Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

More December wildflowers

with 23 comments

Ageratina havanensis 1241

Most of you who visit this blog live well north of the Equator, so the phrase December wildflowers likely strikes you as a contradiction. That’s not the case in Austin, where we always have at least some native wildflowers blooming near the end of the calendar year. In the previous post, for example, you saw a goldeneye flower head as it was opening on December 4, and now here’s one branch of an Ageratina havanensis bush that I found abundantly flowering in my neighborhood on December 18. In fact a few plants of this species in my part of town are still putting out flowers, thanks to the lack of a freeze so far this winter.

Common names for Ageratina havanensis include shrubby boneset, Havana snakeroot, and white mistflower. The white in that last name is an approximation because there’s usually a pale pink tinge in these flowers, and even a bit more in the buds.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 5, 2016 at 5:18 AM

23 Responses

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  1. I have always admired your flowers with sky as the background. It is often my choice too. Loved the pic.


    January 5, 2016 at 6:59 AM

    • I find the clear sky a good way to isolate a subject. There are many shades of blue the sky can take on by itslef, in addition to which the camera’s sensor isn’t a neutral recorder. Here’s to skies.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 5, 2016 at 7:47 AM

  2. Slowly, slowly, this classification business begins to make some sense. I saw and photographed so much blue mistflower this fall, I took one look at this beauty and thought, “This must be the white mistflower I’ve heard about.” And so it is. But when I compared classifications, I found that, although blue and white mistflowers are in the same family, they belong to different genera. (As a bonus, now I know the plural of genus.)

    I do love the white flowers, and this one’s particularly attractive — especially framed as it is against that glorious blue sky.


    January 5, 2016 at 7:25 AM

    • This species used to be classified as Eupatorium havanense (Eupatorium is of neuter gender, so the adjective takes its neuter form, havanense; havanensis is the feminine form of the adjective required to match Ageratina). Similiarly, the blue mistflower used to be Eupatorium (either coelestinum or greggii, depending on which species of blue mistflower we’re talking about). From the form genera you can see where we got the words generate and general; in a similar way, species gave us the adjective special.

      This is the Ageratina havanensis bush I most often photograph because it’s on the street that I take into and out of my neighborhood, so I see it practically every day and know when it’s flowering.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 5, 2016 at 7:59 AM

      • I’d not made the connection between genera and those words it gave rise to, but since you pointed it out, it’s obvious. Not only that, I can see that the order of genus and species, like classification generally, moves from the general to the specific. Taxonomy begins to make sense when I think of it as a more precise and disciplined version of my own increasingly specific classifications: from “pretty flower,” to “sunflower,” to “composite,” to Helianthus. I do love it when the lightbulb turns on.


        January 5, 2016 at 8:43 AM

        • Fiat lux, which is Latin for “Let there be light.”

          Speaking of words based on species, I head someone on television the other day use the noun specificity.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 5, 2016 at 8:51 AM

  3. O, alas, I so used to enjoy saying Eupatorium. But yes, it sure does look like the boneset we have up here. I just checked, and it looks like I still get to say it, as ours is Eupatorium perfoliatum.


    January 5, 2016 at 8:43 AM

  4. At first glance I thought this was an antipodean flower, one of the eucalypts or grevilleas, but the leaves are all wrong. How beautiful it looks against that blue sky, like snow in summer 🙂


    January 5, 2016 at 10:25 AM

    • We could say that it is an antipodean flower as seen by our friends in New Zealand and Australia.

      After days and days and days of overcast here, we’ve now mostly gone back to the kind of clear sky shown a month ago in this picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 5, 2016 at 12:08 PM

  5. Love the unique and interesting flowers; I really enjoy seeing what you have blooming in the Austin area all during the year. I live in the farthest reaches of the Pacific Northwest and I have hellebores, sarcococca, and camellias in bloom right now.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    January 5, 2016 at 10:33 AM

    • My impression is that you don’t often get freezes close to the coast there. If so, that would account for the fact that you, too, have plants blooming at this time of year.

      So-called mistflowers of several species are common down here. Perhaps you have related Eupatoriums up there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 5, 2016 at 12:10 PM

  6. When I first saw the flowers, I also thought boneset as did Melissa. The lack of Eupatorium threw me for a second but nomenclature changes so often these days.

    Steve Gingold

    January 5, 2016 at 7:31 PM

    • A mistflower by any other name would look as “misty,” and a boneset by any other name would set as many bones (which might well be none at all).

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 5, 2016 at 9:59 PM

  7. Beautiful and refreshing!


    January 5, 2016 at 9:48 PM

    • I’ve got more winter wildflowers coming your way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 5, 2016 at 9:59 PM

      • The nearest ski area to where I live is in an area that is full of wildflowers. Unfortunately, at the moment they are all covered by 115 inches of snow, so I’ll enjoy yours!


        January 5, 2016 at 10:06 PM

        • You mean you’re put off by a mere 115 inches of snow? I hope someday I’ll get to see that area in the spring.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 5, 2016 at 10:08 PM

  8. In terms of whiteness and mistiness I am reminded of my white flowering hebe. But the closest plant to the Ageratina havanensis which I have grown in my garden is the ageratum. Possibly this one http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=2456 .


    January 6, 2016 at 2:17 AM

    • I see from your link that that species comes from Mexico and Central America, which puts it not too far from Texas. My understanding is that the genus name Ageratina was chosen because of the resemblance to (and relatedness to) Ageratum.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 6, 2016 at 7:31 AM

  9. Nice shot. I’ve got a couple of blooming A. havanensis in my front yard, but wouldn’t be able to get much sky in the background, since they are under a mountain laurel. I did get a shot of a bee mimic fly on one of the flower clusters, though my initial identification attempts didn’t get a positive result. Thanks for your continued inspiration and edifying illustrations of nature.

    Robert Kamper

    January 6, 2016 at 4:45 AM

    • You’re welcome. Thanks for your continued support.

      I understand how it would be hard to include the sky in a picture of a plant that’s under a mountain laurel. I could barely push myself into a place from which I could see this branch with sky rather than other things behind it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 6, 2016 at 7:35 AM

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