Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Prairie agalinis in front of Texas lantana

with 35 comments

Prairie Agalinis Flower by Lantana Flowers 5062

After a far and then a somewhat nearer look last time at prairie agalinis, Agalinis heterophylla, here’s an even closer look at a flower of that species. Note its speckled throat and the fringe of tiny hairs on its petals. This time there are no partridge peas in the background but instead a flowering Texas lantana, Lantana urticoides. Today’s view is from September 14th in the Blunn Creek Preserve in south Austin.

Two weeks ago I learned that botanists have moved the genus Agalinis from the figwort family, Scrophulariaceae, into a family with a scientific name I don’t remember having heard of, Orobanchaceae, known as the broomrape family. Live and learn (and if you’re in the world of botany, relearn and relearn and relearn…).

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 3, 2015 at 4:50 AM

35 Responses

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  1. It’s a gorgeous purple colour and the details are lovely, Steve, but what caught my attention the most was the mention of lantana. It’s a really invasive exotic weed here in Australia, completely choking many areas of bushland. It’s a shame because the flowers are really so very pretty and many insects are attracted to them as well. I’ve often stopped to take photos of the glorious variations of colour on one plant but never shared them on my blog as it’s regarded as such a problem here. It was brought here originally to use as a garden hedge but and it flourished in our warm conditions.


    October 3, 2015 at 6:31 AM

    • Agalinis flowers can be paler and less saturated, but this one certainly looks rich.

      What a different status lantana has in our antipodean worlds. I know where to find lantana growing wild in its native habitat in Great Hills Park, less than half a mile from home. (Unfortunately, some people in Austin insist on planting Caribbean species of lantana rather than our native one.) Over there, lantana is an alien invasive. I may have told you how surprised I was during my visit to Australia 10 years ago when I went walking one afternoon close to the sea in Wollongong and found my familiar lantana flowering by the side of the path I was on. The remedy for you is to visit Austin and see lantana in its homeland.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 3, 2015 at 6:52 AM

    • Jane, I happened to be reading some chapters of Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall. She was supposedly very interested in protecting and promoting Australian wildlife, so I was tickled by her reference to lantana in the first chapter of Blinky Bill and Nutsy “The keeper gave the lantana bushes a savage kick with his boot to show the contempt he had for that rubbish” http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks04/0400581h.html Perhaps it would be good to share your photos on your blog so that people are aware of just how much it is a problem. Dorothy Wall started writing her books in 1933, and I expect that many children back then and even today didn’t/don’t realise what a problem lantana is.


      October 4, 2015 at 3:12 AM

      • Thank you very much for that link. I am familiar with the Blinky Bill series but hadn’t remembered the reference to lantana. I hadn’t realised it was such a problem way back then. I will take your idea on board and try to include some pictures and information in a blog post down the track. Thanks very much for your comment. 🙂


        October 4, 2015 at 3:21 AM

        • I haven’t read Blinky Bill in years. I am now wondering what other references there may be to noxious weeds and other nasties.


          October 4, 2015 at 3:27 AM

          • Yes, it has me wondering too. I should revisit some old childhood books. 🙂


            October 4, 2015 at 3:28 AM

            • And then there is May Gibbs, too, although I think her influence was more in introducing children and people to the wonders of Australian wildlife.


              October 4, 2015 at 3:49 AM

              • Oh yes, May Gibbs really helped people to appreciate the uniqueness of our Australian flora and fauna. Every time I see banksias, I think of “Banksia Man”. Her illustrations were lovely.


                October 4, 2015 at 4:55 AM

                • I grew up with Snugglepot and Cuddlepie but living in Fiji I really didn’t have much idea about some of the plants, like the Banksia. I was trying to see if New Zealand had anything similar. I can only find this series http://www.penguin.co.nz/products/9780143507055/adventures-hutu-and-kawa, which I definitely knew nothing about as a child. Strange, considering my family background is NZ.


                  October 4, 2015 at 5:28 AM

                • I see from your link that Pohutukawa gave birth to two babies, Hutu and Kawa, but what happened to Po?

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 4, 2015 at 8:07 AM

                • A good but disturbing question. Perhaps Po is not mentioned in polite company because Po made a dreadful Northern alliance with Taily. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that.)


                  October 5, 2015 at 12:43 AM

                • In that case, Po would have high-tailed it right out of there.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 5, 2015 at 6:56 AM

                • Your reference to Snugglepot and Cuddlepie sent me searching, and I turned up an excerpt from a recorded interview with May Gibbs in 1968.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 4, 2015 at 9:09 AM

                • Yes, that is a wonderful interview. I would love to see more of her other work ie a May Gibbs retrospective or something like that. She was very talented.


