Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 36 comments

Fringed Puccoon Flowers 9138

I have the impression it’s not all that common for flowers to be crinkled, but one central Texas wildflower certainly fits the description: Lithospermum incisum, known as fringed puccoon. I photographed this one when I walked in the greenbelt north of Old Lampasas Trail in northwest Austin on March 15th.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 29, 2015 at 5:24 AM

36 Responses

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  1. Puccoon is a native American word?


    March 29, 2015 at 7:07 AM

    • It is. The original Algonquin Indian root (linguistic root, not botanical) means ‘red,’ apparently because the roots of some species of this plant are red. The same linguistic root is also responsible for the name of a different plant, known as pokeweed or pokeberry, which produces small but prominent reddish-purple fruits. I’d point you to a post showing that plant, but I see I’ve never posted one. I’ll have to remedy that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 29, 2015 at 8:10 AM

  2. Oh-ho, another favorite I won’t see for another month or 2 here. I think I’ve mentioned that my digital camera refuses to acknowledge yellow, so I don’t have any decent photos of this at all, or of its relative the hoary puccoon which also blooms here. This photo is wonderful!


    March 29, 2015 at 9:16 AM

    • Two more months up there, while soon the puccoon here will already have gone to seed (but I saw one plant still flowering yesterday on the same tract that provided today’s photo).

      Yes, I remember you mentioning that yellow is a hard color for your camera to capture. I may have mentioned that it’s helpful to set your camera to raw mode, if it’s an option. That way your camera will record the maximum amount of information, but it also means you’ll have to process the images afterward in a photo program to optimize them. (Cameras that allow raw mode also usually have a setting where you can get both a raw version and a jpeg for each picture, so you have an immediate picture as well as a file you can tweak for better results.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 29, 2015 at 9:49 AM

      • I remembered that you had given me advice, but I couldn’t remember what it was. Since then I’ve done some investigation and now I even have an idea what you are talking about. My camera doesn’t allow for that, so I am on the horns of a dilemma. I’ve considered upgrading to a better camera, but there is the cost to consider, plus the time to learn how to use it. Then Jim did his side-by-side comparison and demonstrated that a Samsung S5 took better pictures than my camera, and I thought, cool, I could get that and join the rest of the world with a smart phone.


        March 30, 2015 at 10:19 AM

        • The cameras in phones have improved a lot, but they still offer almost no control over the photographs they take. The very fact of having to hold the phone out at arm’s length to compose a picture—an inherently unstable position—strikes traditionalist me as a big drawback.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 30, 2015 at 12:27 PM

          • Well, yes, that is certainly true and I’ve been deeply suspicious of the whole thing. My son just got one and he took a very nice photo of one of my paintings that my camera has been having trouble with. I was impressed.


            March 31, 2015 at 9:52 AM

            • You can get good pictures on a camera phone—I’ve even posted 3 or 4 on this blog—but a lot depends on the conditions you’re confronted with, and a decent camera offers much more flexibility in difficult lighting.

              Steve Schwartzman

              March 31, 2015 at 2:27 PM

  3. I haven’t heard of this one before–what delightful petals. Another one of the fringe benefits of your frequent excursions to find and introduce us to the flora in your area. Keep them coming, please!


    March 29, 2015 at 10:56 AM

    • I see there are at least a few other native Lithospermum species in the Great Plains, but none in the pictures I’ve found online seem to have flowers as crinkled as the species I know here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 29, 2015 at 1:29 PM

  4. Lovely photo. Love the crinkled yellow flowers

    Raewyn's Photos

    March 29, 2015 at 1:35 PM

  5. This is a delightfully lovely crinkled flower. Puccoon. When I hear the name I immediately think “Poltroon” which is totally unrelated in a cowardly sort of way.

    Steve Gingold

    March 29, 2015 at 1:52 PM

    • If you’re ever fortunate to find a new species, I hope you’ll have the courage to name it poltroon.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 29, 2015 at 2:35 PM

  6. Qué bonitas flores y que foto tan buena. Gracias!

  7. that’s a beauty, and i thought it might be related to this that i’ve seen in costa rica and ecuador..
    but no, when i pulled up the images, there are many differences.


  8. It’s a beauty!


    March 29, 2015 at 9:42 PM

    • The USDA map at


      shows this species for many counties in Montana, so you may yet have a shot at fringed puccoon this year (I’m assuming it flowers later way up north than it does down here).

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 29, 2015 at 9:54 PM

      • I had no idea that it grew here. Quite a ways east of my normal stomping grounds though.


        March 29, 2015 at 10:13 PM

        • Montana’s such a large state that I didn’t know how close to one of those green-colored counties you might be. It’s not unusual for a species to be in a county adjacent to a green-colored one, so you may find fringed puccoon even closer to you than the map leads you to think.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 29, 2015 at 10:18 PM

  9. “Puccoon” invariably reminds me of “raccoon.” I finally got with it and checked, and discovered that “raccoon” also is an Algonquin name which means “he scratches with the hands.” Yes, he certainly does.

    The Latin name’s equally interesting. Despite all those lobes and indentations, the flower doesn’t look ragged. Its edges appear to be incised. A little more searching turned up “incīdo, cīdi, cīsum; v. a. in-caedo, to cut into, cut through, cut open, cut up.” That fits, too.

    Funny that a flower’s name should lead to teeth (“incisors”), but then again — it is a toothsome bit of spring.


    March 31, 2015 at 6:41 AM

    • It’s good that you now have insight into the origin of incised, and likewise into the incised nature of this wildflower.

      Maybe I can be an honorary raccoon because yesterday, while gathering some morel mushrooms from beneath the dry branches of an Ashe juniper tree, I scratched my hand (or actually wrist, but we’ll allow the same sort of poetic license that lets a raccoon be called a “he scratches with the hands”). That was close to the location where I’d taken this picture of puccoon two weeks earlier, and on the way back to my car I noticed a lone puccoon flower. As soon as I touched it, it fell out of its little nexus, its time apparently having come to depart.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 31, 2015 at 6:59 AM

      • I try to keep envy and jealousy in check, but I have my limits. Morel mushrooms? Oh, my. I still can’t get my mind around the fact that they can be found here in Texas. Lucky you!


        March 31, 2015 at 7:09 AM

        • Some friends have managed to harvest several pounds of morels over the last few days. Yesterday I joined them at a site that I tipped them off to from a few years ago, and where they’d found a good crop again this year.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 31, 2015 at 9:01 AM

  10. I’m envious of your Old Lampasas Trail walk. The flowers must be extraordinary there.


    March 31, 2015 at 5:57 PM

    • Have you ever been to Colorado Bend State Park? We are considering an outing there soon…


      March 31, 2015 at 5:58 PM

      • Yes, I’ve been there two or three times. If the waterfall is flowing at a reasonable rate (you can call and ask) then it’s worth visiting.

        Steve Schwartzman

        March 31, 2015 at 10:06 PM

    • Old Lampasas Trail is the name of the street, but on the north side of that street there’s a greenbelt that’s been a photographic playground for me for over a decade. That area doesn’t have the largest colonies of wildflowers, but it’s proven a reliable source for smaller (and sometimes good-sized) amounts, as you’re seeing in this sequence.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 31, 2015 at 10:04 PM

  11. […] few posts back I wondered about crinkled flowers and showed a picture of one, fringed puccoon. Now here’s another, southern dewberry, Rubus trivialis. This photograph, which leans toward […]

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