Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Turning back to Texas pictures

with 30 comments

After the geological abstractions that you’ve recently seen from New Zealand, here’s a shadowed and moody floral abstraction from a month ago today in Austin:

Firewheel Ray Flower 8706

Click for larger size and better texture.

The photograph shows one ray flower on a firewheel, Gaillardia pulchella, which people also call blanketflower and Indian blanket. I was tempted to tell you to look at the way the distal part of the flower is cleft into four sunny yet claw-like parts, but you hardly needed me to point that out to you, even if I now have.

The featureless yellow in the background came not from another firewheel but from a couple of four-nerve daisies, Tetraneuris linearifolia.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 25, 2015 at 5:39 AM

30 Responses

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  1. Jim in IA

    July 25, 2015 at 9:17 AM

    • That is really cool, Jim.


      July 25, 2015 at 9:24 AM

    • Yes I have, on several occasions, and I’m impressed with what computer graphics can do these days. As a teacher, my qualm with the video is that it shows so many things so quickly and without any other explanation that it’s hard to follow what’s going on. The video is a good starting point, but then we need to go back and delve into each thing to understand it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 25, 2015 at 9:29 AM

  2. And what interests me are the flowers that are irregular in their form.


    July 25, 2015 at 9:25 AM

    • And yet there’s still an overall symmetry in this ray flower, with the two wider lobes on opposite sides of the two narrower lobes in the center. A botanist once told me that there’s a lot of variation in this species. In looking back, I see that last year in the post at


      I showed a firewheel whose rays had three lobes rather than the four shown today. It makes me realize that I don’t know how common each number of lobes is, even though I’ve seen zillions of firewheels.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 25, 2015 at 9:46 AM

      • Yes~ as I’ve been drawing the plants of this region I often discover a surprising amount of individual variation. So much so that I know some people are tempted to split the species.. I’m a lumper, myself but I do enjoy the differences.


        July 25, 2015 at 10:16 AM

        • Reminds me of the saying “If you don’t like it, you can lump it.” There’s been some lumping of whole botanical families in recent years. For example, the milkweed family, Ascelepiadaceae, has now become a subfamily, Asclepiadoideae, within the dogbane family, Apocynaceae. In another example, Wikipedia notes that dodder, “formerly treated as the only genus in the family Cuscutaceae, now is accepted as belonging in the morning glory family, Convolvulaceae, on the basis of the work of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group.”

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 25, 2015 at 10:27 AM

          • You’re kidding~ I hadn’t heard that. Although, I remember telling people that I saw Monarch caterpillars on dogbane and nobody would believe me. That was before smart phones. I love my smartphone 🙂 Now I guess I’d better go and change all of my pen and ink labels…..


            July 26, 2015 at 8:53 AM

            • Now you can feel vindicated for your observation of monarch caterpillars on dogbane. Here’s an article about the reclassification:


              I used to fantasize about being out somewhere and magically being able to pluck a reference book from the sky to look something up—and now that we have smartphones my old fantasy has come true.

              Steve Schwartzman

              July 26, 2015 at 11:30 AM

  3. Beautiful, and please keep on serving up accompanying details. You are my source for little bits of botanical info. : )


    July 25, 2015 at 11:33 AM

    • The eternal teacher in me has kept on serving up those accompanying details. Some I’ve known for a good while but others I’ve learned recently. This blog has been running for 50 months, so there’s quite an inventory of posts (1666 as of today!). If I don’t mention that a species is making its debut, you can use the search box in the upper right of the page to see what other pictures and information have appeared here for a given genus or species. For example, if you put “Gaillardia” into the search box, it returns page after scrolling page of hits:


      Steve Schwartzman

      July 25, 2015 at 12:03 PM

  4. Stunning shot.

    Raewyn's Photos

    July 25, 2015 at 3:26 PM

  5. When you come across something like this in the field, how do you distinguish between it and Gaillardia suavis? I suppose the fragrance would be a clue, or the absence of rays, but some photos of Gaillardia suavis suggest these three or four-lobed rays are common. Seeing the whole plant probably helps, and maybe the leaves.

    Even though it’s a cultivar and not a native, look at this remarkably familiar image of Gaillardia pulchella ‘Yellow Plume’. Since the Gaillardia has ray and disk flowers, I assumed some wild botanist could make it behave like the mutant sunflowers, and it looks like that’s just what happened.


    July 25, 2015 at 9:59 PM

    • I wouldn’t have recognized that “Yellow Plume” as any sort of Gaillardia, that’s for sure. As for G. suavis, I don’t believe it grows in my part of Austin (which is where I took this picture), so that wouldn’t have entered my mind, aside from which this specimen looked like the G. pulchella I’m used to. G. suavis grows on bare and relatively long stalks, and the flower heads quickly lose their rays.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 26, 2015 at 7:29 AM

  6. Lovely warmth emanating from the ray.


    July 26, 2015 at 3:27 AM

    • That’s appropriate for our Texas summer. The high temperature here today is predicted to be around 37°C.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 26, 2015 at 7:31 AM

  7. La nature est un peintre de génie. Magnifique beauté en grand format.


    July 26, 2015 at 4:51 AM

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