Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Another mixed-species find

with 16 comments

Firewheel with Western Horsenettle Flowers 2532

One other thing that Eve found and called my attention to on April 30 along the Copperfield Nature Trail in northeast Austin was this firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella) growing among the flowers of a western horsenettle (Solanum dimidiatum). Notice how the tips of the firewheel’s rays harmonize in color and shape with the horsenettle’s banana-like stamens.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 24, 2016 at 4:44 AM

16 Responses

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  1. beautiful flower


    May 24, 2016 at 4:46 AM

    • People around here are much more likely to know the flowers of the firewheel than of the western horsenettle.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 24, 2016 at 6:59 AM

  2. Those miniature bananas are one of the more enjoyable features of horsenettle along with the crinkle-textured petals…the spines, not so much. The blanket flower looks like it’s been fighting for position with the horsenettle.

    Steve Gingold

    May 24, 2016 at 7:02 AM

    • We truth-tellers get to sing: “Yes, we have no bananas.” Fortunately the spines of this species aren’t too ominous, especially compared to bull nettle and some of the other unfriendly plants in Texas. As for “the survival of the fittest,” I often find plants competing for space and sunlight, and I expect you do too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 24, 2016 at 7:18 AM

  3. Good work, Steve. You really nailed the color, bud.


    May 24, 2016 at 9:30 AM

  4. Beautiful combination, Steve!

    Lavinia Ross

    May 24, 2016 at 11:11 AM

  5. It’s a good color combo. I like the wrinkled petal of the nettles.

    Jim Ruebush

    May 24, 2016 at 11:14 AM

  6. A lovely combination. Thank you Eve.


    May 25, 2016 at 6:11 AM

  7. Would the picture have been any different if the Gaillardia had been nestled among Silverleaf nightshade instead of Western Horse Nettle?? (I usually go by the leaves to distinguish between those two Solanum species).


    May 25, 2016 at 9:01 AM

    • I believe the picture would have been about the same. Like you, I rely on the leaves to distinguish those two similar Solanum species, and that’s how I identified this one as S. dimidiatum. I’ve been seeing both species recently, sometimes even on the same plot of ground.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 25, 2016 at 9:28 AM

  8. This past weekend, I found what I assumed to be silverleaf nightshade, but a first glance at this photo left me unsure. Fortunately, I was clever enough to take photos of the whole plant, including the leaves. Despite the similarities between the flowers, the leaves do tell the tale — and it was the nightshade that I found. They were lonely little plants, though: all by themselves, with nary a firewheel to keep them warm. The color combination in your photo’s especially pretty. I can see why it would catch Eve’s eye.

    I did drag out my Shinners & Mahler’s to double check my identification. Those line drawings are really helpful, and reading the description of the flower with a photo at hand makes the scientific language more understandable.


    May 25, 2016 at 9:51 PM

    • As you’ve found, having pictures of all the main parts of a plant is important when the identification isn’t obvious, e.g. when two species are similar. The gray-green of a silverleaf nightshade’s leaves are a give-away.

      I’m afraid a lot of people consider both species weeds; too bad, because they’re quite common (especially the silverleaf nightshade) along the margins and in the medians of many roads in Austin, and perhaps near you too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 25, 2016 at 10:02 PM

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