Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Purple wood-sorrel flower opening

with 36 comments

From the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, here’s an opening bud of purple wood-sorrel, Oxalis drummondii, on September 26th. Since then I’ve continued to see these small flowers in various places around Austin, including right at home. Speaking of which, if you’d like to see what an open flower of this species looked like in our yard in 2016, you can check out a post from then.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 13, 2018 at 4:33 AM

36 Responses

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  1. i love this opening shot


    November 13, 2018 at 4:38 AM

    • Me too, in its own right, and also because I don’t remember ever seeing a photograph of this stage anywhere else.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2018 at 6:28 AM

  2. Just beautiful in its simplicity.


    November 13, 2018 at 7:24 AM

  3. We have three or four kinds of sorrel in our yard. I should endeavor to ID them!


    November 13, 2018 at 7:34 AM

    • Yes, if you’ve got them right in your yard, go for it. Travis County has two species of Oxalis with violet-colored flowers and one with yellow.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2018 at 7:39 AM

      • I looked through my wildflowers photo album and I found both purple (pink?) and yellow sorrel there. I have another variety in my garden space, but it hasn’t been allowed to flower (I pull it to keep from spreading). Maybe I should.


        November 13, 2018 at 8:25 AM

  4. Captivating image. . . . the colors, the black background, the shapes, and gentle curved lines.

    Birder's Journey

    November 13, 2018 at 8:02 AM

    • The way the sinuous curve of the stem leads to the curves of the unfurling petals appealed to me, too. Consecutive posts went from arithmetic to geometry.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2018 at 8:06 AM

  5. I like your capture of the reflective elements in the petals, nice work.


    November 13, 2018 at 8:44 AM

    • Thanks. At f/5.6, I was pleased to get all the important things in focus in this picture. I didn’t manage to do that in some of the other photographs I took of this flower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2018 at 9:01 AM

  6. These are so tiny, I’m amazed you were able to capture it all: the sinuosity of the stem, the details of the bud, and the color. The change of color from green to purple in those lines running through the bud is amazing.

    The deep lavender seemed unusual to me. I’ve always thought of the flower as pink, and that’s what my photos show. Lo and behold, the color difference probably is due to a difference in species. Oxalis violacea is listed for my area, rather than O. drummondii, which the BONAP map shows farther to the north and west.


    November 13, 2018 at 1:42 PM

    • I’m always impressed—and thankful—when my macro lens and camera sensor conspire to render sharp details of small things. That was true here, but as we all know so well, it’s not always the case. In some of the other shots I took of this flower, the foremost curve wasn’t quite in focus. And yes, I agree that the change from green to purple in those lines is fascinating.

      In addition to the fact that you probably have been seeing a different species, as you confirmed by comparing distributions, there’s also the reality that in some species colors can vary quite a lot.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2018 at 4:15 PM

  7. Gorgeous, Steve! We stopped by there once on one of our treks across country. She gave a great gift to Texas.

    Jane Lurie

    November 13, 2018 at 7:35 PM

    • It’s good to hear you made it there, Jane. Yes, it was a great gift. People visit from all over the United States and from other countries.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2018 at 9:56 PM

  8. I can’t help feeling that if I stay and watch this wood sorrel flower long enough it will actually open; a still photo which promises movement. Lovely.


    November 14, 2018 at 4:07 AM

    • I wish I could make it slowly open for you, but I’ll trust to your good imagination. I’m pleased that this still image moves you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 14, 2018 at 6:15 AM

  9. I shot an Oxalis before in P.R. but I suppose mine was an ‘Oxalis debilis’, the one from South America. It is extremely similar to this one.

    I like how yours is sneaking in from a diagonal. Buds are so marvelous, but often overlooked simply because they conceal the bloom.


    November 14, 2018 at 9:14 AM

    • Look at all the species of Oxalis in the United States:


      I like the way you phrased it: “sneaking in from a diagonal.” And yes, buds do tend to get overlooked in favor of flowers. This Oxalis bud was pretty far along in opening, but I’ve photographed buds of many other kinds of flowers while they were still truly buds. I used “buds” as a tag on the posts showing them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 14, 2018 at 9:57 AM

      • I see, there are dozens. Now I question whether mine was an Oxalis debilis or not, but it’s too late for me to double check on that. Now I have to observe the ones here.


        November 16, 2018 at 8:56 AM

  10. Love it! The colours pop against the background


    November 17, 2018 at 11:17 PM

  11. I’ve only ever come across this species a time or two in the field. Such a lovely little thing.


    November 29, 2018 at 8:00 AM

    • “A lovely little thing” is a good way to put it. In contrast to your experience, purple wood sorrel is common down here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 29, 2018 at 10:31 AM

      • That is nice. I wish we did have more of it.


        November 30, 2018 at 8:06 AM

        • Maybe warming temperatures will bring more of these little flowers your way.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 30, 2018 at 9:36 AM

          • That may be so. It would be good if some good could come of it. I’ve been wondering whether anyone is planting Sequoias in Oregon and Washington. Seems like a good idea…wish I owned land so I could do it.


            November 30, 2018 at 3:00 PM

            • In the Wall Street Journal the other day I read an article with the headline “A Warming Climate Brings New Crops to Frigid Zones.” Among other things, the article points out that the growing season in Alberta has already increased by a week or two, and that farmers are doing more planting up there, and planting some crops that they couldn’t have before.

              Steve Schwartzman

              November 30, 2018 at 4:01 PM

              • Yes. What comes to mind too is that most native American tribes were fairly fluid about where they pitched their teepees. That was probably a wiser way to go than our society’s rigid concept of land ownership. I think the coming years arguing to be interesting, to say the least.


                December 1, 2018 at 8:57 AM

                • While individual land ownership may not have existed among the native Americans, the tribes seem to have been at perpetual war with one another over which group would control which land. Ah, human nature!

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  December 1, 2018 at 9:52 AM

                • That is true. Think how bad it is likely to get, when water gets scarce in some places and floods others…is already getting, I believe.


                  December 3, 2018 at 5:32 PM

                • I’m hopeful engineers and scientists will figure out ways to transfer water from places where there’s too much to places where there’s too little.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  December 3, 2018 at 8:28 PM

                • Oh, you mean like the Governors Brown have kept trying to do to Oregon and Washington? I feel that would be a huge mistake. Best for people to learn to live within their means. If they try to exceed the carrying capacity for a region, someone has to be a grownup about it and say there are too many people there.
                  I have heard that there is a move to pull water out of thin air, so to speak, and create a new city in the desert.


                  December 7, 2018 at 8:39 AM

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