Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Agarita flowers and buds

with 19 comments

Agarita Flowers and Buds 6734

I’m a bit late in showing you these flowers and buds of an agarita bush, Mahonia trifoliolata, that I photographed off Yaupon Dr. on February 26. Taking too many pictures to show in these pages isn’t a bad “problem” to have.

For a closer look at some of the agarita flowers, click the following excerpt.

Agarita Flowers and Buds 6720A

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 29, 2016 at 4:57 AM

19 Responses

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  1. It seems I’m going to miss this one’s flowering again this year. I can’t believe I’ve never seen, but it seems it must be one of the earlier blooms. The flowers appear to be a little waxy. Is that so?

    I like the inclusion of the leaf. It’s a nice reminder that behind all that delicacy lurks a tough little plant.


    March 29, 2016 at 7:04 AM

    • Yes, agarita is one of the first species to flower here in the spring. A tough bush it is, too: many a time my skin has come away the worse for contacting the needles at the lobe tips of agarita leaves. In contrast, I can’t remember whether I’ve felt the flowers, so I’m afraid I can’t say how waxy they are or aren’t.

      Even if you’ve missed the flowering for 2016, you still have time late in the spring to find some of these bushes with little red fruits on them. If you’re really ambitious, you can gather some and turn them into jelly.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 29, 2016 at 7:30 AM

      • I’ve seen agarita jelly made. Believe me — I’m not that ambitious. Making the jelly’s not so hard, but I’ve seen what a day harvesting berries can do to a person.


        March 29, 2016 at 7:34 AM

        • Now that’s a prudent attitude. The tongue may call out for agarita jelly, but the skin sides with you.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 29, 2016 at 7:41 AM

  2. Great work, Steven.


    March 29, 2016 at 7:33 AM

    • I took advantage of the fact that this branch had grown upward in isolation from the rest of the bush. That isolation let me get the neutral background you see here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 29, 2016 at 7:43 AM

  3. Good morning, Steve,
    Thanks for the wonderful pictures.
    I’d love to have Agaritas here in our garden, and I once tried to move one from under the trees to a different spot. I had known before, that Agaritas are (extremely) difficult to transplant, and so it proved: they died on me. Maybe I need a professional gardener for that.
    Have a great day,


    March 29, 2016 at 8:23 AM

    • You’re welcome for the views, Pit.

      I located an article you might find helpful if you attempt another agarita transplant:


      Steve Schwartzman

      March 29, 2016 at 8:31 AM

      • Thanks, Steve, for the link. I was afraid, when I tried to transplant the Agarita, that I had done too much damage to the roots. Maybe I’ll try again, with the advice in the article. I need to find a plant, though which I can use. I haven’t seen any more on our property.


        March 29, 2016 at 8:36 AM

        • Maybe you can put the word out to neighbors or advertise in a local publication, whether on paper or online.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 29, 2016 at 8:50 AM

          • Well, I’ve seen quite a few in the wild here along Lower Crabapple Road and have always been wondering if I could just ask the owners of the properties if I might dig one or more out.


            March 29, 2016 at 9:00 AM

  4. Warm and cozy.

    Steve Gingold

    March 29, 2016 at 6:02 PM

  5. Clicking on the picture makes it pop! Wonderful


    March 30, 2016 at 3:11 AM

    • I’ve noticed that the clicked-on version of a picture usually has better quality than the initial version that WordPress creates to include in its posts. In any case, I’m glad you like this.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 30, 2016 at 7:31 AM

  6. Nice shot. Always good when the plant gives you a branch separate from the others to focus on. I have found it difficult to get much depth of field in focus on closeup flowers and buds. Especially Agarita, which seem to start whipping about in the breeze as soon as I start to focus. How do you do it? Fast shutter, small aperture, good clean living? Multiple burst exposures?

    Robert Kamper

    March 30, 2016 at 6:30 AM

    • As you pointed out, the closer we get to a subject, the harder it is to get much depth of field. The breeze only makes the situation worse. I often use the unorthodox technique of steadying a plant with my left hand and holding the camera’s viewfinder to my eye with my right hand, steadying it by pressing it against my forehead or nose. Your mention of a fast shutter speed is another part of my technique: with my 100mm macro lens I rarely go slower than 1/400 of a second. A relatively small aperture helps, but the trade-off is having to use higher ISOs. For a subject that can’t be slowed down, like the water at the base of a waterfall, I sometimes use burst mode and hope at least one picture will be pleasing. The clean living you proposed is a novel hypothesis.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 30, 2016 at 7:45 AM

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