Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

First Maximilian sunflowers of the season

with 24 comments

Maximilian Sunflower Flower Heads 4940

Since July I’d been seeing occasional Maximilian sunflower plants, Helianthus maximiliani, but September 5th was the first time this year that I noticed any flowering. The location of this floral epiphany was the land around one of the ponds near the Costco in Cedar Park.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 9, 2015 at 5:37 AM

24 Responses

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  1. Suitable for framing. 😉
    I just discovered your techniques page and viewed the spectacular capture of the two ants in amber on a sunflower. Amazing! So kind of you to share tips for better photography. You really are a master of the macro so sharing is so special to us amateurs as well as to professionals, I am sure!


    September 9, 2015 at 5:55 AM

  2. Steve, we don’t have as many plants from the Asteraceae family as you do. I’m slowly finding some, but I might have to go to the mountains. I found this plant that is supposedly native to Texas:

    Maria F.

    September 9, 2015 at 6:05 AM

    • Not only is Ruellia metziae native to Texas, but it grows right here in Austin, although for some reason I haven’t come across any in the last few years. Meantime, Ruellia nudiflora is as frequent as ever in the summer here, and I see some practically every time I go out in nature at this time of year:


      As for the Asteraceae, you’ve noticed from past posts in this blog (and again from today’s, of course) that we have a lot of plants in that family in Texas—in fact more species than from any other botanical family.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 9, 2015 at 6:35 AM

      • Ruellia nudiflora is not as pubescent as R. tuberosa, from what I could observe in some close-ups. I read in one or two articles that Ruellia metziae is “rare”, and that it grows more in the western part of Texas. R. metziae is erroneously classified in some places. Look here:
        That is erroneously classified.

        Maria F.

        September 9, 2015 at 9:14 AM

  3. I’ve been watching for this one, but haven’t seen it yet. It makes me smile to see all that curliness in the leaves, the rays, and the bracts. At least when it comes to the Maximilians, it seems right to call them a tangle of sunflowers.


    September 9, 2015 at 6:32 AM

    • Your comment made the phrase “Maximilians by the millions” pop into my head. I hope you’ll see that many (or at least thousands) over by the coast soon.

      Given some of the other species I encounter in Austin, I’m inclined to reserve tangle for a couple of vines: greenbrier, which I’ve often enough gotten caught on, and then of course the old man’s beard that appeared in such tangled masses in the last post.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 9, 2015 at 6:47 AM

  4. I have been having a happy sunny time (in the middle of the night) browsing through your maximilian sunflower posts. Glad you are not contending with wild fire haze this time.


    September 9, 2015 at 7:08 AM

    • I like it: having a happy sunny time in the middle of the night. Maximilian sunflowers can do that for a person.

      Fortunately wildfire haze isn’t a problem here this year, but the drought-afflicted states of California and Washington are having a hard time with out-of-control fires.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 9, 2015 at 7:32 AM

  5. It is always such a treat to start the day with something beautiful like this.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    September 9, 2015 at 8:45 AM

    • And living in Seattle, you must get your share of cloudy days that sunflowers are just the right remedy for.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 9, 2015 at 12:37 PM

  6. There is so much beautiful detail in this one. Nice!


    September 9, 2015 at 6:24 PM

    • Yes, these are great sunflowers, and many people don’t know about them. I’m doing my best to spread the word.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 9, 2015 at 9:01 PM

  7. Those are some of the most interesting buds I have ever seen.

    Steve Gingold

    September 10, 2015 at 3:59 PM

    • It’s not clear to me if those were buds that started to open but didn’t make it, or if they were still going to open into normal flower heads like the others in the photograph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 10, 2015 at 4:12 PM

  8. Such a lot going on in this photograph, and yet it’s not busy, which speaks to the skillful composition. “Floral epiphany” is the perfect phrase for it.

    Susan Scheid

    September 20, 2015 at 9:33 AM

    • To tell the truth, Susan, I thought of this more as an informational than as an artful photograph but viewers have liked it well enough. Strangely, in the 15 days since then, I’ve been out in nature a bunch of times but haven’t encountered a single other Maximilian sunflower that’s blooming, so I’m still waiting for the rest to flourish, literally and figuratively.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 20, 2015 at 9:58 AM

  9. They have never looked better than in this photo, Steve. “Floral epiphany” is right.


    October 12, 2015 at 10:48 AM

    • I’m glad you like my expression, Melissa. I’ve been seeing many more Maximilians over the past couple of weeks, as you’ll see from some more-recent posts.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 12, 2015 at 10:52 AM

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