Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Continuing wildflower profusion

with 24 comments

Basket-Flower Colony with Other Wildflowers 4853

The ample rain we’ve kept getting in central Texas this spring has continued to bring out good stands of wildflowers. Here you see a colony of basket-flowers, Centaurea americana, with some firewheels, Gaillardia pulchella, and a few square-bud primroses, Calylophus berlandieri, mixed in. Notice that many of the firewheels had already shed their red-and-yellow rays and become globular seed heads.

Oh well, if we’re talking about profusion I guess I should add at least one more picture of the dense wildflowers in that field. This second photograph has the distinction, I think, of being the only one taken at a focal length of 16mm ever to appear in these pages. In this wide-angle view are prairie bishop’s weed, Bifora americana; Indian blanket, Gaillardia pulchella; greenthread, Thelesperma filifolium; and a few basket-flowers, Centaurea americana.

Mixed Prairie Wildflowers 4941

I found these dense wildflower displays on a not-yet-developed property along Louis Henna Blvd. in Round Rock on the afternoon of May 17. We had rain that night and again on May 19.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 21, 2016 at 4:49 AM

24 Responses

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  1. Hi Steve,
    I like that wide-angle shot. I’ve given up on using a wide-angle lens for my flower shots because they never turn out what I have expected them to be. I’m always disappointed.
    Have a great weekend,


    May 21, 2016 at 8:35 AM

    • Good morning. I haven’t used my 16–35mm lens a lot so I brought it along with the idea of recording broad views of the wildflower-covered landscapes that the rains have fostered. I find a wide perspective effective when the frame is filled with lots of variety, as in these two pictures. The first, by the way, was at 35mm. Because I do more closeups than anything else, these wide views let me play at the opposite end of the scale. One drawback is that any individual flower comes out small, even minuscule. That’s partly a result of the wide angle and partly of the half-megapixel size of the pictures I post here. The originals are tens of time larger in area and reveal a lot more detail. Photographers tend to keep posted images small out of fear that people will steal larger and better ones.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 21, 2016 at 9:10 AM

      • My wide angle is a 10 – 20 mm zoom, and my standard lens is a 18 – 200 mm zoom. So that gives me a light to moderate zoom, too.


        May 21, 2016 at 4:39 PM

        • Wow, 10mm, that’s a super-duper-wide-angle lens. It must give you good depth of field.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 21, 2016 at 5:13 PM

          • Hi Steve,
            That lens sure is a super wide angle lens. It can create interesting effects.
            I’be been thinking again why I’m sometimes disappointed with the results of my wide-angle shots. Why they seem to be so much different from what I saw. Maybe it is the fact that, even if my eyes see an even wider angle, they automatically focus on the middle, and the rest is just peripheral vision and thus doesn’t really register, except for some kind of background, whereas the camera with a wide-angle lens treats everything in the picture in the same way.
            Have a wonderful Sunday,


            May 22, 2016 at 11:10 AM

            • With such a wide angle, a lot of things at the periphery remain sharp, but they appear in an arrangement that’s reminiscent of the effects of centrifugal force.

              Steve Schwartzman

              May 22, 2016 at 3:18 PM

  2. Profusion indeed. From the distance I might have thought the white flowers in the upper image were Queen Anne’s Lace, which I can actually, on occasion, find in similar profusion.

    Steve Gingold

    May 21, 2016 at 10:10 AM

    • There’s some Queen Anne’s lace around here too but I don’t photograph it because the United States is a republic, not a monarchy. Okay, so that’s not the real reason, but the Queen Anne in the name tells us the species is from Europe. The white flowers in the second picture are related to Queen Anne’s lace, both being in the carrot-parsley-dill-celery family. Apparently there’s a bishop’s weed in England, so people named its native American relative prairie bishop’s weed to distinguish it. Prairie bishop’s weed has been having a prolific season; it’s the same white you saw covering an embankment a couple of days ago:


      Steve Schwartzman

      May 21, 2016 at 10:25 AM

      • If royalty rankles you, Q.A. is also, as you might surmise from the list of relative, known as Wild Carrot and is a wild edible, although I don’t harvest wild flowers.

        Steve Gingold

        May 21, 2016 at 10:31 AM

        • I’ve heard the “wild carrot” name but I don’t think I’ve ever tried eating one.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 21, 2016 at 10:34 AM

          • Should you yank one out of the ground, there is no mistaking, in an olfactory sense, how it got its name. I don’t know if the taste is the same, but since smell affects taste it is probable.

            Steve Gingold

            May 21, 2016 at 10:38 AM

            • I don’t see Queen Anne’s lace often enough to find out. According to some websites, the white flower heads are also edible, either raw or lightly battered and fried.

              Steve Schwartzman

              May 21, 2016 at 10:48 AM

  3. Very dense and so pretty. In London lots and lots of cow parsley swaying in the breeze.


    May 21, 2016 at 3:50 PM

    • I first heard of cow parsley from a commenter in England last year. I’m glad to hear it’s doing well this season.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 21, 2016 at 4:16 PM

  4. Seeing this nearly has left me a basket-case. I’ve been watching and watching the three places where I found basket-flowers last year, and there’s not even evidence of the plants. The areas haven’t been mowed, and as far as I can tell there haven’t been herbicides or other nasties employed, so I just don’t know. One of those spots was home to the tall basket-flower plant that well exceeded my height. I do so hope that colony comes back.

    If not? Well, I’m going to sneak away for a couple of days and head toward Blessing and Palacios. That’s roughly the same route on which I found my first-ever basket flowers last year, so you can bet I’ll be keeping my eyes open.


    May 21, 2016 at 4:53 PM

    • Yeah, nature is capricious, that’s for sure. You’ve heard me say more than once that a good spot one year turns out to be mediocre or paltry at the same time the following year. Let’s hope Blessing will live up to its name with respect to basket-flowers and other wildflowers for you.

      A couple of hours ago I took Eve and a couple of our friends to see a great piece of prairie in Pflugerville that I found covered with many kinds of wildflowers yesterday. Heading toward home afterwards, we saw stands of basket-flowers in a bunch of places, including at the edges of fields that have unfortunately become construction sites. In just a couple of minutes yesterday I became aware of three more properties that I’d lost to development this season. The pace is accelerating, alas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 21, 2016 at 5:23 PM

  5. Flowers from all angles please me. Thank you. 🙂


    May 22, 2016 at 5:40 AM

    • You’re welcome. Your attitude is just right. A large field of wildflowers gives all but the most obtuse an acute pleasure.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 22, 2016 at 7:01 AM

      • 😀 😀


        May 22, 2016 at 7:10 AM

        • Your happy faces reminded me of Euler’s formula for the relationship among the edges (E), vertices (V), and faces (F) of a polyhedron:

          V + F – E = 2.

          For example, a cube has 8 vertices, 6 faces, and 12 edges, so

          8 + 6 – 12 = 2.

          That’s what I call putting a happy face on solid geometry.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 22, 2016 at 7:58 AM

          • Ha! I usually refrain from emoticons on your blog but I thought I would try these happy faces with the idea that you might find something geometrical about them…..and you did! Bravo Steve, Bravo Euler.


            May 22, 2016 at 7:57 PM

            • Thanks for the bravo. You know me: not likely to pass up a chance to drag in something about math or language.

              Steve Schwartzman

              May 22, 2016 at 8:07 PM

  6. The council used to sow wildflower seed next to the motorway .. Sadly they stopped doing it no idea why as it looked sensational


    May 22, 2016 at 1:36 PM

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