Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Brown-eyed susan by pinweed

with 19 comments

Brown-Eyed Susan Flower Head by Pinweed 5487

And now back to Bastrop County. When I visited on June 4th I found this flower head of Rudbeckia hirta, known as brown-eyed susan or black-eyed susan. (You may remember seeing a whole colony of these in a post on the Fourth of July.) This time the warm background color came not from the earth, as it did in the photograph of the lazy daisy, but from some drying narrowleaf pinweed, Lechea tenuifolia.


UPDATE. Entomologist Mike Quinn has finally tracked down the identity of the purple sawfly larvae you saw here a few days ago. If you go back to that post, near the end you’ll find the identity and a link to what an adult looks like (and see how different it is).

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 17, 2015 at 5:21 AM

19 Responses

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  1. First we get news of the purple larvae’s identity being pinned down, and now we have pinweed to admire.

    The disc flowers look remarkably like chain-mail. What really surprised me was the distinct “eye” at the top of the flower’s center. I’ve always assumed the name came from the entire flower being taken for an eye, but here, the purple “iris” framed by the “lashes” is even more eye-like.


    August 17, 2015 at 5:49 AM

    • You must have been on (purple) pins and needles about learning the identity of those larvae. Now that you’re not on pins and needles anymore, I wonder what metaphor describes your condition.

      Sometimes the top of a brown-eyed susan’s disk is more rounded and dome-like, in which case the whole flower head could be taken for the “eye.” I never thought about it till you mentioned it just now, but this flatter-and circular-topped disk does a much better job of mimicking an eye, particularly a pupil surrounded by an iris surrounded by lashes. I don’t suppose we’ll ever know exactly what eye-like feature led whoever coined the name to do so, and I also doubt we’ll ever know who the Susan was who inspired the name.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2015 at 7:37 AM

  2. Thanks for additional info on those colorful sawfly larvae.

    Sammy D.

    August 17, 2015 at 7:36 AM

    • You’re welcome. I make corrections and pass along new information whenever I become aware of something. It’s not often that the new information comes so quickly, but I seem to have had a hand in it. That’s because I’d emailed a couple of people, one being Mike Quinn, about a purported identification of the larvae that Steve Gingold found online. The other person I’d e-mailed, Val Bugh, pointed out that it was incorrect, and that may have prompted Mike Quinn to check further. He wrote: “I found the adult argid in the TAMUIC that Dan Hardy reared in 2007 and sent to TAMU” (that’s Texas A&M University). So now we know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2015 at 7:47 AM

  3. None of our wild Susies are as colorful as your brown-eyed sweetheart. Nice to see that ring of flowers reaching for the sun…and pollinators.

    Steve Gingold

    August 17, 2015 at 10:59 AM

  4. Amazing photo, the detail is so spectacular. This is on my list to add to the garden this coming year.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    August 17, 2015 at 12:53 PM

  5. wow


    August 17, 2015 at 9:49 PM

  6. One extremely attractive eye. I am also wondering about Susan. Did she have only one eye? Have you noticed how fascinated we are with one eyed characters? http://humor.gunaxin.com/top-ten-fictional-one-eyed-characters/56430 On the list is the one eyed purple people eater.


    August 19, 2015 at 6:11 AM

    • I was reminded of the one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater when I did the post last week about the purple sawfly larvae. How many eyes they have, I don’t know, but now that I know these larvae exist, I’ll keep an eye out for them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 19, 2015 at 7:25 AM

      • An eye…..there’s that one eye again.


        August 19, 2015 at 8:07 AM

        • And I take pictures with one eye (my left) at the camera’s viewfinder.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 19, 2015 at 1:02 PM

          • Is that just what you prefer to do or is it a good technique which you have perfected? Using the left eye I mean.


            August 20, 2015 at 6:07 AM

            • It wasn’t (isn’t) a conscious thing: I just find myself putting my left eye to the viewfinder rather than my right.

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 20, 2015 at 8:22 AM

  7. […] or great blanketflower, and even (confusingly) brown-eyed susan, which I associate with a different genus in the sunflower family. In any case, I was taken with this Gaillardia flower head that had dried out and was part-way […]

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