Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Cowpen daisy

with 13 comments


At Guadalupe River State Park on September 29th I found a cowpen daisy plant (Verbesina encelioides) that was flowering. Dig those dark shadows.

Only once before has Verbesina encelioides appeared in these pages. Does the genus name sound familiar? Perhaps it’s because frostweed is also in that genus.

As attractive as the flower heads of the cowpen daisy are, the plant has an unpleasant odor.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 10, 2016 at 4:58 AM

13 Responses

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  1. I first met these in the Hill Country, but they were in a donkey pen rather than a cow pen. I asked why the donkey didn’t eat the flowers. They looked pretty tasty to me, but a neighbor said he clearly preferred grass and imported hay.

    I’d planned to have a new post up last night, but wonky wifi led to some teeth-gnashing and no post. So, I’ll just add that, in southwestern Arkansas, there are some fall color hints around, including bits of brilliant sumac.


    October 10, 2016 at 7:32 AM

    • Hey (hay?), that’s an interesting neighbor you have, who prefers to eat grass and such. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) For me cowpen is just a name, but you’ve validated it by having seen these flowers in an animal’s pen.

      I like the sound of wonky wifi (but of course not the defect itself). And did you notice that wonky rhymes with donkey? I just did a search and found there’s a children’s song named “The Wonky Donkey.”

      Happy hints of fall to you. I remember the bright sumac in Arkansas from the fall of 2013. I hope you get some good pictures of that. Chances should be even better on your way back south.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 10, 2016 at 7:51 AM

      • Wonky Donkey written and sung by a New Zealander. Cowpen refers to the smell of a cow pen, I suppose.


        October 13, 2016 at 4:54 AM

        • I’d happily noticed the New Zealand connection.

          You may well be right that the reference is to the smell of a cowpen. I just found out that another old name for this flower is skunk daisy.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 13, 2016 at 7:06 AM

  2. It’s s good thing its pollinators don’t find its fragrance unpleasant. Maybe you should try thinking like a bumblebee.


    October 12, 2016 at 10:40 AM

  3. Is it likely that the flower’s aroma is targeted at a specific pollinator, some kind of fly perhaps that frequents animal enclosures?


    October 14, 2016 at 12:08 PM

    • You raise a good question. I’m sorry to say I have no knowledge about the appeal of the odor to specific pollinators. As for animal enclosures, there wouldn’t have been any here until at best some thousands of years ago, perhaps not even until the Europeans arrived relatively recently. My impression is that that wouldn’t have been enough time, but I readily admit I’m no biologist.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 14, 2016 at 2:46 PM

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