Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Engelmann daisies

with 48 comments

I know the Engelmann daisy, Engelmannia peristenia, only from central Texas, yet the USDA map shows a distribution up through the Great Plains into South Dakota. Botanists refer to the genus Engelmannia as monotypic, meaning that it contains just one species. Call that species an only child and no one will fault you for the analogy.

The picture above shows the bud of an Engelmann daisy opening in front of an Indian paintbrush, Castilleja indivisa. The photograph below lets you see what the open and opening flower heads of an Engelmann daisy look like. Both pictures are from Blackland Prairie remnants in Round Rock on April 8th.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 7, 2018 at 4:59 AM

48 Responses

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  1. beautiful photos

    patrick L.

    May 7, 2018 at 5:57 AM

  2. Both photographs have beautiful backgrounds but I like the warm red background the best. It makes me think the bud is snuggled up in a warm bed, waiting for the sun to shine before it opens its eyes.


    May 7, 2018 at 5:59 AM

    • Perhaps it’s the commenter’s impending snuggling up in a warm bed that prompts the personification of the bud and its red background.

      The strong breeze on April 8th had me taking a bunch of pictures to increase the chance of getting one in which the bud and the background red lined up properly.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 7, 2018 at 6:53 AM

  3. A very handsome plant with a nice name. It looks an awful lot like compass plant and prairie dock; I wonder why it isn’t grouped with Silphiums?


    May 7, 2018 at 8:20 AM

    • I’m familiar with a couple of Silphiums in Austin, and in both species the plants are stiff and rigid. In contrast, Engelmann daisies are soft and fuzzy. They’re also smaller than the two Silphium species. I bet there are other differences as well. In fact, one other occurs to me now: the rays of the Engelmann daisy have a tendency to curl back, as you can see at


      Steve Schwartzman

      May 7, 2018 at 8:30 AM

      • Yes, in today’s post I could see immediately that they have a different feel to them from the silphiums.


        May 8, 2018 at 9:10 AM

        • That’s why it’s important to show each species in various ways and at various stages of its life.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 8, 2018 at 9:26 AM

          • So true and photography adds so much to pressed specimens.


            May 9, 2018 at 7:54 AM

            • I’ve often wondered about the differences between pressed specimens and live plants. It seems botanists get pretty good at identifying features of the latter from the former.

              Steve Schwartzman

              May 9, 2018 at 8:24 AM

              • They seem to, yes. And it is undeniable that a pressed specimen can lay to rest doubts about how a leaf is attached, whether glands are present, etc. I find them lifeless and distressing and that is why I started my pen and ink version. I confess that I’m not a stickler for minute detail, though, so I suppose my drawings are of limited value beyond the gestalt of a plant.


                May 9, 2018 at 11:29 AM

                • There’s nothing wrong with some good gestalt.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  May 9, 2018 at 3:06 PM

                • That’s what I always say. One day I was in the field with my friend Ken~he’s a field ecologist for the Lake County Forest Preserves~ and was delighted to learn that he considers himself a gestalt botanist, not a key botanist. He’s one of my heroes so if it is good enough for him, it is definitely good enough for me.


                  May 10, 2018 at 8:14 AM

            • Also, photography wasn’t yet available when botanists started pressing specimens.

              Steve Schwartzman

              May 9, 2018 at 10:18 AM

  4. I’m struck by how closely this resembles our rosinweed (Silphium integrifolium). I found rosinweed in bud and bloom on the Nash prairie yesterday, and the photos of the buds I took look remarkably similar. One of the differences seems to be the involucre, but I easily could have misidentified this one at first sight.

    The second photo suggests some of that wind you’ve mentioned in past weeks. It reminds me of this, by Christina Rossetti:

    Who has seen the wind?
    Neither I nor you:
    But when the leaves hang trembling,
    The wind is passing through.

    Who has seen the wind?
    Neither you nor I:
    But when the trees bow down their heads,
    The wind is passing by.


    May 7, 2018 at 8:32 AM

    • That’s a coincidence: Melissa also saw a resemblance to Silphiums. While you were leaving your comment, I answered hers. If you look at that reply, you’ll find a few differences between Engelmann daisies and Silphiums.

      The Rossetti made me think that winds might be classified by “species.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 7, 2018 at 8:43 AM

      • Those curling rays are an obvious difference, and, as you say, the rosinweed is a taller and stiffer plant. I just trawled through my hill country photos, and I do believe I have a couple of the daisy. Now that I’ve looked more closely at the buds, the Englemann daisy’s don’t really look much like the rosinweed’s. Little by little, I’ll get these DYCs sorted out.


        May 7, 2018 at 9:42 PM

        • A leaf of an Engelmann daisy is good way to distinguish this DYC. In a few days I’ll have a photo of an isolated leaf coming up so you can see the details.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 7, 2018 at 10:02 PM

  5. Your first image is an example of nature’s artistry, and your capture has given us a platform to notice some of those qualities.


    May 7, 2018 at 8:53 AM

  6. Again, perfectly set off against the background: fantastic presentation, Steve.


    May 7, 2018 at 9:00 AM

    • Thanks. The wind made things difficult but I managed to get some images I was happy with. The background is in the foreground of my attention when I take pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 7, 2018 at 9:08 AM

  7. It’s very pretty! I love the first photo!


    May 7, 2018 at 1:22 PM

  8. Mr. Englemann really got around. He named plant specie all over the place!


    May 7, 2018 at 5:10 PM

  9. […] it’s been a good spring for the Engelmann daisy, Engelmannia peristenia, the wildflower you got a good look at yesterday. Above you see a flourishing colony of Engelmann daisies along Gattis School Rd. in Round […]

  10. Both backgrounds are beautiful, Steve, as is the flower itself.


    May 9, 2018 at 6:53 PM

    • Thanks, Tanja. I often look for an angle that lines the subject up with a good background. A clear blue sky works well as an isolating background, though it usually means I have to get down quite low, even to the point of lying on the ground.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2018 at 7:59 PM

  11. Beautiful Steve …


    May 11, 2018 at 3:20 PM

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