Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Rudbeckia to the max

with 26 comments

Swamp Coneflower Flower Head 8764

Yet another thing I saw on the grounds of the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, on June 20 was Rudbeckia maxima, known as giant coneflower, great coneflower, and large or giant brown-eyed susan. In contrast to the regular brown-eyed susan, Rudbeckia hirta, this one produces flower stalks that can grow to be 7 ft. tall.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 29, 2016 at 5:00 AM

26 Responses

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  1. Seven feet! Even if this one wasn’t quite that tall, how nice that it accommodated you by bending down a bit. The curves are lovely: both the stem and the ray flowers (which, I must admit, remind me of finger bananas).


    August 29, 2016 at 6:51 AM

    • Something turned on a growth gene in an ancestor of this species. As I recall, most of the flower stalks grew at a slant, making my work as a photographer easier. The ray flowers here are long enough to match up with developing finger bananas, so your imagination is grounded in reality.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2016 at 8:02 AM

  2. Those would certainly dwarf the hirtas which did not return to my yard this year…most likely due to the ongoing drought. Another nice combination of blooms and buds.

    Steve Gingold

    August 29, 2016 at 6:58 AM

    • Blloms and buds: we nature photographers stay at our own kind of b&b.
      Sorry to hear your hirtas were hurting this year. Let’s hope they hurry back in 2017.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2016 at 8:04 AM

  3. The Olympics must still be on my mind, because this flower really reminds me of one of the sprinters leaning in at the finish line. It’s funny that a stationary flower can convey the impression of speed.

    Mike Powell

    August 29, 2016 at 6:59 AM

    • That’s a good observation, Mike. From time to time I’ve also gotten a sense of motion from a stationary subject. It didn’t hit me that way this time, but I can see why you would have felt it. Maybe if I’d watched the Olympics I’d have felt it too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2016 at 8:08 AM

  4. I was thinking the same thing Mike was~this looks like an athlete straining to break free. To the max!


    August 29, 2016 at 7:36 AM

  5. Definitely the largest cone flower I’ve heard of, and we’re very fond of them–in fact, did you know that the purple variety is the state flower of Nebraska?


    August 29, 2016 at 10:18 AM

    • The sites I’ve found list goldenrod, particularly giant goldenrod, Solidago gigantea, as the state flower of Nebraska. Might there be more than one category of official state flower?

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2016 at 5:05 PM

      • Dear me. I sit corrected. Don’t tell my wife, though–I had that information from her (if I recall correctly–and that may be open to serious question). Shudder and sigh. Must you be such a check-up-on-the-casual-statements-of-friendly-bloggers addict?


        August 29, 2016 at 11:28 PM

        • Actually I’d followed up because you mentioned “the purple variety [of cone flower]” and I wondered if you meant Echinacea, of which I saw plenty in Oklahoma and Missouri.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 29, 2016 at 11:35 PM

          • Yup, Echinacea purpurea is exactly what I meant. I see, upon a bit of further research, that it is the state wildflower of Tennessee. I hope the Tennesseeans, too, will forgive my undersight.


            August 30, 2016 at 10:03 PM

  6. Rocket rudbeckia🚀


    August 29, 2016 at 3:17 PM

  7. 7ft tall stem! Wow that sure is impressive. Lovely image Steve ..


    August 30, 2016 at 3:12 AM

    • I’d never seen such large composite flowers on such long stalks. You’re right that they’re impressive.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 30, 2016 at 6:26 AM

  8. The maxima and the colour remind me of the gigantic Jerusalem artichoke I grew this year. It would have been 9 feet tall, perhaps taller.


    August 30, 2016 at 5:35 AM

    • That must have been impressive. Did you get any pictures of it, or better yet of yourself standing with it?

      I’ve eaten Jerusalem artichokes but have never knowingly seen one of the plants.The species is native in parts of the United States and even apparently has put in appearances in a couple of counties in northeastern Texas but doesn’t make it to Austin.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 30, 2016 at 6:33 AM

      • I did take a picture. Not a very good one though.The chokes were good. I expect the plant will grow again this summer.


        August 30, 2016 at 7:33 AM

  9. For some reason this reminded me straight away of when dogs have their heads out of a car window and their ears, fur and cheeks are blown back, leaving their pointy nose standing out. But it’s such a pretty flower and the details of its centre are lovely. It also reminds me of the song, “Blowin’ in the Wind.” I love your different angles. Sometimes your shots give your flowers a character of their own. 🙂


    September 17, 2016 at 2:06 AM

    • As I recall, this flower stalk really was leaning the way you see it here. At other times, though, I do take pictures at unconventional angles to give my subjects “a character of their own,” as you put it. Someone I know who’s interested in the botanical (as opposed to pictorial) aspect of plants once commented on my unusual angles, not necessarily in a favorable way. I’ll stick with “art for art’s sake” and leave the botany to botanists.

      By the way, a current commercial on television here shows a dog with its skin blowing back in the way you described.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2016 at 8:52 AM

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