Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Berlandiera lyrata

with 24 comments

Chocolate Daisy Flower Head 9278

In the collection Chantefables et chantefleurs (Sing-fables and Sing-flowers) the 20th-century French poet Robert Desnos included “La Fourmi” (“The Ant”):

Une fourmi de dix-huit mètres
Avec un chapeau sur la tête,
Ça n’existe pas, ça n’existe pas.
Une fourmi traînant un char
Plein de pingouins et de canards,
Ça n’existe pas, ça n’existe pas.
Une fourmi parlant français,
Parlant latin et javanais,
Ça n’existe pas, ça n’existe pas.
Eh ! Pourquoi pas ?

An ant 59 feet long
With a hat on its head:
That doesn’t exist, that doesn’t exist.
An ant pulling a float
Full of penguins and ducks:
That doesn’t exist, that doesn’t exist.
An ant that speaks French,
That speaks Latin and Javanese:
That doesn’t exist, that doesn’t exist.
Hey! Why not?

In that spirit, I’m tempted to ask: A flower that smells like chocolate and grows in the desert? Hey! Why not? Why not indeed, when Berlandiera lyrata, known as chocolate daisy, fits the bill. I found this one on the grounds of old Fort Davis on November 20.

DID YOU KNOW?  Vanilla and chocolate, which serve as the two most popular flavors of ice cream, both originated in Mexico.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 18, 2015 at 5:30 AM

24 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Fantástica imagen e interesantísima flor. Muchas gracias por ella, así como por el poema de Robert Desnos.
    Buen día y un abrazo.

    Isabel F. Bernaldo de Quirós

    December 18, 2015 at 6:11 AM

  2. Not at all surprised about the origin. Plus, a most unusual poem.

    Jim Ruebush

    December 18, 2015 at 10:21 AM

    • That poem has stayed with me over the half-century since I first read it in a French poetry course.

      Perhaps your background in science (even if physical science) led to your not being surprised about the origins of vanilla and chocolate.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 18, 2015 at 10:51 AM

  3. Is this related to the chocolate cosmos? Cosmos atrosanguineus? A lovely chocolatey smell. This is very pretty.


    December 18, 2015 at 1:26 PM

    • I’ve heard of the moon being made of green cheese, but never of the cosmos being made of chocolate.

      Okay, enough frivolity. I see that Cosmos and Berlandiera are both in the Asteroideae subfamily of Asteraceae (the sunflower family), but in different tribes: Coreopsideae and Heliantheae, respectively. The article at


      points out that Cosmos atrosanguineus is extinct in the wild.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 18, 2015 at 1:47 PM

  4. Fabulous flower .. I had no idea about vanilla and chocolate .. Cheers


    December 18, 2015 at 6:00 PM

  5. stunning. have not seen one b4


    December 18, 2015 at 9:26 PM

    • I’d seen cultivated specimens in Austin, where the species doesn’t grow, but this was the first one growing wild in its native habitat that I ever encountered.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 18, 2015 at 9:30 PM

  6. My mother introduced me to Mexican drinking chocolate and vanilla, many years — decades — ago. As a matter of fact, she and her friends used to go over the border to get Mexican vanilla. I still have about half of her last 960 ml. bottle in my cupboard: La Vencedora ~ Vanilla Pura. The brand seems to have won several, or at least some, awards, including Diploma de Honor, Medalla de Oro y Primer Premio in San Luis Potosi in October, 1935. I’ve never read the bottle before. Very interesting. It looks like the company has plants in Veracruz, Tabasco, and Chiapas.

    It’s funny that the flower’s colors look like an Ibarra chocolate package.

    I kept trying to figure out why Berlandiera reminded me of “Berlandia,” and why that sounded so familiar. I finally decided it reminded me of Sibelius’s “Finlandia.” Finland and hot chocolate would be a good combination.


    December 18, 2015 at 10:36 PM

    • I was just reminded that the gulf fritillary butterfly is Agraulis vanillae, presumably because it has something to do with vanilla (even though the host plants that I found listed for this butterfly are various passion flowers). The gulf fritillary is found throughout Mexico.

      Like your mother, I occasionally used to buy vanilla over the border in Mexico, but it’s been so long since then that none remains. La Vencedora means ‘the [female] conqueror.’ From what you said, the brand lived up to its name by “conquering” various competitions. There’s another Mexican connection in the name Berlandiera, which honors Jean-Louis Berlandier, a Frenchman who went to Mexico:


      Steve Schwartzman

      December 19, 2015 at 12:35 AM

    • Astutely observed, your note on the Ibarra packaging resemblance! Bouquets to you for catching that! 😀


      December 21, 2015 at 6:51 PM

  7. You write the most fascinating, interesting, intriguing posts. You really must come to NZ again; I would love to meet you and see NZ through your eyes the way I’m now seeing my native Texas.


    December 21, 2015 at 4:42 AM

    • Thanks, Jenny, for your appreciation of some of these eclectic posts. All the better if they keep you in touch with your native land. It would be rewarding if I could visit NZ again; if so, I’ll do my best to say hello.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 21, 2015 at 6:53 AM

  8. Beautiful flower photo, Steve!!


    December 22, 2015 at 4:06 PM

  9. The poem is delightful, and of course the photographic accompaniment (or perhaps it’s the other way around) is perfect.

    Susan Scheid

    December 25, 2015 at 4:27 PM

    • Desnos was an excellent poet, and not just for children. I’m glad you like him and the chocolate daisy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 26, 2015 at 12:08 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: