Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Euphoria on a Texas thistle

with 16 comments

In a comment yesterday on the recent post showing plants flowering on the Blackland Prairie, Lisa asked whether I had a closeup of a Texas thistle. I answered that I might show a current picture of one in the days ahead. Now let me be more decisive, take the thistle by the thorns*, and post a photograph I took on May 6th of a Cirsium texanum in Cedar Park. Burrowing euphorically into the flower head was a Euphoria kernii beetle.

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* Technically speaking, a thistle has spines or prickles rather than thorns, but you wouldn’t want me to pass up a good alliterative alternative to “take the bull by the horns,” would you?

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 11, 2017 at 4:46 AM

16 Responses

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  1. And the beetle doesn’t seem bothered whether there are spines, prickles, or thorns! It’s taking the thistle holus-bolus.


    May 11, 2017 at 5:20 AM

    • No, the beetle certainly wasn’t bothered about the niceties of botanical categories.

      I believe you’re the first person I’ve ever met who’s used the phrase holus-bolus, about which I found this:


      In contrast, the phrase a whole host of has become very common in recent years. Someone must have waved a magic wand, chanted hocus-pocus, and doubled the number of syllables in good old many.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 11, 2017 at 5:46 AM

      • And I haven’t used holus-bolus in many years. I saw the beetle and, hocus-pocus, the term came to mind.


        May 11, 2017 at 5:58 AM

        • Holus-bolus has been holed up in your memory. You seem to find holus-bolus wholesome, so maybe you’ll use it a whole host of times from now on.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 11, 2017 at 6:38 AM

  2. all at once I’m euphoric.


    May 11, 2017 at 7:19 AM

  3. From what I’ve seen, the genus name fits. More than once, I’ve laughed at beetles I’ve found decimating petals or rolling in pollen; their enthusiasm is obvious.

    When I followed the link you provided, I discovered a photo of one of these beetles on a white prickly poppy (in Austin, no less). Bug Guide says they’re remarkably varied in appearance; they can be brown or black, as well. I imagine this one was happy to find such a nice thistle, and that you were happy to find such a nice pairing.


    May 11, 2017 at 7:44 AM

    • I’m glad to find these beetles, but they usually burrow in head first and deep down, so they’re hard to photograph. The wildflower inside which I’ve most often found Euphoria beetles in euphoria is the prickly pear:


      Steve Schwartzman

      May 11, 2017 at 8:42 AM

      • I remember that photo. It’s amazing to me how much is going on around these flower heads: particularly, how many different species will feed at the same time. And I still can’t get over the worlds a macro lens reveals. I found a crab spider buried in thistle fluff the other day, and when I enlarged the photo, I hardly could believe all the tiny details — or how cute it was. It’s one thing to see someone else’s photos, and quite another to be able to use a camera to reveal details of our personal worlds.


        May 11, 2017 at 5:48 PM

        • A macro lens can sure be addictive. You’ve probably heard me say (in reply to comments) that I use my macro lens the most of all the ones I own. In places more scenic than central Texas, like New Zealand and the American Southwest, the balance shifts toward a wide-angle lens. Here at home, where I spend by far the most time, the macro reigns, for the reasons you’ve just stated. I’m glad you’re having fun with yours.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 11, 2017 at 6:44 PM

  4. That’s a beauty, and I’m glad you grabbed it by its horns-thorns! Having that beetle’s close-up view brought up a new question, “Are the flowers worthy for culinary purposes?”

    Sí, I could research myself but the internet’s been off for several hours and I’d best finish the Timeout post – pronto!

    • I’m glad you asked that question because I found out something I either never knew or had forgotten. Delena Tull in Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest says the taproot and basal leaves of Cirsium texanum can serve raw in salads or be cooked as a vegetable (after removing any spines, of course). “The thick young flower stalk also provides a tasty vegetable.” She doesn’t say anything one way or the other about the flowers. I guess I could take a nibble and see if they even taste good.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 11, 2017 at 7:00 PM

  5. I would say he is in heaven .. 😃


    May 14, 2017 at 1:38 AM

  6. […] the way, Texas thistle flowers have a pleasant scent for people as well as butterflies and other insects. If you’re in an area where these grow and haven’t ever sniffed one, give it a shot […]

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