Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A Liatris colony on the Blackland Prairie

with 15 comments

Flowering Liatris Colony Landscape 5832

You recently saw a closeup of a flowering blazing-star stalk, Liatris mucronata, so to balance that here’s a broader view from September 15th showing what a colony of these plants looks like. The land you see here is in the southeast quadrant of Wells Branch Parkway and Heatherwilde Blvd. on the Blackland Prairie at the southern fringe of Pflugerville. The dots of yellow farther back are partridge pea flowers.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 23, 2015 at 4:42 AM

15 Responses

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  1. I do like balance for the equinox.


    September 23, 2015 at 5:42 AM

    • Good point: I hadn’t thought about balance with regard to the equinox, but maybe my subconscious did—and your conscious certainly did.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 23, 2015 at 7:45 AM

  2. Well, look at that. I found the intersection, and discovered it’s not far from New Sweden and Jollyville. I’ve never been to those places — I’ve never been to Pflugerville, for that matter — but if this is an indication of the treasures to be found there, it would be worth a visit. The view’s beautiful, and just one more reminder that bluebonnets aren’t the beginning and end of what’s worth seeing, wildflower-wise.


    September 23, 2015 at 7:23 AM

    • It came as a revelation to me in 1999 when I learned (and began to see first-hand) how many hundreds of native species we have here. Bluebonnets are pretty and smell nice, but they’ve been done to death in the iconography (and kitsch) of Texas.

      The Blackland prairie swings down from the north on the east side of Austin and other towns. The biggest extant and accessible piece of it in my area has been the one that includes this parcel. Beginning in 1999 and for years afterwards I roamed the land freely there, but development has now claimed increasing sections, and even some of the remaining parts have been fenced off and are no longer available for wandering and photographing. Eventually almost all of them will be built on, given the continuing rapid population growth here. In the meantime I take advantage of what still exists and isn’t fenced off.

      There isn’t really a town of Jollyville any more, but we live a mile from Jollyville Rd, which parallels US 183 and is an alternative to it for some drivers during rush hours. New Sweden, out on the prairie, has an old cemetery you’d probably enjoy, with tombstones written in Swedish. The land out there is mostly still farms.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 23, 2015 at 7:56 AM

  3. It sure is pretty country. Is this prairie mesic? It has that look about it to me. I wish a group would sweep in and buy that land for a preserve.


    September 23, 2015 at 8:04 AM

    • Given the choice among mesic, xeric and hydric, I’d have to say you’re correct that it’s mesic.

      More than a decade ago I went with some people to a meeting of the Round Rock City Council, during which we proposed that the city buy a certain tract of prairie and keep it undeveloped, but that never materialized. Since then the value of the land in the Austin area has continued to go up and up and up as the population continues to expand.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 23, 2015 at 8:18 AM

      • A familiar story.


        September 23, 2015 at 9:56 AM

        • The prairie side on the east is flat and less expensive to build on than the hilly western side where I live, and where more land has been set aside as preserves.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 23, 2015 at 2:19 PM

          • Yeah, so all that lovliness will disappear under pavement. No fair. How come those of us who can see its beauty aren’t the ones who get to decide its future?


            September 23, 2015 at 3:36 PM

  4. I always find it such a treat when the wildflowers pop up through the grasses; I’m always enchanted when they take over an area and create carpets of color.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    September 23, 2015 at 9:28 AM

    • We have a lot of grasses on the prairie here, and we also have lots of wildflowers, so we often see the two kinds of plants together. Afternoon temperatures are still in the 90s, but we’re way into botanical fall already, with Liatris being one sign of that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 23, 2015 at 9:39 AM

  5. I always enjoy the unusual…to me anyway…names of places and Pflugerville sounds interesting and appears to be the only one in the U.S. I am not quite sure how many Amhersts there are, but a bunch both in the U.S. and Canada.
    That’s a bunch of blazing stars.

    Steve Gingold

    September 23, 2015 at 5:35 PM

    • Pflug is the German word for ‘plow,’ so a Pfluger is ‘a plower,’ in other words ‘a farmer.’ Coincidentally, the person from whom Pflugerville got its name was a farmer. As Wikipedia reports:

      “The area was initially settled by German immigrant Henry Pfluger, Sr. (1803–67) and members of his family from late 1849 into early 1850. Pfluger had been a wealthy farmer in Germany, but lost all of his property during the Prussian War. He arrived in the country with $1,600 and purchased 160 acres (0.65 km2) of land two miles (3 km) east of Austin from John Liese, a brother-in-law who had immigrated before him. In 1853, Pfluger paid Liese $960 for a 960-acre (3.9 km2) tract of land in an area known as Brushy Knob. There, the family lived in a five-room log cabin and raised corn, wheat, rye, beans, sweet potatoes, and sugar cane. The Pfluger family also owned several slaves, some whom were conversant in German.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 23, 2015 at 6:14 PM

  6. […] as I did yesterday, of partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) and blazing-star (Liatris mucronata), here’s the […]

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