Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Horace’s Duskywing on Drummond’s Clematis

with 42 comments

Horace's Duskywing Butterfly on Clematis drummondii Flowers 0558

In a comment on yesterday’s post about white wild indigo in Illinois, Sherry Felix pointed out the connection to the wild indigo duskywing butterfly. That species is found in Austin, so I’ve probably seen it without recognizing it (what I know about butterflies weighs only as little as one). Still, the mention of duskywings sent me looking back at some photographs I took on June 30 in Great Hills Park, where I’d stopped to check out the flowers on a mound of Clematis drummondii. Also checking them out, though of course for a different purpose, was a dark butterfly that I now take, thanks to a butterfly field guide, to be a Horace’s duskwing, Erynnis horatius.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 25, 2016 at 4:49 AM

42 Responses

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  1. Nice one.

    Sherry Felix

    July 25, 2016 at 6:50 AM

  2. beautiful photo, nice composition


    July 25, 2016 at 9:51 AM

  3. One of the enjoyable things about naturalist studies is the discovery of something we were unable to identify previously as in your image here of the duskywing.

    Steve Gingold

    July 25, 2016 at 4:37 PM

    • Even with my butterfly book I often have a hard time identifying a specimen. Within a species males are frequently different from females, and individuals of the same sex can vary as well. No guide book has pictures of all the variations, nor do we get to see all the different views (ventral, dorsal, from the side, etc.). I’m not saying anything you don’t know and haven’t had to contend with.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 25, 2016 at 5:08 PM

  4. Beautiful shot!!


    July 26, 2016 at 5:35 PM

  5. Speaking of seeing without recognizing, I never would have recognized these as Clematis drummondii flowers. I think I’ve been assuming that photos like this one, and this, showed a post-bloom stage: one between the flower and the fluffy seeds. It seems that what we have here are four sepals and a whole lot of stamens.

    I think I’ve been confused partly because I finally found Clematis pitcheri and Clematis texensis. Patches of both had their seed stage mixed in with the flowers, and their seed heads look remarkably like this early stage of Clematis drummondii — at least, to me. Details, details.


    July 27, 2016 at 6:26 AM

    • I forgot to mention that, when I was scanning the google search pages for images of various clematises this morning, it was easy to pick out your photos. I always admire them here, on your blog, but they certainly stand out in a crowd.


      July 27, 2016 at 7:22 AM

      • Hooray for me for standing out in a crowd. People have occasionally told me a similar thing about recognizing that a picture in a native plant magazine is mine. It’s also been gratifying to find at times that when I do a search for something botanical in Texas, one of my posts is among the first hits.

        Steve Schwartzman

        July 27, 2016 at 8:21 AM

    • I still haven’t figured out everything about Clematis drummondii flowers, in particular something as basic as how to tell the difference between the male and female flowers. Some botanist I am. Shinners and Mahler’s confirms that there are four sepals but also calls them petal-like.

      It’s good to hear you’ve found the two leatherflowers, the scarlet and the purple. As much as I like the flowers of those two, the plumed stage of C. drummondii far outdoes them—at least in my experience.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 27, 2016 at 8:18 AM

  6. both of my camera lenses need a doctor, and where in the cloud forest can one find a lens doctor? i don’t think i will be able to get any good closeups of clematis or horsetail but i’ll try this weekend. the clematis here is lovely and attracts many butterflies, especially the glasswings — however, the vine is extremely invasive.. like the elephant grass, it chokes almost everything it encounters and takes control.

    • What species of Clematis do you have down there? Do you know whether it’s a native one?

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 29, 2016 at 2:58 PM

      • Oh it’s very native, or so it seems… I think of you often when I admire a unique plant in the middle of nowhere – quite lovely and possibly unique and blooming for the joy of just being there.. usually just one lone something all special – and i was the lucky one to pause and notice it. I wish I were online more often in order to share those amazing moments. I’ll check to see if there’s a clematis photo in archives…

        • I remember seeing ice plants and eucalyptus in California decades ago. Eventually I learned that the former came from South Africa and the latter from Australia. Even plants that have taken on iconic status can still be non-native, and that’s why I asked. Let’s hope your Clematis proves native, and thanks for thinking of me when you see a unique plant “blooming for the joy of just being there.” That reminds me of Emerson’s poem “The Rhodora,” which I quoted to another blogger yesterday. Here it is:

          In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
          I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
          Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
          To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
          The purple petals, fallen in the pool,
          Made the black water with their beauty gay;
          Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,
          And court the flower that cheapens his array.
          Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
          This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
          Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,
          Then Beauty is its own excuse for being:
          Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!
          I never thought to ask, I never knew:
          But, in my simple ignorance, suppose
          The self-same Power that brought me there brought you.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 29, 2016 at 9:52 PM

          • beautiful! thanks!

            • Thanks. I don’t recognize the butterfly but your Clematis flowers certainly look a lot like the familiar ones in Austin

              Steve Schwartzman

              July 29, 2016 at 11:19 PM

              • I’ll photograph the details of the stems and leaves when back at the property.. it certainly reminds me of the ‘wild’ clematis of the Mississippi Delta near Greenville where I grew up.

