Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Botanically speaking, fall is here.

with 18 comments


As you’ve been able to confirm from the recent pictures of snow-on-the-prairie and snow-on-the-mountain and goldenrod, central Texas has gone into full fall botanical mode, even if afternoon high temperatures are still around 93°F (34°C). Today and in the next bunch of posts you’ll get a look at some more of that autumnal activity.

One thing that native plant people look forward to in central Texas at this time of year is Maximilian sunflowers, Helianthus maximiliani. Not many have appeared so far this season, but on September 7th I photographed a few in a field along Grand Avenue Parkway in Pflugerville. Years ago I found hundreds of these sunflowers in that field but mowing has almost wiped them out there now.

Let me point out, as I’ve done in previous years, that the flower heads of Maximilian sunflowers tend to open asymmetrically. You can see that in the disk at the center of this flower head.

For an explanation (or reminder) of why today’s photograph shows dozens and dozens of flowers rather than just one, you can (re)visit a post from 2014.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 16, 2016 at 4:53 AM

18 Responses

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  1. Beautiful flowers!

    Lidia Spoto

    September 16, 2016 at 5:10 AM

  2. 41F this morning … although the 22nd isn’t far away, it certainly feels like fall at the moment. The swirling asymmetries of Helianthus always produce a psychedelic illusion in my head. I remain a child of the 60s.

    Pairodox Farm

    September 16, 2016 at 6:34 AM

    • The Northeast claims me as a child and the 60s as a teenager and twenty-something. I left both behind decades ago, the first to get away from 41°F by September, the second because there’s no way to keep the decades from rolling other than to die, which I chose not to do. For me, psychedelic swirls have given way to the curves in math and nature, like this sunflower where both of those things meet.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 16, 2016 at 6:51 AM

  3. This is a wonderful example of asymmetry in both the disk and ray flowers. Since I haven’t seen any Maximilians yet this year, your post’s a good reminder to look for the same phenomenon when I’m out and about. Last year, I didn’t find any until mid-October, when they already were beginning to fade. Of course, a year ago I wasn’t being quite so intentional about stalking these sunflower stalks.


    September 16, 2016 at 7:15 AM

  4. I always look forward to a new flowering season in the fall. Yes, it is hard to believe it is fall with temps in the 90’s!

    automatic gardener

    September 16, 2016 at 7:25 AM

    • I’m not sure where you live, but in much of Texas fall normally makes its official calendar entrance with a high afternoon temperature still near 90°. As you’ve seen here, that doesn’t impede our second-biggest wildflower season.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 16, 2016 at 7:32 AM

  5. […] bordering Grand Avenue Parkway in Pflugerville on my way to photograph a few Maximilian sunflowers, one of which you saw last time, I spotted a milkweed that I come across only occasionally, Asclepias oenotheroides. It has […]

  6. This bright yellow colour just makes me smile, you can’t avoid feeling happy looking at it:)


    September 17, 2016 at 11:33 AM

    • I’ve repeatedly thought over the years that yellow is my favorite color, and you’ve given a good reason for that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2016 at 11:58 AM

  7. Hey Steve .. I really like the photo with loads of these flowers .. Lovely. Shame that mowing is responsible for a lack of them ..


    September 17, 2016 at 3:45 PM

    • Oh, I’m with you. It’s such a shame to have killed off that great sunflower colony just so the property can be “tidy.” I just can’t understand why some people aren’t happy unless everything is cut down to within an inch of the ground.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2016 at 3:52 PM

      • I know what you mean .. I let grass get long in various parts of the orchard, to create a herbal ley providing tucker for bees and bugs 😄


        September 17, 2016 at 5:15 PM

        • Might providing all that tucker tucker you out? (Most Americans won’t understand that tucker over there is food. I doubt many New Zealanders will understand that tuckered out is an American colloquialism for tired, exhausted.)

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 17, 2016 at 5:33 PM

          • Hey Steve .. No we do say tuckered out! 😃 which is what I am right now after a few hours gardening!


            September 17, 2016 at 10:20 PM

            • The expression appeared in the 1848 Dictionary of Americanisms, which said it was used in New York and New England. That’s why I thought you wouldn’t know it over there. It has apparently spread in the century and a half since that dictionary was published.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 17, 2016 at 11:10 PM

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