Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

That combination of wildflowers

with 23 comments

Indian Paintbrushes and Bluebonnets by Pond 9203

Here’s a popular combination of Texas wildflowers: bluebonnets, Lupinus texensis, and Indian paintbrushes, Castilleja indivisa. That’s what I saw by a pond along TX 29 between Llano and Burnet on March 21.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 28, 2016 at 5:05 AM

23 Responses

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  1. The pond water lends a pastoral touch to a beautiful floral scene. I don’t know if these flowers exist together in other states, but I always think of Texas when I see them together. I’ve always hoped to see them blooming in the spring. There is just something about their recurrence that is primeval and hopeful.


    March 28, 2016 at 6:03 AM

    • The pond is what made me slow down, turn around, and go back. As common as this wildflower combination is in central Texas, I don’t recall seeing it by water before, and that was different enough for me to want to record the scene.

      There are many species of Lupinus and Castilleja, as you can see from the maps at




      so I assume a combination of the two must occur in other states as well. Whether people in those places appreciate or promote the combination to the extent that people in Texas do, I don’t know. Finding out might make a good project for a student.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 28, 2016 at 6:46 AM

  2. Wow. I am always blown away by wonderful landscape images like this one that capture a wide expanse of colorful wildflowers.

    Mike Powell

    March 28, 2016 at 6:26 AM

    • Welcome to springtime Texas, Mike. You’ll have to come see it for yourself one of these years.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 28, 2016 at 7:16 AM

  3. Great splashing of color.


    March 28, 2016 at 6:37 AM

  4. Thanks for the sweeping field of hues on this rainy spring day…


    March 28, 2016 at 7:23 AM

    • You’re welcome, Sally. Your almost-April showers should bring you lots of wildflowers. May it be so in May.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 28, 2016 at 7:28 AM

  5. Springtime in the Texas Hill Country always presents wonderful views, doesn’t it? Great shot, Steve.


    March 28, 2016 at 8:01 AM

    • It does, although the reports I read online just minutes ago indicate that 2016 hasn’t yet been a good year for large and dense wildflower displays. On a smaller scale, though, there are always things to enjoy, as you said. What condition have you found the wildflowers near Fredericksburg to be in so far?

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 28, 2016 at 8:11 AM

      • Good morning Steve,
        I think that the extremely dry January and February are responsible for the fact that we don’t have just that many wildflowers around. We ourselves had hoped that we’d get some early this year in our garden. We had put out quite a bit of seeds. But they don’t seem to have taken root. So we’re hoping that the regular later-blooming ones [like Mexican Hats] will still appear. About a week ago I drove out “our” road [Lower Crabapple] where there had been lots of wildflowers in large patches last year but I didn’t see too many. Definitely not large patches. In town I’ve seen quite a few wonderful gardens with (mainly) bluebonnets, though. I’ve also read [and seen pictures] that the Willow City Loop has great views again. I really need to get out there this week.
        Btw, I’ve just published [in my “Bilderbuch Blog] a picture of the driveway of our old place in Karnes County. There the wildflowers are really going.
        Have a wonderful day,


        March 28, 2016 at 8:29 AM

        • Let’s hope the seeds you sowed will still bloom, even if later than you expected. Here in Austin we were never completely without Mexican hat flowers through the winter the way we would traditionally be. A few kept flowering even in January and February, and now the spring ones are beginning to come out in greater numbers at their rightful time (though the peak here is usually in the late spring).

          Good luck with the Willow City Loop. We drove it about 6 years ago and found it worthwhile, although visitors have to stay on the road and can’t always find a spot to pull over for a good picture.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 28, 2016 at 4:56 PM

          • If I was in a better shape, I’d do the Willow City Loop on my bicycle. But that is out of the question – unfortunately. On Saturday I’ll be doing – hopefully – 42 miles out of the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall. Maybe I’ll see some great displays of wildflowers then.


            March 28, 2016 at 7:48 PM

            • I hope you do see some good displays at the LBJ Ranch. I photographed some good ones there on a couple of occasions.

              Steve Schwartzman

              March 28, 2016 at 8:41 PM

  6. I never see a photo of bluebonnets and paintbrushes combined without thinking of a dense display my mother and I found, years ago. I’m sure I’ve even mentioned it here. The flowers were so thick, and the colors so evenly divided, the field appeared purple.

    You’re right about the pond being an unusual addition. I don’t remember ever seeing bluebonnets next to water. Indian paintbrushes are thick along the water-filled ditches of Brazoria County, but I suspect that’s thanks to the highway department, rather than any natural inclination on their part. There were paintbrushes in the Brazoria refuge, but none in San Bernard — and no bluebonnets, at all, save about eight plants right in front of the door to the visitor center at Brazoria. I have a feeling those might have been planted for their iconic value, this being Texas, and all.


    March 28, 2016 at 8:37 AM

    • This display was close to TX 29, and there were plenty of other strips of wildflowers along that stretch of highway, so I likewise suspect we can thank TxDot for sowing the seeds. Regarding what you said about Brazoria, I think you’re right about that as well. I’m reminded of the way some “natives” were conspicuous around the visitor center at Monahans Sandhills State Park two years ago. In particular I remember the ocotillo, which doesn’t occur that far northeast by itself.

      As for water, I seem to remember seeing a colony of bluebonnets close to Granger Lake or Lake Georgetown a good dozen years ago, but I don’t think those flowers were mixed with paintbrushes. Given enough time, though, and the way our brains work, anything can end up mixing with anything in memory.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 28, 2016 at 9:34 AM

  7. I just raked the leaves and other dried debris from the path into my little wooded area behind the house in hopes that last year’s bluebell planting will return. It won’t look nearly as breathtaking as your field of blooms, but it will remind that somewhere they are profusely beautiful…or beautifully profuse.

    Steve Gingold

    March 28, 2016 at 10:29 AM

    • We may have discussed this before, but I didn’t find any pictures of bluebells on your blog. Perhaps you’ll fill that void this year. “Profusely beautiful” and “beautifully profuse” both sound good to me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 28, 2016 at 4:49 PM

      • Nope, no bluebells. They are not that common around here. In that prior discussion, I most likely mentioned Tom Whelan showing me some that are cultivated in the Acton, MA arboretum. I do hope for a couple of closeups if mine return.

        Steve Gingold

        March 28, 2016 at 4:59 PM

  8. This is such a cheerful shot. I love the colours and the crowd of blossoms. 🙂


    March 30, 2016 at 9:12 AM

    • It’s typical of many Texas roadsides at this time of year. Much more of the region was once covered with colonies of wildflowers, but farming, agriculture, and development have reduced the floral displays. The state highway department and other entities have compensated by sowing wildflower seeds along many main roads, and that was most likely the source of this display shown here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 30, 2016 at 10:17 AM

  9. […] far the best-known paintbrush in Texas is Castilleja indivisa, know as Indian paintbrush, which you saw last month mixed in with bluebonnets. Another species that grows in central Texas is Castilleja purpurea, which in spite of its species […]

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