Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The cedar sage was good this spring

with 24 comments

Cedar Sage Flowers 2846

Salvia roemeriana is called cedar sage because it often grows under or close to Ashe juniper trees, which are mistakenly but traditionally called cedars. I photographed this arc of cedar sage flowers in the woods in Great Hills Park on April 13th.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 5, 2015 at 5:21 AM

24 Responses

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  1. Does the Ashe Juniper have a cedar fragrance? I see that there have been campaigns to eradicate the Ashe Juniper but the Lady Bird Johnson center says that this desire for removal is misguided. For a start, without the Ashe Juniper the Cedar Sage would struggle.


    June 5, 2015 at 6:39 AM

    • Yes, Ashe juniper (named after William Willard Ashe) does have a fragrant, cedary sort of wooden smell, and I think that’s how the misnomer arose. It’s common to hear people say that the “cedar” isn’t native here, but that appears to be a misunderstanding of the fact that the trees now cover more land within their native range than they used to. That’s because the pioneers who plowed and farmed and ranched here ended up eliminating much of the vegetation that had held the “cedars” in check and had restricted them primarily to canyons. There are tracts where the Ashe juniper has suppressed other plants and formed almost a monoculture, and that overbearing presence has led some property owners to thin out or eliminate those stands. We have perhaps a dozen Ashe junipers on our property, including the one outside the window next to my computer where I often see squirrels cavorting (on the tree, not the computer).

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 5, 2015 at 7:12 AM

  2. I pulled out my copy of Roemer’s “Texas” to see if there was any mention of salvia in the index of plants, but there wasn’t. (Imagine — it’s still possible to gather information from books, rather than Google!)

    When I looked at the distribution map, it became clear why I’ve never seen it under the Ashe juniper, and why Roemer may have missed it, too. That’s really an interesting pattern, and it’s not listed for the counties I most often frequent.

    The mixing of red and magenta in your photo truly is luscious. I wish clothing manufacturers made more use of fabrics that pick up this sort of combination.


    June 5, 2015 at 7:27 AM

  3. Another stunning photo, Steve!


    June 5, 2015 at 8:16 AM

    • Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his cohort used to refer to their favorite models as stunners. I’m pretty sure, however, that none of those British artists ever painted a cedar sage. Normally this wildflower doesn’t grow in an arc, and that’s one reason I was happy with this portrait.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 5, 2015 at 5:32 PM

  4. Lovely shade of pink.

    Raewyn's Photos

    June 5, 2015 at 4:00 PM

    • It’s interesting that you see this as pink, Raewyn, when I see it as a deeply saturated red. Oh well, people’s eyes and brains differ, and so do their computer screens.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 5, 2015 at 5:35 PM

  5. A treat for hummingbirds…


    June 5, 2015 at 8:03 PM

  6. It is so pretty…


    June 6, 2015 at 6:40 AM

    • I was taken with it too, and if I can play with words I’ll add that it was a different take than my previous ones of this wildflower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2015 at 6:42 AM

      • I like the delicacy of the flower and its rich red colour.


        June 6, 2015 at 6:48 AM

        • Although individual cedar sage flowers are small, their characteristic rich redness makes them stand out against the greenery of the woods even from a distance.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 6, 2015 at 6:55 AM

  7. Uncanny how beautiful this is!!

    Birder's Journey

    June 6, 2015 at 4:11 PM

    • Can I say that it took a canny photographer to reveal that beauty? (I’ll add that WordPress took your comment and mistakenly put it in the spam folder, where I just discovered it and brought it back to the land of the living. Sorry for the delayed reply.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 11, 2015 at 12:33 PM

  8. Such a deep and rich red. Lovely flower.

    Steve Gingold

    June 7, 2015 at 4:54 PM

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