’t know anything about that then. Most notable among them was the dandelion, whose seed globes children like to blow on.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 10, 2015 at 11:23 PM

  7. Firecracker certainly is appropriate for this flower. Also, they remind me of some little hot chilies I almost bought when shopping the other day. Probably just as well I did not buy any.
    These have to be great hummingbird attractors.

    Steve Gingold

    January 11, 2015 at 5:20 AM

    • You guessed it. According to the entry for this species at the website of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, “Penstemon eatonii attracts hummingbirds to its tubular red flowers.” I didn’t happen to see any, but that’s beside the point.

      Perhaps when it’s chilly people’s thoughts turn to chili.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 11, 2015 at 5:31 AM

      • It’s one of my winter lunch staples. An old navy recipe (given to me by an old sailor)…ratcheted down to enough for just a dozen rather than a ship’s crew…and very warming.

        Steve Gingold

        January 11, 2015 at 5:38 AM

        • To my delicate mouth, eating chilies can feel like eating staples. You’re fortunate to have a hardier palate.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 11, 2015 at 5:43 AM

          • At one time, the hottest of chilies was not hard to take. I am now only able to consume medium hot chilies in salsa and chili. Capsicum has some beneficial medical properties, although the full extent of those is not known or proven.
            I have to eat anything with hot spicy fumes alone as they make Mary Beth gag.

            Steve Gingold

            January 11, 2015 at 5:49 AM

  8. On a cold, gray, winter day like today I think the subject of your blog is perfect…I really need to see a little color.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    January 11, 2015 at 9:38 PM

  9. those are gorgeous; i often think of people who are red/green color deficient and all the brilliant displays that they miss… and every now and then i wonder if we are all color deficient and don’t know the hues that we’re missing!

    heading home soon where there’s no internet option at this time.. i look forward to catching up when i’m back in town! it’s always a joy to see your posts.


    Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    January 21, 2015 at 9:01 AM

    • You speak well when you say you “wonder if we are all color deficient and don’t know the hues that we’re missing!” That’s literally true because our eyes can’t see even the near infrared and near ultraviolet that some other creatures can, much less frequencies farther afield. Likewise for sounds and physical sensations.

      Sorry you’re cut off from the Internet at home, Lisa, but glad you at least have access in town. Inevitably I think technology will provide a way for there to be permanent connectivity everywhere.

      Thanks again for appreciating these nature posts.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 21, 2015 at 10:36 AM

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