Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Not a normal February juxtaposition

with 29 comments

Small Palafoxia Flower Head by Square-Bud Primrose Flower 4143

On February 7th I was driving north on the access road of Interstate 35 in far north Austin when I saw some unaccustomedly early square-bud primrose flowers, Calylophus berlandieri, also known as sundrops because of their bright yellow color. I pulled over and walked back to take noisy pictures of them (with the noise coming from the fast-moving traffic). Then I was surprised to notice some flower heads of small palafoxia, Palafoxia callosa, which is traditionally a species that blooms from late summer through fall, but here we were only a week into February. I assume the palafoxia is a holdover from 2015 rather than an advance guard from 2016’s seasonal crop. The shadowed structure is a set of palafoxia buds just beginning to open.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 10, 2016 at 4:55 AM

29 Responses

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  1. Purple and yellow; a favourite colour combination of mine. When I was a young one I loved to make paper dolls. Purple and yellow featured in many of the paper outfits I designed for the dolls. We didn’t have TV, we saw few films, and read very few magazines, so I can only suppose my colourful ideas came from the natural colours around me. In particular, our beautiful Pride of India as well as the Golden Shower trees.


    February 10, 2016 at 6:39 AM

    • Over here we have some little rhymes for distinguishing between harmful and harmless snakes that look similar, but as there was no venom in your childhood pastime, what occurs to me is that purple and yellow made your dolls mellow. Does any of your young dollery survive?

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 10, 2016 at 7:48 AM

  2. Color is one of the true treasures of our world, your post is such a wonderful start to my day.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    February 10, 2016 at 8:43 AM

  3. Great colour juxtaposition!!

    Sarah Longes - Mirador Design

    February 10, 2016 at 6:53 PM

  4. All this odd behavior and weather. It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature.

    Lucky you. After all my complaining that we were too warm and missing winter, it’s making up for lost time. Weather has a habit of doing that. 50’s last week…below zero this weekend.

    Steve Gingold

    February 10, 2016 at 7:44 PM

    • I don’t mind being fooled this way if it means I can get unusual pictures.

      In contrast to your area, we’ve had day after day of sunny weather (though a bit breezy), with highs creeping up into the 60s and 70s. Naturally I’ve kept going out to take more pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 10, 2016 at 8:01 PM

      • As I would expect. Sunday will be the colder of the days with a morning expected temperature of -10° which would not usually keep me housebound, but the wind chill of-30° might do it.

        Steve Gingold

        February 10, 2016 at 8:08 PM

        • A wind chill of –30° would definitely keep me home. A windless temperature of –10° probably would too.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 10, 2016 at 10:59 PM

  5. For two years, I’ve missed early spring wildflowers.Your post is a reminder that, whether the flowers are holdovers or an advance guard, I’d best get myself out there. It tickles me that, while people in more northern climes are excitedly posting photos of their snowdrops, we have sundrops. That suits me just fine.

    I remember your earlier posts about palafoxia because I associated them with Palafox Pier in Pensacola. And now I remember again how I enjoyed mixing and matching my plastic Easter eggs as a kid, putting yellow and purple halves together. Perhaps some of our early spring flowers — forsythia and violets — influenced my sense that purple and yellow belong together.


    February 11, 2016 at 7:25 AM

    • It sounds like you’ve already psyched yourself up to compensate for the last two years by gadding about in nature now. Austin doesn’t have a lot of wildflowers yet, and your area may not either, but there are bound to be some. (Unfortunately the is the season for little European invasives like henbit, pin clover, and shepherd’s purse, all of which I’ve seen. There was a lot of henbit flowering yesterday in one site along the entrance road to Bastrop State Park.)

      My mother planted some forsythia around our house on Long Island, so it was one of the few botanical things I knew as a kid. Some people in Austin plant it too, probably for the same reason my mother must have, because it flowers at a time of year when people crave color, especially a sunny yellow, as the winter winds down. That said, Austin didn’t have much of winter this year.

      I don’t know how purple and yellow came to be associated with Easter. Some “traditions” are hardly traditions at all. Last year I read that blue for baby boys and pink for baby girls goes back only to the period around World War II.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 11, 2016 at 7:49 AM

  6. Beautiful Steve 😀


    February 11, 2016 at 10:39 PM

  7. The mild winter over here in the UK is causing wild flowers to bloom two months earlier than usual – Spring, when it arrives, could be a strange season with some species entirely missing from the usual run of things.


    February 13, 2016 at 12:02 PM

    • I read about that the other day from someone else in the UK. Naturally I was surprised to hear that wildflowers were already coming out so far north. I wonder whether your blooming-earlier-than-usual species will put out a second round of flowers at their usual time. It’s only mid-February, so there’s also still a chance that a freeze will put an end to all your premature flowering.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 13, 2016 at 1:14 PM

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