Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Prairie agalinis

with 35 comments

The first picture is a straightforward (though still appealing) look at a flowering prairie agalinis plant (Agalinis heterophylla) that I found in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183 on September 19th. For the closeups that follow, I knelt or sat on a mat on the far side of the plant and aimed toward the east so I could see the flowers backlit by the morning sun. 

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 3, 2018 at 4:52 AM

35 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Just goes to show what you miss if you don’t get closer. They look fairly unassuming from a distance, but wonderfully hairy and spotty close up. And such a strong colour.


    October 3, 2018 at 6:00 AM

    • Ah yes, the pleasures of propinquity; that’s why I use my macro lens so often.

      It was the backlighting that brought out the strong color you mentioned and also made the spots more visible. Whether the spots and the hairs serve any purpose, I don’t know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 3, 2018 at 6:14 AM

  2. Prairie plants are often hairy; I suspect this helps both with limiting moisture loss and insect munching. These are such lovely little plants. I just took a photo of one yesterday but haven’t keyed it out yet.


    October 3, 2018 at 9:50 AM

  3. This is a really interesting flower Steve. As usual your field flowers are really nice. It’s curious to see a stamen-like structure coming out from the center of the flower.


    October 3, 2018 at 10:00 AM

    • Almost all of the plant pictures I show here, Maria, are of specimens in the wild. Cultivated plants have provided only a small minority of my photographs.

      That structure protruding from inside the “bell” of the flower is indeed a conspicuous feature. I’m assuming it’s a pistil because the members of this genus have 4 stamens.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 3, 2018 at 10:30 AM

  4. Great shots Steve back-lit plants just make a beautiful image even better !!

    Bernie Kasper

    October 3, 2018 at 4:19 PM

  5. What pretty blossoms! Great photos too!


    October 3, 2018 at 10:25 PM

  6. Lovely


    October 3, 2018 at 11:32 PM

  7. […] doing my theme and variations with prairie agalinis in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183 on September 19th, I noticed a colony of smartweed […]

  8. As it happens, I found agalinis overrunning ditches and fields down in Brazoria county a couple of weeks ago: more than I’d ever seen. I was certain it was agalinis, but I was cautious about it being prairie agalinis, since I’ve confused your species and ours so often.

    When I pulled out Eason’s new book, things got interesting. He lists five species, three of which obviously weren’t ‘my’ plant. But he noted two yellow lines inside the bell as a feature of Agalinis tenuifolia, not mentioning them for A. heterophylla, so I assumed I’d found A. tenuifolia. Then, you posted these photos. Lo and behold, there are those yellow lines.

    Shinners & Mahler’s mentions the yellow lines in the prairie agalinis, too. It seems the differences between the two species come down to things like the length of the leaves’ petioles. That’s too far into the weeds for me. When I looked at the maps, I decided that I had found prairie agalinis, after all. They’re beautiful plants, and I really like the way you’ve presented them.


    October 5, 2018 at 9:07 AM

    • Like you, I’m willing to wade into the weeds to take pictures but not usually to sort out small differences between species. I’m glad to hear you found more flowering agalinis in Brazoria County than you’d ever seen. Presumably some pictures will follow.

      Prairie agalinis can be hard to photograph because the bell shape of each flower means that some parts are significantly farther from the lens than other parts. The backlighting let me stop down to f/11 and f/13 for increased depth of field. The backlighting also brought out the spots and delineated the little hairs on the fringes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 5, 2018 at 10:26 AM

  9. Hey, I remember something that looked almost like this in Oklahoma. It caught my attention because I did not recognize it, and because it still had a few flowers on it late in October. I think it was more purple than blue, but I do not remember. I thought it looked like it should be related to sticky monkey flower, but I think that sticky monkey flower was assigned to another family.


    October 6, 2018 at 8:41 PM

    • You could’ve seen this in Oklahoma. It and a few other species of Agalinis grow there:


      The flower color varies, so that could account for the difference you saw. And yes, there will still be some of these flowers around in late October, even if their peak is now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 6, 2018 at 8:55 PM

      • Will you be posting pictures of the trees there too? Are there blackjack oaks there?


        October 7, 2018 at 10:04 PM

        • I spent very little time taking nature pictures in Oklahoma when we passed through its eastern mountains on the way back to Austin from Arkansas some years ago. Almost everything I photographed then was fall foliage, of which I posted a few pictures at the time. I’m sorry I can’t say whether blackjack oaks grow in Oklahoma.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 7, 2018 at 10:12 PM

          • Oh, I meant to ask if they are endemic to Austin. They were very common everywhere we went in central Oklahoma. The only place we did not see them was in western Oklahoma, and that was only because it was dark when we drove through there.


            October 8, 2018 at 12:09 AM

            • Ah, down here. Yes blackjack oaks are native in my county. Here’s the distribution:


              I see that Long Island, where I grew up, marks the eastern end of the range.

              Steve Schwartzman

              October 8, 2018 at 5:36 AM

              • Yes, their funny species name implies that they live and were likely first identified in Maryland. I thought that was weird when I first met them. In California, species that are endemic on the coast are very different from those in the San Joaquin Valley, which are very different from those in the Sierra Nevada . . . . There is so much diversity from valley to valley or mountain range to mountain range. It is hard to imagine specie with ranges that extend half way across the continent.


                October 8, 2018 at 11:20 PM

                • I’ve long noticed how different in extent the ranges of species can be: narrowly endemic, or spread through a state, or growing across large parts of a continent, or even inhabiting several continents. I imagine the microclimates in California contribute a lot to plant diversity there.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 9, 2018 at 7:25 AM

                • Yes. The geography here is very diverse, and it enhances the diversity of everything that lives here. That is why the entertainment industry started here around Niles and then moved to Hollywood. There is so much different scenery within just a day’ drive.


                  October 10, 2018 at 9:27 PM

                • I’ve experienced and enjoyed that diversity.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 10, 2018 at 10:01 PM

                • Ha! I enjoy it daily! I work in the redwoods. I sometimes work in the ponderosa pines. My hometown in the Santa Clara Valley is just a few miles away. It is quite excellent.


                  October 10, 2018 at 10:51 PM

  10. Super images Steve .. you have such a great eye


    October 9, 2018 at 1:34 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: