Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

An unusually open Turk’s cap

with 22 comments

We have Turk’s cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. arboreus) growing in several places in our yard. On September 30th Eve looked out a back window and saw a flower that she first thought wasn’t a Turk’s cap but that turned out to be one when she went out to investigate. Turk’s cap flowers normally stay closed like a pinwheel, so why this one had come apart so much remains a mystery.

To make this picture I used my ring flash so I could stop down to f/18 and get all the nearer parts of the flower in focus. Another consequence of flash with such a small aperture is that the background went black.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 15, 2018 at 4:48 AM

22 Responses

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  1. Wow


    October 15, 2018 at 5:34 AM

  2. Very Nice Steve! Love the detail of the flower and the dark background really makes the subject “pop”!

    Reed Andariese

    October 15, 2018 at 6:36 AM

    • I’d never seen Turk’s cap petals forming such interesting surfaces with such veiny texture. Recording those features was my goal; the black background, a byproduct of the photo technique I used, did indeed set off the red and green quite nicely. Pop goes the Turk’s cap, you might say.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 15, 2018 at 7:19 AM

  3. It’s a very striking photo, and thanks for including the technical info, too.

    Robert Parker

    October 15, 2018 at 8:11 AM

  4. The surface veining is as interesting as the openness. I’m sure they’re related, though I can’t imagine how. I have seen white fly leave flowers as limp as the proverbial dishrag, but I can’t imagine white fly affecting a Turk’s cap. As a matter of fact, I was trying to find out about the pink and white varieties I saw in Nacogdoches, and learned that while RoundUp will cause some color change in the blooms, the plants seem to be resistant even to that — so some kind of herbicide overspray probably wouldn’t have done it in.

    In any event, it’s an interesting photo. The black background’s perfect for it. The red really snaps.


    October 15, 2018 at 8:00 PM

    • You say snaps and Reed says pops. Both are fine with me.

      The surface texture may well be related to the openness, but I have no clue about the cause. I’d never heard of whiteflies, which I looked up. I’d also never heard of pink and white versions of Turk’s cap. Oh, the things I don’t know, and the things I’ll never know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 15, 2018 at 11:32 PM

  5. Bud mites do that to some types of flowers. Something probably just took a bite out of it as it was growing.


    October 15, 2018 at 10:28 PM

    • It’s good to know that bud mites, which I’d never heard of, can do that. As for something having taken a bite, I don’t know; nothing seems obviously chomped.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 15, 2018 at 11:35 PM

      • Well, hopefully, you will never hear of bud mites. Hopefully this is something that you have already encountered. Some types of fungal infections can do it too, but they tend to cause more visible scarring outside as well. It is actually quite easy to ruin a developing flower just by taking a tiny bite out of the tip while developing. Bud mites do exactly that. They just taste enough to ruin a flower, but leave the rest.


        October 15, 2018 at 11:40 PM

  6. It’s beautiful. I know that feeling of getting the black background.😱but it can look great as it does here.


    October 15, 2018 at 11:28 PM

    • Some photographers carry a piece of dark cardboard or something similar to create an artificially dark background. I never do that, but close flash with a small aperture can eliminate background distractions, as it did here. I like the combination of red and black.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 15, 2018 at 11:38 PM

  7. Very pretty!


    October 16, 2018 at 10:37 AM

  8. What a beauty! Great shot and colours 😀


    October 20, 2018 at 12:32 AM

  9. Wow! I have never seen Turks Cap do this! I have several around here that I dug up in Louisiana. Hummingbirds love this!


    October 24, 2018 at 7:54 AM

    • I’ve seen thousands of Turk’s cap flowers, but this one remains a mystery. Whatever its cause, it will live on in photographs and maybe provide evidence for a future explanation. Or maybe some botanist already knows, and I just haven’t come across the explanation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2018 at 8:11 AM

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