Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Uncommon coreopsis

with 48 comments

Coreopsis Flower Head in Bubbles 2959

No, this post’s title doesn’t refer to some rare species, but who’d expect to find a coreopsis plant alive and apparently still thriving as it drifts sideways in an unaccustomed current? You see, the record rains of May had temporarily turned a ditch along Burnet Rd. by the old Merrilltown Cemetery in far north Austin into a brook. When I stopped there on May 29th, little rafts of bubbles kept flowing by and briefly clinging to the buds and flower head shown here before being swept south, while the coreopsis, still rooted, could undulate in the water without being swept away.

This is the second time you’ve recently seen coreopsis in an unaccustomed way, the first being as a dense colony covering parts of a Galveston cemetery.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 6, 2015 at 4:46 AM

48 Responses

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  1. This is only our second spring in Avery, but this is one of the flowers that has newly appeared this spring, accompanied by the massive rains.


    July 6, 2015 at 4:59 AM

    • Soon you’ll be able to say that some of your best friends are coreopses (which is what I take the plural of coreopsis to be). If you’d like to see how expansive coreopsis can be in a natural setting (as opposed to a cemetery), you’re welcome to have a look back at a scene from 2010:


      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2015 at 5:10 AM

      • I had looked at that beautiful photo. What a sight that would be!
        We had many places locally carpeted with a small yellow flower earlier in spring, but I can’t recall the name, and also that non-native evening primrose, and a huge outburst of some kind of thistle, also 5-6′. Are you interested in the succession of these plants?


        July 6, 2015 at 5:39 AM

        • Ecologists seem particularly interested in plant succession, but I don’t know much about that beyond what I’ve sometimes observed for myself. If you can discover the identities of those plants you mentioned, I’d be interested in hearing them. I wonder if the large thistles you saw were Carduus nutans, an invasive Eurasian species.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 6, 2015 at 5:54 AM

  2. Nice shot!


    July 6, 2015 at 5:59 AM

  3. I think most plants can take a temporary surfeit of moisture but will it survive a prolonged period? Chances are your ditch will empty quickly, but I would guess your coreopsisisis would not do well with a severe case of athlete’s foot.
    Love it floating amongst those nice bubbles.

    Steve Gingold

    July 6, 2015 at 6:36 AM

    • I’m sorry I didn’t pass back by there a day or two later to see what had become of this coreopsis. As you noted, some plants can survive the unaccustomed water, while others rot. We can always get philosophical and say that this coreopsis lives on in its portrait, and in that way we photographers are life preservers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2015 at 6:44 AM

  4. Enjoyed the composition and your discovery.


    July 6, 2015 at 7:31 AM

  5. Our rains have tapered off, and now we are reaping the mosquitoes. Yikes!
    It is fun to come across a plant evidently thriving in a surprising situation.


    July 6, 2015 at 7:36 AM

    • One fringe benefit of the drought we were having until the recent rains is that the mosquito count stayed on the low side. As with you there, that’s no longer the case here. Susceptible me wishes I survived as well with mosquitoes as this coreopsis was doing with flowing water.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2015 at 8:21 AM

      • Same here. I find myself hunkered down indoors more often now which is too bad because we are having lovely weather.


        July 6, 2015 at 9:09 AM

        • I wear a long-sleeve shirt, spray on some repellent, and head out in any case a few times a week. Oh, intrepid me.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 6, 2015 at 9:24 AM

  6. I tried to enlarge the photo to see your reflection in the bubbles. All I could get was the flash. It looks rectangular. Is that correct?

    Jim in IA

    July 6, 2015 at 8:01 AM

    • For some reason the large bubbles were dull rather than shiny, the way they usually are in a situation like this. Even in the full-size version I can’t see myself reflected, but the rectangular flash head, being so bright, does show up clearly.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2015 at 8:28 AM

  7. When I saw the pic in my Reader, I immediately thought the flowers had been used/caught by some fish laying some spawn around the flowers. Beautiful shot, steve!


