Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Drummond’s skullcap

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Drummond's Skullcap Flower 0761

Again from July 7th along W. Courtyard Dr., behold a somewhat moody picture of a wildflower you haven’t seen here before: Scutellaria drummondii, a member of the mint family known as Drummond’s skullcap. Putting on your thinking cap won’t help you determine the scale, so I’ll tell you that each of these flowers was at most half an inch (13 mm) in size. You’re welcome to scoot on over to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for more information on Scutellaria drummondii, and to Wikipedia for a brief account of Thomas Drummond, a Scotsman who botanized in Texas and died in Havana, Cuba, in 1835.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 10, 2015 at 3:55 AM

24 Responses

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  1. Looks a lot like Monkey Flower, Mimulus ringens, which is related a couple of levels up.

    Steve Gingold

    August 10, 2015 at 5:38 AM

    • I checked out your picture and I see the similarity. It’s interesting how often patterns get re-used in nature.

      The left skullcap flower seems to have a dark, concave mouth, while your monkey flower seems to have a light-colored pair of lips protruding at its center.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 10, 2015 at 5:48 AM

  2. It’s always fun to realize something has been learned, almost without effort. When I saw “Drummond’s Skullcap,” my first thought was of Clematis drummondii and sure enough, it’s the same Thomas Drummond who lies behind both names.

    I don’t remember coming across the word “botanized” before, although you may have used it. It strikes me as a remarkably useful word: one that sums up a lot of activity very neatly.


    August 10, 2015 at 6:19 AM

    • Our host thought like you: I noticed when looking at the posted version of this that in the “Related” section WordPress had put links to three posts about Clematis drummondii. (Speaking of which, I’ll add that I’ve seen some nice fluffy mounds of the stuff over the last few weeks.)

      I picked up the verb botanize from botanists and native plant people. I’ve been hearing it occasionally in those circles for 10–15 years, but I don’t recall ever using it in writing before. Now I’m part of the botanical in-crowd.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 10, 2015 at 6:29 AM

  3. A tiny package of beauty


    August 10, 2015 at 6:38 AM

  4. I just yesterday on my walk saw two blossoms of this, or something eerily similar, for the first time I believe that it has just blossomed.


    August 10, 2015 at 8:16 AM

    • I’ve had trouble distinguishing Drummond’s skullcap from some of its relatives. I see that species in your general part of Texas include S. parvula, S. wrightii, S. laterifolia, and S. ovata, along with S. drummondii. Good luck telling them apart.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 10, 2015 at 1:54 PM

      • Oh, yes, some of those are very similar. I couldn’t find it again yesterday to look more carefully. Thank you for the research!


        August 11, 2015 at 5:33 AM

  5. Oh yes, you are definitely “in” now, Steve, and I’ll go botanizing with you anytime 🙂 Scutellaria are some of my favorites. Last summer I found some tiny ones, way off trail where I had no business being, therefore twice as pleased with myself and my find. Plus, I enjoy saying it!
    This photo is gorgeous. Just look at those crisp edges in front, set against the moody background.


    August 10, 2015 at 10:44 AM

    • Real botanists botanize in a way that’s beyond me, but I’m content to tag along with them from time to time and glean what I can, especially identifications of plants that I don’t recognize (of which there are many). Let’s just say I’ve become adept at photobotanizing, with emphasis on the first part of the word. If you make it to Texas, we’ll go out and botanize.

      You’re right about the need to go off-trail, at least until someone trains all the interesting plants to grow right at the edges of trails so we can see them and photograph them.

      I was fortunate to get the important edges of the petals sharp, as you pointed out. That’s not easy to do, and I don’t always succeed. In this case I was doubly fortunate because of the moody background.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 10, 2015 at 2:56 PM

  6. Such a delicate flower

    Raewyn's Photos

    August 10, 2015 at 1:45 PM

  7. I wouldn’t mind a skullcap in this colour. It’s a beautiful blue. The flower reminded me of the snapdragon, which Lady Bird says is a native of America.


    August 11, 2015 at 6:07 AM

    • I don’t have a skullcap, but I wear a white hat when I’m out photographing. I wonder how it (and I) would look if I dyed it the color of this wildflower.

      In Austin we even have a native snapdragon that grows as a delicate vine:


      Steve Schwartzman

      August 11, 2015 at 7:18 AM

      • The hat would look good. Thanks for the link to the native snapdragon vine which led me to links of relatives.


        August 12, 2015 at 5:59 AM

        • You’re welcome. I don’t often encounter the snapdragon vine. A year or two ago I found it at Austin’s only clothing-optional beach, where I suspect almost all photographers are looking for something other than native plants.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 12, 2015 at 6:55 AM

          • A place where a skullcap is not always wanted.


            August 12, 2015 at 8:03 AM

            • At Hippie Hollow (that’s the place’s name) people are generally eager to have no covering at all, except maybe sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat rather than a skullcap.

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 12, 2015 at 9:13 AM

  8. “Feed me, Seymour!” That flower looks positively dangerous. Like, it might eat an evil dentist.


    August 11, 2015 at 6:29 PM

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