                  October 4, 2015 at 5:46 PM

                • Not being familiar with the reference, I searched for Banksia Man and turned up plenty of images.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 4, 2015 at 8:32 AM

                • Banksia Man was definitely memorable, Steve. 🙂


                  October 4, 2015 at 8:48 AM

                • According to Wikipedia: “The genus name honours the English botanist Sir Joseph Banks, who collected the first Banksia specimens in 1770, during James Cook’s first expedition.” The article about Banks tells us:

                  “Sir Joseph Banks, 1st Baronet, GCB, PRS (24 February [O.S. 13 February] 1743 – 19 June 1820) was an English naturalist, botanist and patron of the natural sciences.

                  “Banks made his name on the 1766 natural history expedition to Newfoundland and Labrador. He took part in Captain James Cook’s first great voyage (1768–1771), visiting Brazil, Tahiti, and, after 6 months in New Zealand, Australia, returning to immediate fame. He held the position of President of the Royal Society for over 41 years. He advised King George III on the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and by sending botanists around the world to collect plants, he made Kew the world’s leading botanical gardens.

                  “Banks advocated British settlement in New South Wales and colonisation of Australia, as well as the establishment of Botany Bay as a place for the reception of convicts, and advised the British government on all Australian matters. He is credited with introducing the eucalyptus, acacia, and the genus named after him, Banksia, to the Western world. Approximately 80 species of plants bear his name. He was the leading founder of the African Association and a member of the Society of Dilettanti which helped to establish the Royal Academy.”

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 4, 2015 at 9:02 AM

                • Yes, Sir Joseph Banks is certainly quite a famous botanist and was featured on our old $5 paper notes. Banksias are actually a favourite Australian flora of mine. 🙂


                  October 4, 2015 at 9:19 AM

                • Wow: a botanist on a bank note. I don’t think that could ever happen in the United States. I’m sorry to hear he’s been phased out.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 4, 2015 at 9:22 AM

                • Cynical old me thinks you’d have an American football player on our money long before you’d ever have any sort of scientist. On the positive side, at least our stamps have recognized some scientists.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 4, 2015 at 9:26 AM

      • It’s good to have awoken beyond the eastern side of the Pacific to find this conversation that had taken place across the Tasman Sea.

        Steve Schwartzman

        October 4, 2015 at 8:42 AM

  2. Gorgeous photo~ a feast for my eyes. That is an interesting family change. They must have discovered that they are parasitic in part.


    October 3, 2015 at 10:13 AM

    • My impression is that the parasitism of Agalinis has been known for some time. I also have the impression that many of the recent reclassifications are due to improved DNA analysis. I readily admit, though, to knowing little about such things—and more about taking photographs. I’m glad you found this one a feast for your eyes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 3, 2015 at 10:28 AM

  3. Lantana is beautiful so I am glad it has a place where it doesn’t have to be kicked. 🙂


    October 4, 2015 at 3:15 AM

  4. It was only a couple of years ago that I learned there’s native lantana and imported lantana. Even then, I was confused for a while, thinking that the pink and yellow flowers belonged to the native — of course they don’t. Ours are much prettier and more interesting, as they change from yellow to orange to red.

    The Agalinis reminds me of foxglove, which apparently is a common name for a variety of Penstemon. It seems I’m a couple of months late to be looking for foxglove, but maybe I can find some Agalinis, now that I know it exists.

    I did see some goldenrod beginning to bloom last night, and something else that seemed vaguely familiar. It was fairly tall, willowy, and seemed to be surrounded by a white cloud. At 4 a.m. I woke up thinking, Baccharis neglecta! I was greatly amused that it was the scientific name I remembered, instead of poverty weed.


    October 4, 2015 at 6:10 AM

    • See how effortlessly your subconscious is turning you into a botanist. It can be hard for anyone’s mind, however, to keep up with the continuing changes in botany. Your mention of the similar-looking flowers of Penstemon sent me looking and I turned up this Wikipedia statement: “Penstemon /ˈpɛnstɨmən/, the beardtongues, is a large genus of North American and East Asian flowering plants formerly placed in the Scrophulariaceae family (Cronquist system). Due to new genetic research, it has now been placed in the vastly expanded family Plantaginaceae.” So both Penstemon and Agalinis have been moved, but to different families.

      I’ve been excited this past week to see Baccharis neglecta plants budding and some even just beginning to flower. We’ve got some fluffy weeks ahead.

      As for lantana, I don’t know why so many people choose the non-native species when we have such an appealing native one. The lantana flowers behind this Agalinis were especially richly colored.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2015 at 9:39 AM

  5. Absolutamente maravillosa.
    Absolutely stunning! Beautifully captured.

  6. I do love the splash of pink-lavender, the spotted throat make this flower really special.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    October 4, 2015 at 2:46 PM

    • With all the ragweed and sumpweed flowering here now, my throat has also gotten to feeling rather spotted when I go out in nature.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2015 at 3:13 PM

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