Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Trout lily in dappled light

with 25 comments

Trout Lily Flower 8815

I hope you’ve been enjoying the pictures from New Zealand, but I’m going to interrupt that sequence for a little while to catch you up on what’s been happening in central Texas, which you can summarize in one word: spring.

On March 13th I drove out with Nan Hampton to her country place near Lometa, which is in Lampasas County about an hour and a half north-northwest of Austin. The main botanical purpose for my going out there was to see the trout lilies (also called dogtooth violets), Erythronium albidum, that were coming up. For years I’d noticed the entry in Marshall Enquist’s Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country but had never seen the plant in the wild, so this was an opportunity to check off one more species from that book.

Bill Carr describes this native perennial as “a striking spring wildflower of forested areas of eastern North America, here at or near the southwestern limit of its range. Rare in oak-juniper woodlands on mesic limestone slopes.” I’ll add that trout lilies typically grow in the underbrush and stay pretty close to the ground, so photographing them meant I had to get close to the ground too and gingerly push aside low branches. Another difficulty was the dappled sunlight coming through the underbrush, but rather than try to work around it, which probably would have been impossible, I lived with the dappling and incorporated it into my portraits, along with artifacts created by the interaction of the bright spots of light with the glass elements in the camera’s lens. You know what they say: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. This time you can consider me a joiner.

Note in the lower left a part of one of the trout lily’s characteristically mottled leaves.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 26, 2015 at 5:05 AM

25 Responses

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  1. Lovely and quite painterly. Our trout lilies are yellow, but the shape and droop are the same.

    Steve Gingold

    March 26, 2015 at 5:17 AM

    • Painterly sounds good to me.

      I assume your trout lilies are equally un-trout-like. To find out, I just searched your blog for “trout” but the only posts that turned up only mentioned trout lilies without showing any.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 26, 2015 at 7:46 AM

      • I might post one but am not as pleased as I might be with the current lot. Nothing fishy about them.

        Steve Gingold

        March 26, 2015 at 3:57 PM

        • If you’re not pleased with the current lot then it seems better to hold off until the right opportunity comes your way.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 26, 2015 at 4:05 PM

  2. Glad you made the special trip to photograph this beauty.


    March 26, 2015 at 7:30 AM

  3. It’s an eloquent sign of Spring. I always wondered why so many early flowers are face down. Does it protect from seesaw weather? I thought that I’d ask the man with the expertise. (I didn’t call you an expert.).


    March 26, 2015 at 9:17 AM

    • I’m afraid my expertise is more in photography than botany, Sally. If any people with a background in botany read your question, I hope they’ll post an answer.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 26, 2015 at 11:43 AM

  4. So delicate – this would make a gorgeous table lamp in bronze and coloured glass.


    March 26, 2015 at 9:35 AM

    • Shades [note the pun] of Tiffany and Art Nouveau [which after more than a century isn’t nouveau anymore]. If you have the requisite skills for such a lamp, go for it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 26, 2015 at 11:45 AM

      • Sigh… sadly not. But yes, you are correct, it did bring to mind the Art Nouveau period.


        March 26, 2015 at 1:37 PM

  5. I’m speechless~ you’ve created a masterpiece with this trout lily. It would make a gorgeous table lamp, wouldn’t it? I immediately popped over to your shop but didn’t see it yet…


    March 26, 2015 at 10:21 AM

  6. Whoosh, a real beauty!


    March 26, 2015 at 12:42 PM

  7. Lovely. The colours are gorgeous.

    Raewyn's Photos

    March 26, 2015 at 2:03 PM

  8. On the other hand, you’ve followed a post about the New Zealand bellbird with a beauty that easily could be called a bell flower instead of a dogtooth violet. Not only that, it seems from this diagram I found in a chapter on continuous random variables (?!) that its outline could qualify as a bell curve.

    I think I remember you talking about them in the past, wishing that you could add their portrait to your album. Search and ye shall find, as the saying goes. I’m glad you found them — they really are lovely.


    March 26, 2015 at 8:30 PM

    • How nice that botany and a bellbird turned your thoughts to the bell curve. I’ve heard of flowers being described as trumpet-shaped, and musicians call the flaring part of a trumpet the bell. How trout and dogs’ teeth fit into all this I don’t know, but artifacts of light certainly made their way in.

      Actually there is a bellflower:


      Steve Schwartzman

      March 26, 2015 at 9:15 PM

  9. Erythroniums have been on my mind lately, as they are just coming up in my garden and I am working on a print with Erythroniums as the subject. They are a welcome sight in early spring.


    March 26, 2015 at 9:44 PM

  10. […] fringe benefit of my trout lily quest at Nan Hampton’s country place on March 13th was the chance to see a plant that’s […]

  11. Muy buena foto y una preciosa flor, parece una lamparita de colores muy coquetos.

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