Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Mexican devilweed

with 15 comments

Mexican Devilweed 3841

Chloracantha spinosa (which used to be classified as Aster spinosus but is the only species in its current genus) has an off-putting common name: Mexican devilweed. Having seen this native plant only a few times, I was devilishly happy to come across one on February 4 at the edge of Muir Lake (dammed-up Buttercup Creek) in the town of Cedar Park, just a few minutes’ walk from the scene you saw in the previous post.

The little puffball seed heads tell you that this is another member of the sunflower family, like the silverpuff that recently appeared here. Leaves on this species tend to be tiny or absent, but the green (Greek chlor-) stems carry out photosynthesis. The linked source gives a bloom period of May–October, and closer to home Shinners and Mahler’s Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas says June-October, but here was Mexican devilweed flowering at the beginning of February. A rear guard? An advance guard? A freak? Take your pick.

If you’d like to see the places in the southwestern quadrant of the United States where Chloracantha spinosa grows, you can consult the USDA map.

So much for an informational picture. Now let’s get serious with this closer and more-abstract view of a devilweed flower head striving to open:

Mexican Devilweed Flower Head Opening 3864

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 21, 2016 at 5:03 AM

15 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. It looks far from devilish!


    February 21, 2016 at 5:12 AM

  2. That little bud does look as though it could use some encouragement, doesn’t it? This is a new one for me. The smooth stems are particularly attractive. At first glance, it reminded me of horseweed (Conyza canadensis), but I think only because of the elongated buds.

    I saw some horseweed last week in a vacant lot. The Tvetens say June-November is its typical bloom time, but horseweed’s one I can ID, and it certainly was blooming. I saw a photo of beach primroses blooming on Galveston Island last week, too. I don’t think there’s any question we’ll have an early spring. It may already be spring.


    February 21, 2016 at 7:02 AM

    • Before your time visiting here I showed a much healthier flower head of this species:


      In looking at that picture’s metadata just now, I found that I took the photograph on a January 3rd, likewise outside the traditional season for the species.

      I can see why you liken Mexican devilweed to horseweed. Both are in the sunflower family. I haven’t seen any horseweed flowering yet, but what you say is more evidence of an early botanical spring this year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 21, 2016 at 8:03 AM

  3. We were stunned yesterday to see blooming blue bonnets in Cedar Park! At the LDS church grounds on E. Park.

    kathy henderson

    February 21, 2016 at 9:57 AM

    • I’ve been seeing bluebonnet rosettes and young plants for a while, and have been expecting to see flowers any time now, so I’m not surprised that you found some already. I seem to recall reports of early bluebonnet flowers in other years, too. If I get a chance, I’ll check out the location you mentioned; thanks for the tip.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 21, 2016 at 10:58 AM

  4. That is cool~a chlorostem. Very nice artsy photo to follow up the scientific one.


    February 21, 2016 at 10:07 AM

    • Thanks for appreciating the artsyness of the second photograph. I thought of it as moody, what with its Rembrandtian background.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 21, 2016 at 11:01 AM

  5. Wonderful image .. Must be the Asteraceae family


    February 21, 2016 at 7:27 PM

    • Asteraceae it is. That’s the family with the greatest number of taxa (genera and species) in Texas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 21, 2016 at 10:17 PM

  6. Such an interesting plant, very unique flower.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    February 22, 2016 at 12:13 AM

  7. […] and geometrically looped mustang grape vine (Vitis mustangensis) that I came across adjacent to the Mexican devilweed at Muir Lake in the town of Cedar Park on February […]

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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: