Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

View from Skyline Drive

with 36 comments

Sotol with Seed Stalk 9185

Late in the afternoon on November 20th we turned off into Davis Mountains State Park and drove to the top of Skyline Drive. The prominently pointy and sawtooth-edged plants you see here, including the one whose seed stalk is so tall, are sotol. Two species of Dasylirion grow in this area, but I’m afraid I can’t tell you which one this is. Look beyond the sotol to the land stretched out below and you’ll get a good feel for the vastness and aridity of west Texas.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 1, 2015 at 4:46 AM

36 Responses

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  1. We have a Skyline Drive in Virginia too but it looks vastly different from yours😅


    December 1, 2015 at 5:24 AM

    • You said it when it comes to being different. The Skyline Drive in Virginia is 105 miles long, while the one in Davis Mountains State Park goes for only a few miles before dead-ending at the summit near where I took this picture. Each place has its charms.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 1, 2015 at 8:10 AM

  2. I was surprised to read that “so tall” can be as much as nine to fifteen feet. I especially like the X-marks-the-spot feel of the photo, with the vertical and horizontal crossing at the midpoints of the plant and the mountains. That you managed to tuck the plant into the gap between the two peaks is a bonus.


    December 1, 2015 at 5:26 AM

    • In looking back at my archive, I see that I took eight pictures of this so tall sotol, and in each one I positioned the camera in a way that lined up the stalk with the notch in the distant mountains. Sotol is attractive enough that many people plant it in Austin, but I’m happy that I could see it growing wild in its native habitat. The same is true for cenizo

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 1, 2015 at 8:23 AM

  3. Beautiful view!

    Traveling Rockhopper

    December 1, 2015 at 5:54 AM

    • We’d visited the Davis Mountains ten-and-a-half years earlier but didn’t go on (or even know about, I think) the Skyline Drive.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 1, 2015 at 8:29 AM

  4. This is just what I think of when I think of Texas. Just beautiful. The plant…looks like a cross between a grass and an aloe. I’ve never seen anything like it.


    December 1, 2015 at 8:52 AM

  5. It’s vast, it’s arid, it’s stark, but it is a beautiful landscape. We enjoyed it a lot when we were there for our honeymoon.


    December 1, 2015 at 9:49 AM

    • In Tristan und Isolde, Wagner wrote “Öd und leer das Meer,” but the description could just as well apply to the desert of west Texas. You’re the first person I’ve encountered who had a honeymoon there. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 1, 2015 at 5:02 PM

      • Steve,
        I did know the words, but I didn’t know they were from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. As to the West Texas desert, it is not as “oed und leer” as one is led to believe from the looks of the landscape. We stayed at Fort Davis’ “Veranda Inn” for our honeymoon and did a lot of driving around. And, as I said, we really enjoyed the area. We’d love to go back there (some time soon, maybe).
        P.S.: We had an interesting experience with the Border Patrol [http://tinyurl.com/jp5ynws].


        December 1, 2015 at 5:46 PM

        • You’re right that in spite of the fact that the Big Bend area is a desert, it is still home to many kinds of plants and animals. I saw my share of wildflowers there too, even though my visit wasn’t in the spring.

          I read your anecdote and am sorry for your ordeal, but I was already aware that things must have turned out well because you’re still here.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 1, 2015 at 8:24 PM

          • The ordeal was more for my wife who had to stay outside in her car and wasn’t told anything of what was happening to me. I didn’t feel too worried as the Border Patrol people were very polite.


            December 2, 2015 at 7:20 AM

  6. It is a vast landscape that does not seem to end as you drive across it…Interesting plant.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    December 1, 2015 at 1:57 PM

    • Tell me about it: getting out to the Big Bend region from Austin takes a good six or seven hours, even though the speed limit on much of Interstate 10 out there is 80 miles per hour.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 1, 2015 at 5:22 PM

  7. Parece difícil que la flor pueda mantenerse en pie. Muy bonita foto.

  8. I like the way you cleft the two buttes. Referring to an earlier comment by me, this is more what I think of when Texas comes to mind than the intimate you recently shared. I’ll amend that with large never-ending stands of Texas bluebells.

    Steve Gingold

    December 1, 2015 at 4:44 PM

  9. I can’t think of anything witty or clever to write, Steve. I just love this scene. It takes me back to my Australian outback years. I love those blue skies and open spaces and the stalk sets it off.


    December 2, 2015 at 5:24 AM

    • From the pictures I’ve seen and from what you say, the Australian outback has a lot in common with the American West. Too bad I can’t drive from here to your outback in six hours.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 2, 2015 at 8:38 AM

  10. This is a great photo – I like the vastness of the landscape and your perspective with the nice grass in the foreground…


    December 8, 2015 at 3:26 PM

    • A vast landscape it is indeed, the real American West. I was glad to be able to drive up on the Skyline Drive to get this perspective.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 8, 2015 at 4:38 PM

  11. […] showing you a so-tall sotol, I thought I should show you another tall-stalked plant that grows in the Chihuahuan Desert, the […]

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