Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Texas dandelion

with 30 comments

Texas Dandelion Flower Head from Above 0066

It’s been a year since I brightened your screens with a Texas dandelion, Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus. A happy and sunny yellow to you all.

I took this picture on April 3 looking straight down at one of our native Texas dandelions in a field on the west side of Interstate 35 in far north Austin. (The second photograph in a recent post reminded you how densely flowerful that field was two years ago.)

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 9, 2016 at 5:00 AM

30 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. so bright and pretty! have a great day!


    May 9, 2016 at 5:17 AM

  2. Dandy!


    May 9, 2016 at 6:10 AM

  3. I thought of you this morning; MUTTS cartoon is about finding wildflowers in the grass. If you get a moment, google it. It is clever, as usual.


    May 9, 2016 at 6:21 AM

    • Those are some wild wildflowers. Mutt reminds me that Mutter is the German word for mother, and yesterday was Mother’s Day.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2016 at 6:39 AM

  4. I’m surprised it’s taken me so long to understand some of the habits of these highly successful flowers. I’d wondered at their absence in a vacant lot across from me. Then one day I happened to come home mid-morning, and there they were: happily blooming away. A little research turned up a lot of sentences like this: “flowers open in the morning and close around noon.” They sure do.

    That’s one reason I made a third trip to the Galveston cemetery. I had a hunch I might see things in the morning that weren’t apparent on my late afternoon visits. These dandelions were right on schedule, along with a few other plants that seem to be morning people.

    I was puzzled by pauciflorus, since the rays tend to be so many, but it seems that term refers to the plant’s tendency to produce only one or two bloom stalks. And I see it’s called desert chicory in some places. As soon as I read that, I saw the resemblance.


    May 9, 2016 at 7:09 AM

    • That’s why time is considered a fourth dimension. You can be at the right place for something but if you’re there at the wrong time you miss what you’d hoped to find.

      “Morning people” that I’ve noticed include the pink evening primrose and its relatives, and of course members of the morning-glory family. I see that I took this pictures of the Texas dandelion at around 1:30, when it was clearly going strong. I haven’t observed the species enough to know how far into the afternoon its flower heads normally stay fresh.

      Like you, I’m puzzled by pauciflorus. A prior designation for the species was multicaulis, meaning ‘many stems,’ and Shinners and Mahler’s gives the vernacular name many-stem false dandelion.

      The so-called false dandelion is the true one here, as I’ve been fond of saying for the past 15 years or so. Similarly, to my mind “desert chicory” has it backwards, given that chicory is an invader from Eurasia.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2016 at 7:47 AM

  5. There is a wonderful dose of Texas sunshine beaming through all our computers 🙂 Love it.


    May 9, 2016 at 9:33 AM

  6. Sigh, Mary Beth hates dandelions in our lawn and we have ’em by the hundreds. She’ll pick them instead of digging so they can come back so it’s the same every year. But she puts up with all the other flowers that pop up so I can’t complain, despite it sounding like I am. They are like captured sunshine, which they actually are, and that’s especially evident in your portrait.

    Steve Gingold

    May 9, 2016 at 10:49 AM

    • Yes, yes, yes, captured sunshine. Fortunately these are native here, unlike the European ones I grew up with on Long Island and that I assume you’re talking about in your lawn. Unfortunately none of the three native American species make it to New England. On the other hand, I know you’re not the stickler that I am in this blog for native species.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2016 at 11:31 AM

      • True, I am not exclusive to natives, but do try to indicate which is which in my keywords. While I prefer native plants, the non-natives are here and might as well be celebrated too. After all, you and I are not strictly native either. 🙂

        Steve Gingold

        May 9, 2016 at 11:52 AM

        • Agreed: native is a relative term (pun). My family in the United States goes back only a few generations on my mother’s side. My father was an immigrant, and Eve is from the Philippines.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 9, 2016 at 12:00 PM

          • I believe all my grandparents were born here, but all my great grandparents (I assume they were great, I never knew them) were immigrants.
            Actually, there really are no true native Americans, at least as I understand it, as those folks we call native came here from Asia across the ice bridge between Siberia and Alaska.

            Steve Gingold

            May 9, 2016 at 12:20 PM

            • That’s the current belief. I’ve always been skeptical, and have felt at least some people must have been here before the most recent Ice Age migrations, given how long Homo sapiens has existed and how resourceful the species is.

              Steve Schwartzman

              May 9, 2016 at 1:18 PM

  7. There are far fewer petals than in the ones that are so common up here in Nebraska. Are the flowering heads about the same size?


    May 9, 2016 at 11:16 AM

    • I assume the ones up there are the invasive European species. According to my local field guide, the Texas dandelion has heads between 0.75 and 1.25 inches across. The same book gives the size of the European dandelion’s flower head as 0.5–1.0 inches across. The European dandelions shade a bit more toward orange, and, as you say, have more ray flowers than the native Texas one (there are no disk flowers).

      According to the distribution maps at


      two of the native Pyrrhopappus species just barely make it to Nebraska, so you might see one after all.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2016 at 11:56 AM

  8. Excelente macro.

  9. […] old plainsman, Hymenopappus scabiosaeus, whose buds were opening up the promise of white flowers. A Texas dandelion, Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus, provided the yellow halo in this April 5th view from the Riata Trace […]

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: