Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Also tall and slender

with 38 comments


Echoing the gaura that grew tall and slender
at the southwest corner of US 183 and N. Lamar Blvd. on
March 30 was the greenthread (Thelesperma filifolium)
shown here. I’d been seeing this species flowering
in various places around Austin since January but hadn’t
photographed any. The unusually long stalk gave me
a good reason to break my greenthread photo fast.
Below is a view of the flower head from the other side.
Notice that greenthread shades a little toward orange.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 5, 2019 at 4:45 AM

38 Responses

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  1. Greenthread, yellow and tall. It looks so proud, standing there.


    April 5, 2019 at 7:56 AM

    • I, in contrast, got down on the ground so I could look up at the greenthread standing tall without seeing anything else nearby that would’ve interfered with the portrait.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 5, 2019 at 8:04 AM

      • I was just having a conversation with Linda about ticks…. I know that you put something down, first. That is wise.


        April 5, 2019 at 8:08 AM

        • I cut an exercise mat into three pieces and carry one with me. That’s primarily physical, to give me some protection against the hardness and roughness of the ground and prickly plants, of which Texas has many. Ticks haven’t been a problem for me down here the way they’ve been for you in Illinois. In my two decades of wandering in nature here I’ve found a tick on me only a handful of times.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 5, 2019 at 8:13 AM

          • Well that’s good. I suspect they are pretty thick in North Carolina, where I’m thinking we should retire to. I sure miss the days when we didn’t have any at all.


            April 5, 2019 at 5:32 PM

            • Here’s what you’d be up against:


              Steve Schwartzman

              April 5, 2019 at 6:25 PM

              • Oh joy, what a lineup. While the medical field is arguing about it, people are getting sick. They have a vaccine to protect dogs, why the heck can’t they develop something for humans? I remember a friend of mine bought a cabin in Kentucky and wanted to show it to me so we drove down for the weekend. The ticks were so bad you could sit on the porch and watch them approach across the lawn, even though it had been mown regularly as is recommended.


                April 6, 2019 at 9:24 AM

                • Oh, I sure hope North Carolina isn’t as bad as that.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 6, 2019 at 9:26 AM

                • Me too! I didn’t see any ticks at all when we were there, and we did poke around quite a bit in botanic gardens.


                  April 6, 2019 at 9:34 AM

                • That’s comforting.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 6, 2019 at 9:59 AM

          • Do you encounter fire ants much? I was shocked when we were visiting a friend of ours who lives in Dallas. Just standing next to his driveway, in sandals, I was attacked.


            April 5, 2019 at 5:33 PM

            • Fire ants are unfortunately quite common in Texas. When I’m out in nature and stand in one place for a while, it’s a good idea to look down and check that I’m not standing on a nest.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 5, 2019 at 6:28 PM

              • I was amused last week to discover two fireant bites under my chin. It’s clear whose approach to flower photography I was attempting to replicate.


                April 6, 2019 at 8:20 AM

                • Sorry: that’s not a lesson I’d want to teach to any wildflower photographer.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 6, 2019 at 8:26 AM

                • They weren’t nearly as annoying as the poison ivy I somehow ran into. It’s chancy out there.


                  April 6, 2019 at 8:30 AM

                • Oy vey, a double dose of itching: not at all what we’d be wishing.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 6, 2019 at 8:33 AM

              • When I’m standing in a snowbank, muttering dark things, one of the thoughts that gets me through is that at least the cold up here is a deterrent to those nasty beasties.


                April 6, 2019 at 9:19 AM

                • How right you are. And the ground where you are doesn’t harbor nearly as many pointy, prickly, thorny plants as Texas does.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 6, 2019 at 9:23 AM

                • Ah, that is true. I know that quite a few cacti look innocent until touched. I guess paradise has to have a few thorns and stings. It sure is beautiful there, though.


                  April 6, 2019 at 9:36 AM

                • Especially in the places I’ve highlighted, which of course is why I’ve shown them,

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 6, 2019 at 10:02 AM

  2. That tall, almost improbable-looking stalk really makes it a neat picture.
    The worst ticks I’ve encountered were at the Antietam battlefield in Maryland, and at Jamestown, VA – – they would wade through insect repellents to get some blood. Soaking your pants in permethrin before heading out does seem to be the best bet.

    Robert Parker

    April 5, 2019 at 10:51 AM

    • You probably noticed that not only is each picture cropped tall and narrow, but I also practiced a bit of meta-photography by having the post as a whole be even more elongated vertically.

      Some people’s body chemistry is more appealing to little critters than others’. I’m a real mosquito magnet but fortunately it seems ticks aren’t so partial to me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 5, 2019 at 3:01 PM

  3. Beautiful whichever way you look at it. To tall and slender, I would add scented and good for a cuppa, if Wiki hasn’t led me astray.


    April 6, 2019 at 2:58 AM

    • I’m afraid Wikipedia may have led you astray in one respect. When I looked at the Wikipedia article for greenthread at


      I noticed that the picture shows a species of Coreopsis rather than greenthread. I left a note to that effect on the editors’ talk page for that article.

      I’ve never tried making a tea from either of the Thelesperma species in my area, but one of my wildflower books confirms that it has been done.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 6, 2019 at 7:15 AM

  4. That’s a lovely flower, thanks both to that long stem and to its general perkiness. The play of light and shadow on the petals is delightful; it makes it seem almost bi-colored. I spent a good bit of time recently trying to decide if I’d found greenthread or coreopsis. One of the interesting clues I hadn’t known about is that greenthread buds droop over before opening, and that helped cement the choice, since my photo includes buds as well as flowers.

    Vis-a-vis yellow and orange, of course I took my camera when I made my quick run down to the Galveston cemetery. It was a cloudy, windy day, and I was pleased to see that some changes in approach resulted in yellow primroses. The coreopsis still were more orange than I saw the flowers in real life, but I decided there might be something in the flowers themselves that contributes to that. In any event, I took the first step of shooting in both RAW and jpeg, so we’ll see what I can do with them.


    April 6, 2019 at 8:27 AM

  5. The vision from the front side is so very Georgia O’keeffe. Often your work channels her painting; it’s all in the shadow and light. Strangely, as much as I love her florals I don’t own any of her work. Not even a print which is probably what I could afford. 😀

    Lovely as always.


    April 6, 2019 at 11:52 AM

    • Hi, Lynda. As much as I like Georgia O’Keeffe’s work—I’ve been to her museum in Santa Fe twice and seen her pieces in many other places—I wouldn’t have imagined linking this post’s front-sided greenthread portrait to her. On the other hand, the very fact that I think of so many of my flower pictures as portraits is definitely in the spirit of much of her work.

      As for your not owning any prints of her art, now that you’ve brought it up, perhaps you’ve given yourself the impetus to get one, or to have somebody get one for you: If a birthday or anniversary is coming up, you could drop a hint that that’s what you’d like.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 6, 2019 at 12:05 PM

  6. Is it not supposed to be orange?


    April 7, 2019 at 10:51 PM

  7. […] at the tip of a bare stalk as much as two-and-a-half feet long. Add this wildflower to the svelte greenthread and gaura you saw here […]

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