Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: Hooker’s mountain daisy

with 15 comments

At the Orokonui Ecosanctuary northeast of Dunedin on February 27th we saw some Hooker’s mountain daisies (Celmisia hookeri), a species classified as being at risk. Notice the white-margined leaves.

As with many other plants in the sunflower family, this one’s flower heads give way to puffball-type seed heads.

After the seeds fall away, the remains are rather sculptural:

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 15, 2017 at 4:28 AM

15 Responses

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  1. Lovely, especially the golden silkiness of the daisy in the last photo. This daisy is the second I have encountered in print today. Earlier I was reading about the critically endangered ”dry plains shrub daisy” (Olearia adenocarpa) which grows naturally only in Canterbury.


    May 15, 2017 at 5:19 AM

    • Then happy double day’s eye (= daisy) to you. I see from the article at

      Click to access olearia-adenocarpa-factsheet.pdf

      that Olearia adenocarpa was identified as a separate species only in 2004 and that only two small (and unfortunately browsed) populations of it are known to exist.

      As for the Hooker’s mountain daisy, that third picture is the one that I also really like. I can see the silkiness you described, though my impression is more metallic.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 15, 2017 at 5:30 AM

  2. I like that third photo. I found an intriguing association between your view of it as metallic and the name of the plant. The New Zealand Plant Conservation Network says on its page that Celmisia comes from Kelmis, one of the Idaean Dactyls. That meant nothing to me, until I looked them up, and found the mythological “Dactyls of Mount Ida in Phrygia invented the art of working metals into usable shapes with fire.” Some associated them with mathematics, too.

    I’m coming to enjoy the seed heads as much as the flowers themselves, and this is a beautiful one. As for the flowers, they certainly recall the “fingers” associated with the name Dactyl.


    May 15, 2017 at 6:41 AM

    • I’m pretty sure 99.9% of the rest of the world, me included, is with you in not knowing about the Idaean Dactyls. That said, I fingered the word dactyl in my other blog way back in 2011:


      Yes, seed heads can be great to look at and photograph. They’re often the reproductive form we see the longest for each species: flowers fade and are gone after days or weeks, but the remains of seed heads can linger into the next year or even the next several years.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 15, 2017 at 7:21 AM

      • It took me a while, but I finally remembered where I’ve heard polydactyl used: in reference to six-toed cats. I hopped from your post on polydactyly to the previous one about syzygy, and was greatly enlightened there, too.


        May 15, 2017 at 7:46 AM

  3. that is a stunning image/portrait of a true beauty. thank you!

    the other images are of equal interest – what amazing order there is in nature!

    i realized a few days ago that i did not reply to your info regarding if the thistle was suitable for culinary use… thank you so much for that info!

    here the dandelion is called, ‘diente de león,’ and the first time i stripped the outside of the root to prepare it/test it, i was surprised to see that it was a pure white color, of course it makes sense why it’s called lion’s tooth!

    • Consecutive Fibonacci numbers make an appearance if you count the clockwise and counterclockwise spirals in the dry remains of the seed head.

      Sorry to disappoint you about your conjecture involving the color of the inside of a dandelion root, but the sources I’ve checked agree that the “lion’s tooth” was a reference to the plant’s “toothed” leaves (which by the way are edible). Common dandelions in the Americas are invasive species, so one way to deal with them is to eat them.

      You’re welcome for the thistle info.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 15, 2017 at 11:56 AM

  4. Bottom photo: reminds me of a fractal. And the one in the middle reminds me of the shot I can NEVER get of a dandelion, I’m envious.

    Robert Cox

    May 22, 2017 at 6:11 PM

  5. Enjoyed this three phases set. I did not expect either the puffball or particularly the sculptural finale based on the daisies in flower.

    Susan Scheid

    May 23, 2017 at 8:13 AM

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