Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Compare and contrast, as English teachers are wont to say

with 16 comments

Partridge Pea Flower Against Liatris Flowers 5951

Speaking, as I did yesterday, of partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) and blazing-star (Liatris mucronata), here’s the one in the curving embrace of the other on the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on the 15th of September. Note the color harmony between the stamens of the blazing-star and those of the partridge pea. In the world of differences, contrast the partially overlapped little leaflets of the partridge pea with the long, narrow, and stiff leaves of the Liatris. And of course the most prominent feature of the partridge pea, the bright yellow of its flower petals, has no match in the other species.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 24, 2015 at 5:24 AM

16 Responses

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  1. Well, I want to say this is one glorious photo, and a beautiful example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Not only that, their “untidiness” doesn’t detract one bit from the overall impression. I’m so fond of these colors. Maybe there should be a couplet for them, too, like “purple and yellow, please a fellow.”


    September 24, 2015 at 6:46 AM

    • I’m glad you not only wanted to say but did say that this is one glorious photo, and a beautiful example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. From observing how plants grow in proximity to and even in contact with each other, I’ve often thought in terms of combinations of species rather than a species in isolation, although both ways of looking are valid. An individual species may grow across a broad region, but a given combination is generally found in a more restricted region. The more species appear together, the more limited is the range where they naturally all grow. Combinations are what make here here and not somewhere else.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2015 at 7:22 AM

      • I’ve been thinking about this business of species combinations, and realized I may have seen it last weekend.

        I’ve seen erect dayflower in great masses, from my nearby vacant lot, to Goliad, to the El Campo corridor. And, right now, what I’ve tentatively identified as sharp-pod morning glory (Ipomoea trichocarpa) seems to be taking over the world. And yet, despite the current abundance of huge colonies of both flowers, the only place I’ve seen both in equal numbers is that half-mile stretch of Highway 71. It’s really interesting. If I get my chores done today, and the weather cooperates, I’m thinking of heading back over there tomorrow for a more leisurely look.


        September 26, 2015 at 7:42 AM

        • An earlier reference of yours led me to assume that the purple flowers you’ve been seeing en masse are Ipomoea trichocarpa, which I normally call purple bindweed, having picked up that common name from Marshall Enquist’s Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country, the bible of wildflowers in these here parts. Those flowers are going great guns here, too, which may mean I’ll have to go out and photograph some soon. Happy looking if you make it out tomorrow.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 26, 2015 at 7:51 AM

    • I think photographers often look for pristine specimens, but untidiness is more the norm in nature.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2015 at 7:49 AM

  2. They make a lovely couple. Partridge Pea is a bit of a clinging vine.

    Steve Gingold

    September 24, 2015 at 7:05 AM

  3. I have Liatris mucronata in my garden, it has been so dry this year that it really struggled…Love your image the colors are absolutely gorgeous.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    September 24, 2015 at 5:19 PM

    • I would have thought that even a dry year in Seattle has more rain than an average year in Austin.

      Yes, the two colors do go well together, and that’s what attracted me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2015 at 5:22 PM

  4. Your partridge pea is perfectly partnered by the purple star 🙂


    September 25, 2015 at 10:25 AM

    • Positively, and if the star were a planet you could have extended your alliterated p’s one step farther.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 25, 2015 at 1:28 PM

      • I admit, I struggled with that…


        September 25, 2015 at 1:48 PM

        • Strangely, strongly, stridently, strenuously, strainingly, strivingly, and strikingly struggled, I assume.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 25, 2015 at 3:53 PM

  5. I’ve noticed that purple and yellow are the two main color notes here in Illinois all season long. Different flowers, of course, but almost always purple and yellow. I noticed it because one year I wanted to paint a prairie in all seasons, and so wanted to paint swathes of color that represented what was blooming…it didn’t really work! Every painting looked pretty much the same, even though in my head I was painting phlox and puccoons, maybe, and then Liatris and Sunflowers, and then asters and goldenrods. I do think this is a wonderful photo. I much prefer the messiness of nature 🙂


    November 16, 2015 at 8:19 AM

    • The interesting point you’ve raised makes me wonder if anyone has ever done a wildflower color survey of a given locale. I guess that would require recording, at evenly spaced intervals throughout the year, how many flowers of each main color there were. The sizes of the flowers might have to be taken into account too. I can see many other complications, and maybe that’s why no one has done such a survey (assuming no one has).

      In any case, I’m glad this familiar (to you) color combination strikes your fancy. Of the last four kinds of flowers you mentioned, sunflowers, goldenrod, and asters are still blooming in modest amounts around here. In fact we noticed just yesterday afternoon in the median of an expressway that some Helianthus annuus plants that had long since gone to seed and dried out had put out some new flower heads, presumably due to the recent heavy rain here. The extra water seems to have extended the life of the goldenrod as well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 16, 2015 at 8:40 AM

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