Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A different Gaillardia

with 16 comments

Because I’m familiar with several species of Gaillardia in central Texas, when I saw a little group of plants in Waterton Lakes National Park on August 29th I knew right away that I was dealing with some kind of Gaillardia. After returning home I consulted the BONAP maps for the genus and was relieved to find only one species marked for that area: Gaillardia aristata, known colloquially as common gaillardia, blanketflower or great blanketflower, and even (confusingly) brown-eyed susan, which I associate with a different genus in the sunflower family. In any case, I was taken with this Gaillardia flower head that had dried out and was part-way through producing and releasing its seeds. The curve of the stem added to its appeal.

Click for greater clarity.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 11, 2017 at 4:53 AM

16 Responses

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  1. Nice photo – how did you get that perfect black background Steve?


    October 11, 2017 at 5:30 AM

  2. The seedy beauty of this Gaillardia seemed to belie the meaning of the word seedy. I don’t know how reliable this source is but it would seem that my instinct was right.The word seedy originally meant fruitful and abundant, descriptions which are more in keeping with your photo. http://www.etymonline.com/word/seedy


    October 12, 2017 at 6:09 AM

    • You’re more tuned in than I am; it never occurred to me to wonder about the contradiction between the literal meaning of seedy and its current sense of ‘shabby.’ The explanation offered in your link, “probably in reference to the appearance of a flowering plant that has run to seed,” strikes me as likely. I’m glad you brought it up.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 12, 2017 at 6:58 AM

  3. I think the Gaillardias have especially attractive seed heads. The black background’s a nice touch, highlighting the details as it does: even those bits of green near the stem.

    I was caught by your phrase “several species of Gaillardia in central Texas.” I did discover G. suavis both here and in the hill country, but I wondered if I’d seen others. Thanks to the BONAP map, I found the answer is “yes.” I’ve also seen G. aestivalis, but didn’t realize what it was.


    October 12, 2017 at 8:11 AM

    • I’ll certainly agree on the attractiveness of Gaillardia seed heads. Happy G. aestivalis to you; the species name means ‘summery.’ As for other species in central Texas, you may have seen G. amblyodon as well; it’s the one whose flowers are mostly red. I tend to find it over by Bastrop.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 12, 2017 at 2:59 PM

  4. That stem almost speaks of a swagger, as if the seed head is looking back to say, “Are you checking me out?” Ha ha! We have Gaillardia here on the place, and I have noticed some years it goes to seed and is prolific, while other years the conditions may not be favorable and I only have a plant or two around. Strange how plants thrive some years and not others. One would think if there were huge numbers it would continue to be so.


    October 12, 2017 at 8:17 AM

    • One of the first lessons I learned when I got interested in native plants is how very different a place can be from one year to the next. In my first year I photographed a dense colony of wildflowers (verbena, I think it was) out near Lake Travis. With that in mind, I went back to that spot at the same time the next year and found: nothing, not a single flower!

      I’m assuming you have Gaillardia pulchella up there. It’s by far the most common species of Gaillardia here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 12, 2017 at 3:30 PM

      • I believe that species is correct. And yes, Mother Nature surprises us many times, totally changing things up!


        October 13, 2017 at 10:42 AM

        • And yet some things hold. While certain spring-blooming species here (like mealy blue sage and crow poison) go through a lesser second round in the fall, and while certain other species occasionally bloom way out of season, I’ve never seen a prickly pear produce flowers at any time of the year except spring. Like people, some plants seem more set in their ways than others.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 13, 2017 at 2:18 PM

  5. The curve is an eye catcher as it leaps off the black background ..


    October 17, 2017 at 1:40 PM

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