Perspectives on Nature Photography
with 50 comments
On June 27, 2013, I photographed this flower head of a buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis, in Bull Creek Park.
© 2015 Steven Schwartzman
Written by Steve Schwartzman
June 8, 2015 at 5:17 AM
Posted in nature photography
Tagged with Austin, bush, flowers, nature, Texas, water, wildflowers
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This one lights up the sky. Beautiful.
June 8, 2015 at 5:47 AM
Speaking of lighting up the sky, I’d thought of mentioning that it must have been the clear sky reflecting in the creek that created that preternaturally blue background. It occurs to me now that perhaps I should also have mentioned that buttonbush flower globes have quite a pleasant fragrance. See what information your comment has brought out.
June 8, 2015 at 5:52 AM
I wondered about that blue background! A perfect contrast to the flower.
June 9, 2015 at 7:42 AM
That “bluer than blue” background did the trick for me too, Susan.
I notice that buttonbushes are native in the Hudson Valley (and almost everywhere else in the Northeast), so perhaps you’ll get to see (and sniff) some of these flower globes soon.
June 9, 2015 at 11:07 AM
Glad to know that, and I’ll definitely keep an eye (and nose) out!
June 9, 2015 at 7:44 PM
I am pleased to know it has a pleasing fragrance. It would do for a buttonhole.
June 8, 2015 at 6:20 AM
Brandish one in a buttonhole and you’ll be the belle of the ball.
June 8, 2015 at 6:38 AM
Quick let me find a ball.
June 8, 2015 at 7:30 AM
There’s lots of ball moss in central Texas, but somehow I don’t think that’s the kind of ball you had in mind.
June 8, 2015 at 7:47 AM
No, not really, except it’s probably the closest I will get to a ball.
June 8, 2015 at 8:16 AM
I see that there’s The Town Ball at the intersection of Manchester and Southwark in Christchurch. But more likely than a visit there is your using some Ball jars, which I see are available in NZ:
June 8, 2015 at 9:25 AM
Yes, that is more likely. Actually your flower made me think of a sculpture which is currently being installed at the northern entrance to Christchurch. It is called Fanfare. It is ball-like and flower-like. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2C3dy44seI It will be interesting.
June 9, 2015 at 1:27 AM
That sculpture reminds me of one we have in Austin, which appeared in this blog two years ago in the guise of a photograph that Eve took:
June 9, 2015 at 10:51 AM
I can see the connection. Does Eve have more guest pictures?
June 10, 2015 at 4:31 AM
So far that has been the only one.
June 10, 2015 at 7:11 AM
It looks like some celestial object.
June 8, 2015 at 6:50 AM
With reference to celestial, the color of the cielo contributed, along with the water, to the deep blue in the background.
June 8, 2015 at 7:21 AM
Jim in IA
June 8, 2015 at 6:51 AM
I can see it now, but as many times as I’ve come across buttonbush flower globes, my imagination never invoked fireworks.
June 8, 2015 at 7:24 AM
Back in the 1960s (as I remember) it became the custom to make Christmas decorations from styrofoam balls: pinning sequins, crystals and beads onto them with decorative pins. Here, it looks as though Nature’s hand has pinned a plethora of blooms onto a ball — a perfect decoration for the season.
June 8, 2015 at 6:56 AM
I wonder if pieces of styrofoam have served as pincushions, because the image of pins in a pincushion is one that often comes up when people write about buttonbush flower globes.
Except where the stalk comes up from below, these flowers cover their supporting globe. I’ve done a little looking but haven’t found any estimates of the number of flowers on a typical buttonbush flower globe. I guess I could do some counting the next time I encounter one, which shouldn’t be long now that the season is at hand.
June 8, 2015 at 7:45 AM
I remember filling our homemade pincushions with ground walnut shells or unwashed wool. Both help to keep the pins shiny. And the little sharpener that’s attached (usually a little “strawberry”) was filled with emery.
Good grief. That sounds awfully little-house-on-the-prairie-ish.
Speaking of ground walnut shells, they used to be mixed with paint and used as non-skid on boat decks.
June 8, 2015 at 7:56 AM
Oh – I forgot my own point. The styrofoam probably would disintegrate over time.
