Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for March 3rd, 2016

Peonia in the Hill Country

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Peonia Flower Heads 4828

On February 12th I walked some of the strenuous northernmost part of the River Place Nature Trail (the portion called the Canyon Trail) and came across a member of the sunflower family that I’d seen only a few times before.* It was Acourtia runcinata, known as peonia or featherleaf desert peony. The flower head at the right looked okay, while the smaller one on the left was either drying out after flourishing or hadn’t quite made it in the first place. Behind the drying head you can glimpse part of a bud beginning to open.

In the United States, Acourtia runcinata grows only in Texas, and even then only in the southwestern half of the state, as you can confirm at the USDA website (raise the slider there to zoom in on the county-level distribution).

Although this sunflower-family wildflower bears some superficial resemblance to the garden flower called the peony, that one is in a family all its own, Paeoniaceae, which consists of the single genus Paeonia.


* Given how seldom I’d seen this wildflower and how glad I was to encounter it again, you might be surprised to hear that I didn’t even notice it on the outward-bound part of my walk, spotting it only on the return. I’ve commented on that phenomenon several times in this blog, and other photographers have confirmed that it happens to them too.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 3, 2016 at 5:00 AM

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