                • I searched and found a Clematis that’s native in the Mississippi delta and many other places in the U.S. It’s Clematis virginiana:


                  Steve Schwartzman

                  July 30, 2016 at 6:29 AM

                • how well i remember its almost sickly-sweet smell in the springtime…

                  one plant that is not native but blooms year round here is the azalea! it’s so weird to see it not go thru a cold spell, but bloom nonstop w/no rest period. temps here are lows around 60 and highs usualy around 80.. sometimes a bit hotter than that but not much..

                • Interesting that that Clematis has a strong scent, strong enough for you to remember so well. None of the three species in central Texas have much of an aroma, at least not as far as my sense of smell has detected.

                  60° to 80° sounds like an ideal climate, one more reason for you to enjoy living where you are.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  July 30, 2016 at 6:02 PM

                • although the allergist says i have no allergies, i am very sensitive to certain aromas.. the privet (sp) also gave me that same tickle…

                  one of my favorite scents here is the brugmansia, which usually blooms a week or ten days after a heavy rainy period.. ah, i don’t even have to see it to know it’s out there at the end of the day or in the wee hours of the morning. the scent is a bit like magnolia.

                  another lovely one that blooms after heavy rains is what they call ‘night jasmine’ which is a small tree that’s loaded with very small flowers.. ah, it’s blooming now too!

                • I’d like to experience your magnolia and night jasmine. Here’s what I learned about Brugmansia:


                  Steve Schwartzman

                  August 1, 2016 at 7:14 PM

                • Thanks for the link, and I was surprised to read that ‘all 7 species are considered extinct in the wild.’ We’ve made such a mess of our planet.
                  I just passed along ‘bienvenidos’ to Linda from the Andean city of Riobamba. When you and I last discussed the subject of altitude and nearby Chimborazo, I later wondered if you were reading ‘The Mapmaker’s Wife.”
                  Then to link the subject of books with that of Brugmansia, have you read Wade Davis’ One River? I really love that book!

                • That sentence about all 7 species being extinct in the wild jumped out at me, too.

                  What got me thinking about Chimborazo was a biography of Humboldt. I’d not heard of The Mapmaker’s Wife, but I just put a hold on a copy in the Austin Public Library. Thanks for the recommendation. I hadn’t heard about One River, either.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  August 5, 2016 at 9:02 PM

                • Here in the cloudforest, I ‘rescued’ about twenty branches of a pink brugmansia from the street/curb and planted most of them immediately. I needed to make a place for the final ones, and they stayed in limbo/sitio for several weeks — in the shade and totally forgotten. I remembered them when the aroma hit me one evening after I got out of the truck.. They had rooted where the limbs touched the grass-covered soil… When I ponder how could they be extinct in the wild, I then remember the deforestation that’s happening in many areas… many times ‘just’ for cattle, but other times w/illegal logging.

                  You’ll enjoy both books… The latter is part biography about Richard Schultes and also transports the reader into the world of ethnobotany research via Davis’s story. Another you might enjoy is Joe Kane’s ‘Savages’ – an eye opener for me, way before the spotlight hit the Yasuni oil controversy several years ago. His story helped me understand the attitudes and behavior of some indians I’ve known here in Ecuador.

                  As for the library, I often tell people that one of the things I miss most are the public libraries..

                • Good for you for “rescuing” those branches.

                  Speaking of libraries, I was just reminded of something I hadn’t though about in a long time. When I was in the Peace Corps, the organization sent each volunteer a “book locker” with a broad selection of paperback books. Those books were especially important for volunteers in rural areas, as you know so well. Whenever volunteers visited the capital, they could go to the Peace Corps office to browse the much larger collection of books there and replenish their supply.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  August 6, 2016 at 9:21 AM

    • I’m sorry to hear about the sorry state of your two lenses. What a contrast with up here, where we’re used to easy access to repairs.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 29, 2016 at 2:59 PM

      • Years ago I took my old Panasonic Lumix to a dealer in Guayaquil and asked about cleaning the ‘mold’ from the lenses.. They wanted 100 dollars up front just to look at it. I decided to wait and later met someone in Manta that cleaned it for 20 bucks, and it was like new again! Unfortunately now that area of Manta has been destroyed, and Manta is a long way from where I am in Mindo. Hopefully another repair shop will materialize where they don’t charge fees that equal the price of a new camera! Btw, the cheapest camera i can find to ‘hobble’ along until I can buy a new lens or get those repaired – was $350.00! Ecuador is very expensive when it comes to imported items…

        • Can someone buy a camera for you at American prices and mail it to you?

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 29, 2016 at 9:46 PM

          • Ha.. mail is not much of an option here, and as far as friends arriving via airport travel, I rarely ask for ‘wants’ so that when it’s a true need, I don’t feel guilty about asking.. with the camera, it might be time to decide what’s the best choice for my needs and upgrade .. coordinating w/someone who’ll be arriving in the next few months. thanks so much for helping to brainstorm!

  7. That is a beautiful photograph – the simplicity and colour of the flowers contrast perfectly with the butterfly.


    July 30, 2016 at 7:38 AM

    • As the butterfly kept moving around I took a bunch of pictures in hopes that a few or at least one would come out okay. This was one of the (relative) successes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 30, 2016 at 9:19 AM

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