Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


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Ludwigia Flowering by Pond 0983

While most of the prairie site in far northeast Austin that I mentioned yesterday has become a construction zone, I’m still hopeful that the northern end of the strip, which includes a retention pond, will remain undeveloped because it’s so wet. The photograph above shows a few water-primrose plants (Ludwigia octovalvis) flowering along the eastern edge of the pond on July 16.

If you’d like a close look at this kind of flower, you can have one from a few years ago.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 13, 2016 at 5:03 AM

12 Responses

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  1. I’m so fond of the red stems of this plant. I’ve only seen it three times, and remember every location: a ditch alongside Texas 71, south of El Campo, a flower-laden intersection in Palacios, and just a week ago, alongside CR 227 near the Brazoria refuge. I suppose the combination of red and yellow that makes it easily spottable helps to make it memorable, too. Even the little star-shapes that are left after the bloom drops are attractive. It’s one of my favorite plants.


    August 13, 2016 at 7:34 AM

    • This water-loving plant is pretty common around retention ponds and along creeks in Austin, so I’m surprised that you’ve encountered it only three times in your area, which is wetter than central Texas. As it does to you, the combination of yellow, red, and green appeals to me. So do the reddish four-pointed stars you mentioned that remain at the tip of the seed capsule that follows each flower. I can see why water-primrose is one of your favorite plants.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 13, 2016 at 7:51 AM

      • Of course, all my sightings should be accompanied by a caveat: “Just because I haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it isn’t here.”


        August 13, 2016 at 8:14 AM

        • I could certainly borrow that caveat. I always assume I miss seeing many things that are there. I’m grateful for the ones I do see.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 13, 2016 at 8:19 AM

  2. What a lovely stand of yellow Ludwigia octovalvis (water primrose plants). It’s a gorgeous composition.

    Ariana Vincent

    August 14, 2016 at 6:04 PM

  3. Nicely composed and exposed, Steve.

    We have wetland protection laws here and I am surprised that this land you show us can be built upon. Our law requires wetland replacement/mitigation in any work that involves wet areas.

    Steve Gingold

    August 16, 2016 at 4:30 AM

    • You raise a good question. I have no idea what laws govern the development of this piece of land, but I assume the developers got whatever permits they needed. I wonder if the people who buy the new houses there will find that they’re subject to flooding after heavy rain. That’s happened a fair amount in and around Houston, as you’ve probably seen on television from time to time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 16, 2016 at 7:29 AM

  4. Hey cool, a familiar plant! I believe that grows here as well. The houses in my neighborhood all flood~they really should not have been built. We love our little cottage, though, and sometimes joke about uprooting it and moving it somewhere more suitable. The neighborhood is about 50 years old; greedy short-sighted developers aren’t new!


    September 4, 2016 at 10:19 AM

    • I’m wondering whether the new houses being built within sight of this pond will flood after heavy or sustained rain. My crystal ball hints at lawsuits down the line.

      While this plant looks familiar to you, I just confirmed that Ludwigia octovalvis is confined to the Southeast:


      You must have a closely related species of Ludwigia in your colder climate, probably L. palustris or L. alternifolia. We have several Ludwigia species in central Texas but I haven’t learned how to tell them all apart.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 4, 2016 at 10:30 AM

      • Yes, I think the palustris although as you say, they can be difficult to distinguish and I’m more about gestalt than keying out. I hope there are many lawsuits. Maybe the developers would learn something.


        September 4, 2016 at 10:33 AM

        • Just the other day I was thinking about the word gestalt. In particular, I was thinking about the way snow-on-the-prairie looks a little different from the similar snow-on-the-mountain. Usually I can tell them apart pretty easily, but I’ve read that the two can interbreed in regions where they overlap, and in fact I saw a specimen on September 1 that I had trouble deciding on; perhaps it was one of those interbred plants.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 4, 2016 at 10:54 AM

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