Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Keeping an eye on goldeneye

with 18 comments

I began seeing Viguiera dentata, known as goldeneye, flowering in Austin around the middle of October, which is normal timing for these bushes. When I did several closeups of flower heads along Spicewood Springs Rd. on October 22nd, some drops of morning dew or residual rain hadn’t yet evaporated. The light was dull, so for this picture I used flash, then softened harsh parts of the image a little when processing it.

In contrast, on a sunny November 1st I stopped to photograph a good goldeneye stand along RM 2222 about a mile west of Capital of Texas Highway. The tree is a mesquite, Prosopis glandulosa.

And in the “more is more” category, here’s a closer look at the interplay between the bare branches and the masses of goldeneye flowers:

For those of you in cold places, may all this yellow brighten your day. Even in November, Texas still knows how to put on a wildflower display.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 10, 2018 at 4:30 AM

18 Responses

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  1. Beautiful in all of its contexts. I remember several times trying to ID many of the yellow daisy-like flowers in the Asteraceae family. At some point it became nearly impossible because many hybrid cultivars are now used for ‘xeriscaping’, groundcover that can grow where grass doesn’t and hardly require any watering (and used also for ornamental purposes also but mostly to save water). Several are hybrids and to make a positive ID is highly unlikely.


    November 10, 2018 at 7:43 AM

    • You’ve probably heard me mention DYCs, or darn yellow composites. The “darn” expresses people’s exasperation at how many species in the composite family (Asteraceae) produce yellow daisies that can be hard to tell apart. And as you said, the addition of cultivars has only added to the confusion. I think I can tell apart the native yellow daisies in my small area, but I might be wrong. Goldeneye is distinct enough from the others, in part by being bushy, that it doesn’t pose a problem.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 10, 2018 at 8:01 AM

      • Yes, of course I remember, and the fact that your photographs show them in their wild habitat just adds to the beauty of Texas. When you say ‘problem’, do you mean that it doesn’t grow uncontrollably elsewhere?


        November 10, 2018 at 8:12 AM

        • I just meant that identifying goldeneye isn’t a problem because nothing else native here looks enough like it to get confused with it. As for where goldeneye grows, I was surprised some years ago to find some in Trans-Pecos Texas, a good 400 miles west of Austin.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 10, 2018 at 9:33 AM

  2. We only drove by mesquite trees on the way to Oklahoma. I never got close to one. boo hoo. I will be back.


    November 10, 2018 at 8:01 PM

    • There’s no shortage of them here. They can easily take over a piece of land.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 10, 2018 at 8:37 PM

      • That is the impression I got from those who know them, sort of like the Eastern red cedar in Oklahoma.


        November 10, 2018 at 10:36 PM

        • And similarly its close relative that’s dominant in Austin, the Ashe juniper (Juniperus ashei).

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 11, 2018 at 7:01 AM

  3. May there be many more golden years of goldeneyes. The goldeneye pair in the first photo made me think of earrings. Apparently daisy earrings are a thing….https://petalconnection.com/collections/r-flower-earrings/products/classic-yellow-daisy-earrings


    November 11, 2018 at 12:24 AM

  4. I’ve been trying to figure out whether I have photos of this lovely in my collection. I think I might, but they’re from a time when I wasn’t as attentive to leaves, stems, and general appearance, and I just can’t be sure. It’s a slow process, learning these DYCs. What’s certain is that they’re bright and pretty as sunflowers, and nice to have around when everything else is fading away.

    This morning while I was trying to unconfuse myself, I found this UT page that said, “All members of the Asteraceae have two-forked stigmas.” That was a revelation, and it confused me even more when I thought about plants like the skeleton flower; I always thought their little forked thingies were stamens. Now I have something else to put on the “to be explored” list.


    November 11, 2018 at 10:53 AM

    • Do you have any experience with James Mauseth’s Botany: An Introduction? I’m being tempted.


      November 11, 2018 at 11:21 AM

      • No, no experience. The book is tempting but the price isn’t: even the cheapest used copy is around $75 with shipping. Textbooks command high prices because college students have no choice but to buy them. I see that the Austin Library has two copies, so a big library near you might have copies too.

        Steve Schwartzman

        November 11, 2018 at 11:53 AM

        • I’m going to look at our Half-Price Books first, since I’ve gotten some expensive books (Rare Plants of Texas, the Liggio orchid book) there at deep discount. I was surprised to see it could be rented from both Amazon and B&N, too. That’s apparently a new twist: probably for students.


          November 11, 2018 at 7:55 PM

          • Good luck with Half-Price.
            Yes, the renting is for students, most of whom don’t plan to keep the textbook once the course ends.

            Steve Schwartzman

            November 11, 2018 at 8:48 PM

    • As I understand it, in the Asteraceae the five male anthers fuse to form a tube around the female style, which extends above the tip of the anther tube and terminates in the two-part stigma. There are diagrams on the lower part of p. 257 in Marshall Enquist’s book. I’ve often referred to the site you linked to for information about native species in Austin.

      I see from the BONAP map that goldeneye doesn’t make it to the coast

      but gets about one-third of the way there from Austin. You could well have seen it in Bexar or Medina County.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 11, 2018 at 11:44 AM

      • There’s nothing like a moment of sudden comprehension. The basis of my confusion’s been a simple misinterpretation of the phrase anther tube. There’s quite a difference between anthers being ‘contained’ in a tube (my assumption all these months) and anthers actually fusing to ‘form’ a tube.

        Even though I’ve read Enquist’s description of the skeleton plant several times over the months, and looked at that diagram, it just didn’t register. Now it has — such fun!


        November 11, 2018 at 8:17 PM

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