    July 6, 2015 at 8:11 AM

  8. For a moment I wondered if you were showing us a spittle flower.


    July 6, 2015 at 8:19 AM

    • I think your imagination was primed by the recent spittlebug spittle photograph. I’d thought about that too and considered putting this photograph right after that one to make the comparison, but I decided to separate the similarly bubbly pictures by the better part of a week.

      Although I’ve seen lots of spittlebug spittle on plant stalks, sometimes not far below a flower, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any on a flower. Maybe I’ve just not noticed, or maybe these insects avoid flowers for some reason.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2015 at 9:18 AM

      • Hmmm….. I haven’t noticed the spittlebugs in my garden on flowers. They like the mint and parsley stalks and can hide themselves so well that I have been known to accidentally chop them up when I have been preparing the herbs for a meal. 😦


        July 6, 2015 at 6:43 PM

  9. Lovely bubbly – nature’s chocolate aero 🙂


    July 6, 2015 at 8:29 AM

  10. I love this composure! With all the little sparklies, bubblies, and the colors, it’s a winner. Hope you’re having a great summer, Steve.


    July 6, 2015 at 12:49 PM

    • I don’t recall ever taking a picture like this one, so of course I’m happy for the novelty.

      The summer’s good, and I hope yours is too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2015 at 3:04 PM

  11. I do enjoy the unusual composition of this picture, Steve. The shape of the bubbles looked like a sideways heart-shape to me at first. It is a pleasing balanced kind of shape full of circles. Then there is the flash of colour from the flower and the ripples on the outside to complete the interest factor. Certainly a novel way to present the flower, as others have mentioned.


    July 7, 2015 at 6:04 AM

    • Your thorough analysis makes us wonder if you missed your calling as an art critic. I see the intimation of a heart that you mentioned, but my mathematical imagination drifted, like the coreopsis in the current, toward triangleness. Our visions meet in the forms of all those circles.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 7, 2015 at 6:24 AM

      • I have a daughter who is a portrait artist (as well as medical science uni student) and have been her manager/agent on occasion. Perhaps that is where my over-analysis comes from. 🙂 We both enjoy the sciences and the arts.


        July 7, 2015 at 6:33 AM

  12. Nice capture.

    Raewyn's Photos

    July 7, 2015 at 2:31 PM

  13. I really like the contrast between the smooth, silky water and the bubbles. And that tiny bit of purple, attached to its single bubble and apparently headed in the opposite direction, makes me smile. So much for going with the flow.


    July 7, 2015 at 3:57 PM

    • That little piece of a flower could have come from a prairie verbena. It may look recalcitrant but I don’t think a blossom in a current has learned to tack like mariners into the wind, so that bit of flower was most likely headed in the same direction as everything else. Still, your imagination is free not to go with the flow.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 7, 2015 at 4:09 PM

      • Of course you’re right about the blossom’s direction of travel. It just “feels” like it ought to be heading off in the direction the color is pointed. The explanation may be that the white end is the weightier, and it’s swung around in the current to travel “backwards.”


        July 7, 2015 at 4:27 PM

        • Hoping to get a clue, I looked back at the set of pictures I took of the coreopsis. This picture turned out to be the last, so I couldn’t get a follow-up. The previous frame, no more than two seconds earlier, didn’t show the extra little blossom at all, so it must have been moving fairly quickly. To deal with the movement, I’d set the shutter speed at a quick 1/640 sec.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 7, 2015 at 7:19 PM

  14. how pretty !


    July 8, 2015 at 12:28 PM

  15. Nature is amazing!!!


    July 9, 2015 at 7:30 AM

  16. This is a really cool photo! It’s a unique and interesting perspective, thank you.

    The Boss Book Club

    July 23, 2015 at 8:37 AM

  17. magic!


    September 23, 2015 at 9:58 AM

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