June 8, 2015 at 7:57 AM
Ah, and a good point it is.
June 8, 2015 at 8:34 AM
I’d say Iowa has a right to be little-house-on-the-prairie-ish. In contrast, New York may claim bragging rights to cynicism.
June 8, 2015 at 8:36 AM
Good morning sunshine (sorry, that’s my immediate response)…
June 8, 2015 at 7:10 AM
Nothing to be sorry about, Sally. That’s as good a way as any to brighten up the day.
June 8, 2015 at 7:46 AM
Amazing detail! I find photographing flowers to be a challenge, and you are a master at it. This is beautiful.
carolyn aka skip
June 8, 2015 at 8:43 AM
Thanks for your comment, Carolyn. I just checked the USDA map at
and confirmed that all the counties in northeast Ohio are marked for buttonbush, so you may be able to see (and sniff) some of these flower globes first-hand (or first-eye or first-nose).
June 8, 2015 at 8:53 AM
One of my all-time favorite plants~ I have one in my rain garden and last year it gave me some wonderful flowers. I don’t know whether it is wet enough this year. It looks like it is so proud of itself, doesn’t it, with its flower flourish?
June 8, 2015 at 8:57 AM
How nice that you have one of these in your garden. You may be short on rain this year up there, but central Texas certainly hasn’t been, so I’m hoping the buttonbushes will thrive. June is their usual time here to start flowering, so I may find out soon enough.
I’d never thought of a buttonbush being proud of itself, but I can understand how you came to that conceit (I couldn’t resist playing off the two senses of the word).
June 8, 2015 at 9:23 AM
Yesterday we were treated to a whole day of thunderstorms 🙂
June 9, 2015 at 8:03 AM
Sounds like no one will be complaining that it rained on their parade.
June 9, 2015 at 10:59 AM
Nice. We should be seeing buttonbush flowers in another month or so. I’ve yet to manage an image successfully as you have done here. I like the reflected sky as a background.
June 8, 2015 at 3:51 PM
The rich blue sky/water background differentiated this view from most others I’ve made of buttonbush globes over the years. May this be your summer to photograph one in a way that pleases you.
June 8, 2015 at 4:14 PM
Stunning shot. I am featuring New Zealand birds for the next couple of weeks on my Wordless Wednesday posts.
June 9, 2015 at 2:04 AM
Good for you for highlighting some of your native birds, which deserve to be promoted.
June 9, 2015 at 10:55 AM
This is cute! Reminds me of the Australian ‘pom pom’ (my name for it)…
June 9, 2015 at 4:29 AM
I think it’s hard not to favor “global” flowers. Which one do you have in mind with “Australian pom pom”?
June 9, 2015 at 10:58 AM
If I knew its name, Steve, I would have given it to you…I just admire them and photograph them!! lol. I’ll be posting an ‘illustrated’ version of it some time soon. I’ll let you know. Regards,
June 12, 2015 at 2:14 AM
I took this at Big Lagoon State Park (Florida) in July, 2014. Is it the same thing?
June 9, 2015 at 9:16 AM
It certainly looks like it. The USDA map at
shows the species in Florida (and many other places), and the only other Cephalanthus species I’ve found a reference to in the United States occurs at the southern tip of Texas and down into Mexico.
June 9, 2015 at 11:04 AM
Dang. That’s a pretty wide ranging habitat.
June 9, 2015 at 11:11 AM
Yup, that’s one hardy species to be able to tolerate such extremes of hot and cold and such differences in annual rainfall. That means a lot of people have the opportunity to see and enjoy buttonbushes.
June 9, 2015 at 11:14 AM
Wow. Simply … wow. D
June 10, 2015 at 5:46 PM
And for once this is a species that you have up there, too.
June 10, 2015 at 7:07 PM
All I can say is WOW that’s beautiful!
June 10, 2015 at 6:13 PM
That’s two consecutive wows, so we’re on a roll with buttonbush flower globes.
June 10, 2015 at 7:08 PM
Excellent !! So weird !
September 4, 2015 at 2:22 PM
Weird if you haven’t seen them before, and yet these bushes are common across much of the eastern United States (in fact I saw one when I was out photographing this morning). The flower globes are fragrant par dessus le marché.
September 4, 2015 at 5:27 PM
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