Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A better look at partridge pea when it isn’t yellow or green

with 12 comments

Partridge Pea Plant Turned Red with Cumulus Clouds 1199

And here’s a look at a red partridge pea plant, Chamaecrista fasciculata, in isolation against the sky and cumulus clouds above the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on July 16th.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, point 24 in About My Techniques applies to this photograph.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 29, 2015 at 5:20 AM

12 Responses

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  1. Now this, I didn’t expect. I assumed you were talking about the flowers turning red, so that’s what I saw in the previous photo. This is a dramatic change, and really quite attractive. It’s like a little early autumn color.


    August 29, 2015 at 6:18 AM

    • When I read your comment on the previous partridge pea picture, in which the red areas were tiny elements in the prairie landscape, I sensed that you imagined flowers turning red rather than whole plants, as you now see in this clarifying image. I’d seen some of these reddened plants from time to time but didn’t realize what they were until eventually I found some close enough to fresh partridge pea plants that I made the connection. As you say, it’s a bit of pre-autumn red foliage, always welcome in a land that doesn’t know how to emulate the North on a grand scale in the fall.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2015 at 7:26 AM

  2. As I learn to recognize plants, I am disappointed to find how few are natives. Partridge pea is thriving in my area.


    August 29, 2015 at 6:27 AM

    • I wonder if so few of the plants near you are native because you live in an agricultural area where the land has been repeatedly cleared and non-native crops planted for generations. A plant list for Travis County shows that while we have a few hundred non-natives, we still have several times that that are native. Of course that’s a species count, and I don’t know how the percentages fall out for individual plants or for the portion of ground covered on average. I can say with certainty, though, that I never lack for plenty of natives to photograph, a reality that has let me keep this blog going with a daily picture for over four years.

      In any case, happy partridge pea to you in north Texas. The species is native in many parts of America, and you may have noticed that my namesake nature photographer in Massachusetts coincidentally featured it yesterday:


      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2015 at 7:37 AM

      • Good point… You often get me researching. I found a plant list for Red River County in a masters thesis from 1930… Thank you for another photography blog to follow. Cheers!


        August 31, 2015 at 4:56 AM

        • Research is fun, no question, and the Internet makes it easier than ever (assuming you can rely on what you find). The Internet is also the purveyor of blogs, which give people an easy outlet for their views of the world.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 31, 2015 at 5:03 AM

  3. Well now, this tells me that I am not finished with Pp quite yet. I think I need to suggest to Winsor Newton that they introduce Schwartzman Blue.

    Steve Gingold

    August 29, 2015 at 10:43 AM

    • Ah, I thought it would be a shade of red. Do partridge pea plants change color like that where you are, or might that be a hot-climate phenomenon?

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2015 at 10:57 AM

      • I was referring to your signature sky background which you do so well.

        I don’t know, Steve. That’s why I am not finished with it. I’ll report in later.

        Steve Gingold

        August 29, 2015 at 11:03 AM

        • The end of your comment clinched the blue, but before I got that far my mind ran to red because of the partridge pea. I’m eager to hear what you find out about partridge pea foliage in your area.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 29, 2015 at 11:35 AM

  4. They do turn red, and so do a few others. I really enjoy coming across a little jolt of red in the middle of a green green green summer. Let me think, now~ sumac will sometimes show a little red at the ankle mid summer, as will poison ivy. I think I’ve seen grey dogwood also do it. One year a big patch of smartweed went all red and maroon~it was a sight!


    September 14, 2015 at 12:34 PM

    • You raise a good point about certain other species also having leaves that can turn red well before autumn. I’ve seen leaves of smartweed and poison ivy and sumac do that (they’re the three of the four you mentioned that we have here, though not necessarily the same species you have up there). I don’t believe I’ve ever seen as much red partridge pea foliage as I did this year, and that’s why it caught my attention—just as the maroon smartweed caught yours.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 14, 2015 at 3:56 PM

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