Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Eupatorium serotinum flowering

with 34 comments

Eupatorium serotinum Flowering 6423

On September 29th near the intersection of E. Stassney Ln. and Burleson Dr. in southeast Austin I found some flowering Eupatorium serotinum plants, known as late(-flowering) boneset and late(-flowering) thoroughwort. Those erect reddish stems are a nice touch, don’t you think?

Now here’s a closer look at the dense (and in this case more aged) flowers this species produces:

Eupatporium serotinum Flowers Close 6691

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 7, 2015 at 4:40 AM

34 Responses

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  1. nice


    October 7, 2015 at 4:41 AM

  2. Our Eupatoriums are long past at this point…no late-flowering for us. It’s nice to see a few again.

    Steve Gingold

    October 7, 2015 at 5:32 AM

    • Year after year I see this and similar species flowering here in September, October, and November (and occasionally even after), so I don’t think of them as late but as right on time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 7, 2015 at 5:41 AM

    • Whoever added the “late” to the common name must have been comparing the behavior of species in warmer climates to the behavior of species in colder climates. By that standard, plenty of other wildflowers down here could be called “late,” like goldenrod, which started getting good only last week and hasn’t reached its peak yet.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 7, 2015 at 5:46 AM

    • And one more thing (as a famous Steve used to say near the end of Apple product announcements): given that the plural of Eupatorium is Eupatoria, I get to say that

      Our Eupatoria
      Still bring euphoria.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 7, 2015 at 5:51 AM

    • Hey, did you ever stop to think that we can crank up our comment count by continuing to add comments of our own?

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 7, 2015 at 5:54 AM

    • But of course I would never do such a thing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 7, 2015 at 5:54 AM

    • At least not very often.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 7, 2015 at 5:55 AM

  3. What interesting “common” names! Boneset and Thoroughwort! Love it!

    Art at Hand

    October 7, 2015 at 10:41 AM

    • People in Europe believed one or more of their Eurpatorium species were helpful in setting broken bones. In some species, apparently the branches or stalks appear to grow through (= thorough) the leaves; wort is an old English word for ‘herb’ or ‘plant’ (originally ‘root,’ which is really the same word). Etymology to the rescue.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 7, 2015 at 12:41 PM

  4. Serotinum reminded me of serotonin, so I went exploring. No relationship between those words (serotonin apparently wasn’t coined until 1948), but I did find a nice, shiny new word: serotinal. Merriam-Webster defines it as “of or relating to the latter and usually drier part of summer.” So, Eupatorium serotinum is, in fact, serotinal.

    I’m beginning to think the DYCs have some competition. Everywhere I turn, I’m seeing white flowers: most on bushes, and mostly ones I don’t remember seeing before. This one’s red stems are neat. Just a couple of days ago I finally identified another red-stemmed beauty I found down around El Campo, and that you’ve shown here:Ludwigia octovalvis ssp. octovalvis.

    I found the meaning of ssp., but sorting that out is going to require more than a lunch hour.


    October 7, 2015 at 12:41 PM

    • While you were writing your comment I was using etymology to reply to the previous commenter. I can’t remember if I knew about Latin sērōtĭnus, which an online dictionary says meant ‘coming or happening late, late-ripe, late.’ That adjective was an extended form of sērus, which also meant ‘late.’ I’m assuming that Latin word is behind Italian sera ‘evening,’ as in Buona sera ‘Good evening’ (compare Spanish tarde, which means ‘late’ but also ‘afternoon’ or ‘early evening’). The American Heritage Dictionary gives the English adjective serotinous, and you’ve added serotinal.

      Are the white flowers you’re seeing “misty” like this thoroughwort?

      How botanists decide whether something is a subspecies or a variety is beyond me. I have enough trouble distinguishing one species from another, like the many of Ludwigia in Texas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 7, 2015 at 1:10 PM

      • I finally identified one of the white-flowering shrubs I found at the nature center. It’s Baccharis halimifolia — a real beauty, and prolific. I didn’t take any photos of it, but here are a few, and a distribution map.

        I noticed your comment to Jim about Conoclinium. I think I found some raggedy and fading blue mistflower, too. I’m anxious to get back and see if I can get some better photos of that, and of the yellow not-partridge-pea. I’m thinking that one might be birdsfoot trefoil, which also is in the pea family, but I need to check out its leaves, seed pods, and such.


        October 7, 2015 at 8:46 PM

        • I’d read about Baccharis halimifolia and I believe I finally got to see some two years ago in Heavener, Oklahoma:


          The Baccharis neglecta isn’t neglecting its floral duty here; I’ve begun to see buds and early flowers. In contrast, I’ve seen only a little bit of Conoclinium in Austin so far this year. Perhaps you’ll do better than I’ve done in finding some. Good luck also in identifying the yellow non-partridge-pea pea flower.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 7, 2015 at 10:03 PM

  5. We went on a nature hike this morning with a naturalist guide. We saw many plants that have the same late summer-early fall look as your eupatorium.

    The guide lifted a board and grabbed the rear end of a blue racer snake. It wouldn’t let go. That’s all we saw of it. On the sidewalk was a 14″ long ringnecked. What a pretty little snake. http://www.discoverlife.org/IM/I_TPN/0038/320/Diadophis_punctatus,I_TPN3810.jpg

    On a later walk, we watched a Great Blue Heron do some flybys near us. Graceful and prehistoric.

    Jim in IA

    October 7, 2015 at 2:03 PM

    • That’s one pretty snake indeed. I wish we had them in Austin.

      There are various “mistflower’ genera, including (in Austin) Eupatorium, Ageratina and Conoclinium. This is the time of year when they do their thing, and therefore when I do my thing with them.

      Sound like the time of year in Iowa when a person can go out in nature and neither roast nor freeze.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 7, 2015 at 2:14 PM

      • Yes it is a good time of year here. Today, we are at Honey Creek Resort in south central IA. It is about 75˚ and sunny with no wind. Seldom do days come any nicer.

        Jim in IA

        October 7, 2015 at 2:59 PM

      • …and the thing about the mistflowers (Ageratina havanensis, anyway) is that they attract multitudes of butterflies and other insect nectar feeders and pollinators. And yet, none in these two photos…do you see this as systemic or is this an anomaly?


        October 8, 2015 at 9:57 AM

        • I normally see plenty of bees, wasps, and flies drawn to these flowers, so this insect-free pair of photos strikes me as atypical.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 8, 2015 at 10:01 AM

  6. The advantage of coming ‘serotinus’_ly is that I find all the etymological work done for me. Your many comments Steve remind me of some of my entries on Facebook, where I find myself talking to myself or my own face.


    October 8, 2015 at 5:51 AM

    • You’re welcome to/for the etymology. I have fun digging around in word histories, both for my own sake and for others’. As for talking to ourselves, we all do. I wonder if psychologists have carried out experiments to determine the average amount.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 8, 2015 at 10:05 AM

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