Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Cardinal flower

with 23 comments

Cardinal Flower Flowers Close 6634

In a comment a couple of days ago, Lavinia Ross noted that the rich red standing cypress flowers in that morning’s post reminded her of those of the cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis. In my reply I mentioned that that species has a large range, in fact one that includes climates both cold and hot, and that we have cardinal flowers in Austin, too, just as the Northeast of the United States does. I was going to point to a previous post for a comparison between the two red flowers, but I discovered that after four years I’d still never shown a picture of a cardinal flower. Today’s post fills the lacuna, and that’s an appropriate word, because the cardinal flower thrives close to, at the edge of, or even in a body of water (if it’s not too deep).

I took this moody and rather abstract picture on the bank of a creek in my hilly northwestern part of Austin on October 13, 2014.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 29, 2015 at 5:16 AM

23 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. What a stunning photo.


    June 29, 2015 at 5:46 AM

    • Thanks. This was one of those times when I went back through my photo archive and found pictures I’d forgotten about, but once I saw them I remembered the experience of taking them—which after all took place not even a year ago—quite well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 29, 2015 at 5:53 AM

      • Isn’t that a curious phenomenon — having an entire experience evoked by a single image? I suspect everyone’s experienced it. And it can happen even with images that we haven’t taken ourselves. When I saw your “basket-flower by other flowers” the other day, it brought tears to my eyes. The photo is lovely all on its own, but its evocative power for me lay in its ability to take me back to a specific place and time: namely, finding the flowers for the first time on my way to Goliad. Interesting stuff.


        June 29, 2015 at 7:39 AM

        • While Proust’s madeleine worked its magic through the sense of taste, I (and perhaps you too, based on what you say) am more attuned to the visual. Given how recent your finding of basket-flowers on the way to Goliad was, I can see how the picture of the one here the other day would have triggered an emotional reaction.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 29, 2015 at 7:54 AM

  2. I can see the resemblance to the standing cypress now. Given the cardinal flower’s affinity for water, I’m surprised it isn’t listed for Galveston County. It’s indicated for all of the surrounding counties, though, which might make the area around Nash Prairie and its bottomlands a good place to start looking. Like the standing cypress, it shouldn’t be hard to spot if it’s around, given that beautiful color.


    June 29, 2015 at 7:06 AM

    • If the cardinal flower is listed for all the counties surrounding Galveston County, I’d say the chances are high that it’s there too but just hasn’t been reported. Living in Austin, hours from the coast, I’ve found the cardinal flower growing close to fresh water only, and I don’t know what its tolerance for salt water is. Good luck finding some of these flowers at Nash Prairie. As you say, if you wander close to any, the tell-tale red of their flowers should beckon you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 29, 2015 at 7:24 AM

  3. Oh, yummy. There are the red and magenta again 🙂 It seems to fill a lacuna in my heart. I love the moody, dreamy quality of this photo.


    June 29, 2015 at 10:21 AM

    • And when I was in Paris in 1985 I stayed in a hotel near the Rue Magenta, but I can assure you I didn’t see any cardinal flowers there, nor cardinals of the avian or religious sort either.

      Happy cordial lacunary fulfillment to you, and all the moody dreaminess you could wish for.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 29, 2015 at 11:32 AM

      • Your use of the word cordial near the word Magenta and in a post on the red cardinal flower reminds me of the cordial we used to drink which more often than not was red. Cordial pertains to the heart. I am sure the red cordial we drank did nothing good for our hearts.


        June 30, 2015 at 6:14 AM

        • There seems to be some evidence that alcoholic beverages in small quantities benefit the heart. I say “seems to be” because there’s so much conflicting information out there. Your cordial drinking doesn’t seem to have hurt you.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 30, 2015 at 10:38 AM

      • That is very good right now. On Father’s Day I went to pick up my dad to go to dinner, and I found he’d passed away. Not that unexpected, I guess, but still sudden. We had just spoken! He was a great man who lived a life of high adventure. The world seems pretty darned empty now.


        June 30, 2015 at 9:25 AM

        • Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that, Melissa. I remember that empty feeling when my father died in 2001.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 30, 2015 at 10:31 AM

  4. Taking close ups of flowers is enjoyable. It is amazing all the detail.

    Ray Dawson

    June 29, 2015 at 2:32 PM

  5. nice one !!!!


    June 29, 2015 at 3:41 PM

  6. A beautiful shot Steven. BTW, I don’t think I ever told you that I absolutely loved Austin when I traveled there last year. You live in a beautiful and very fun place!

    Tina Schell

    June 29, 2015 at 9:57 PM

  7. Nice mood and selective focus, Steve.

    Steve Gingold

    June 30, 2015 at 3:08 AM

    • The low level of light forced a wide aperture, in this case f/5, but I’m pleased with the soft effect.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 30, 2015 at 6:40 AM

  8. What a gorgeous colour and beautifully captured as usual 🙂


    June 30, 2015 at 7:02 AM

    • Yes, the cardinal flower has flowers of a super-saturated red. I think a darker rather than brighter take worked well here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 30, 2015 at 7:09 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: