Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Wild petunia colony along Shoal Creek

with 20 comments

Wild Petunias Flowering by Willows Along Shoal Creek 1442

Yesterday I wandered along Shoal Creek south of 34th St. and found this colony of wild petunias, Ruellia nudiflora, flowering along the edge of the creek.

¿Having trouble making out the flowers in the broad landscape photograph above? If so, fasten your seat belt and click the strip below.

Wild Petunias Flowering by Willows Along Shoal Creek 1442A

ADDITION: Many people are familiar with the hybridized garden petunias that are members of the nightshade family. In contrast, and in spite of the name, wild petunias are in the acanthus family and are therefore unrelated. Someone apparently saw a superficial resemblance, but of course not all that glitters is gold, and now we can add that not every plant called a petunia is one.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 21, 2015 at 5:32 AM

20 Responses

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  1. …they are really such jewels among the lush greens, Steven–how lovely


    August 21, 2015 at 6:39 AM

    • I’m used to finding wild petunias in singles or twos or threes, Lance, but for a stretched-out colony like this one I think I have the creek to thank. The flowers did seem like jewels amidst all the greenery.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 21, 2015 at 7:56 AM

  2. Oh, raptures, a whole colony of wild petunias! I love this photo, Steve. It is just grand.


    August 21, 2015 at 8:40 AM

    • I felt the same way when I caught sight of it, and I’d been wanting to include some more overviews and landscapes to balance out the many closeups I show here. This scene did the trick.

      Wild petunias thrive in the hottest part of the Texas summer. I should have mentioned in the text that they’re in the acanthus family and therefore unrelated to the cultivated petunias from the nightshade family that are familiar to so many people from their gardens.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 21, 2015 at 9:02 AM

  3. I wish we could persuade people to include these beauties in their landscaping, rather than Ruellia simplex, the so-called Mexican petunia, or Katy Ruellia. I suspect the denser and more predictable blooms of the Mexican petunia make them appealing, not to mention the heavy marketing done by garden shops and box stores like Lowe’s.

    As your photo shows, they really can shine in a landscape. I think your hunch about the creek may be right. The only time I’ve seen them growing and blooming like this was out at my picking farm, where they grew along with the blackberry vines and tomatoes: all watered with a spiffy drip irrigation system.


    August 21, 2015 at 8:55 AM

    • My impression is that cultivars have been bred not only for desirable appearance but also for their ability to grow well in gardens. That said, cultivars can have a mind of their own. At http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=z300

      I found the following about Ruellia simplex ‘Katie’:

      “Notwithstanding its value as an excellent flowering plant, this species is currently listed as a Category One invasive species by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FEPPC) because it has been found to invade natural areas and displace native flora in the State of Florida. Plants are most invasive in moist areas.”

      I’m glad that in this case the moist area along the creek benefited our common native species.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 21, 2015 at 9:12 AM

  4. Very appealing, and I do like the strip photo.


    August 22, 2015 at 5:55 AM

    • Shoal Creek flows south through the north-central part of Austin. It has a history of flooding, and it did so as recently as this spring when we had unusually heavy rain.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 22, 2015 at 6:40 AM

  5. Love your “fasten your seat belts” idea, Steve! May I borrow that sometime, too?


    August 22, 2015 at 10:19 AM

  6. Wonderful cluster of these flowers, Steve. I really like the panoramic treatment…crop or stitch?

    Steve Gingold

    August 22, 2015 at 4:55 PM

    • The fact that it was an unusually numerous colony of wild petunias is what grabbed my attention.

      The pictures that I regularly post here have been reduced to about half a megapixel, but of course the originals are many times larger. The panorama that comes up from clicking the little strip is an elongated crop of the full-size photograph; that panorama is still reduced for posting here, but not reduced as much as the picture at the top.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 22, 2015 at 7:46 PM

  7. […] one point when I was walking near Shoal Creek in central Austin on August 20th I noticed a mockingbird on the ground that kept coming toward me. It got closer than […]

  8. Both images are lovely!

    Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    August 30, 2015 at 5:57 AM

  9. Beautiful Steve!

    Maria F.

    September 9, 2015 at 9:57 AM

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