Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Three stages of wild garlic

with 35 comments

Above is a little packet of wild garlic buds (Allium drummondii) on Floral Park Dr. in my neighborhood on March 30. The second picture, taken during the same photo session, shows how buds give way to flowers.

And below from April 1st along Balcones Woods Drive is a colony of wild garlic flowers that had fully opened.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 14, 2019 at 4:37 AM

35 Responses

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  1. We have allium here, and it grows thick enough to scent the air, but I’ve never seen it form a blanket of color like this. Perhaps because here they grow under trees. I particularly like the second shot.


    April 14, 2019 at 7:58 AM

    • I think of the first two pictures as artsy and the third more as documentary (though a pleasing document of what a colony looks like). We have two species of Allium in Austin, and the other one can form groups but tends not to form such big colonies.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 14, 2019 at 10:33 AM

      • Have I told you that the name Chicago comes from the native word for “stinking onion”? According to some sources, anyway.
        Incidentally, the snow is melting quickly this morning. whew. When I opened my curtains I was treated to a pair of flickers right outside my window. Maybe they are hoping to have their portrait painted too! 🙂


        April 15, 2019 at 8:22 AM

        • I don’t know if you mentioned that, but I came across it in some of the research I did when we visited your area. With terms that come from indigenous languages, it’s not unusual to have contradictory explanations.

          As for an avian portrait, don’t flicker away your time, get right on it.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 15, 2019 at 8:42 AM

          • Yes sir! Currently I’m working on a painting of swallows swooping around over a pond. It was SUPPOSED to be abstract. I tried. I really did!


            April 17, 2019 at 1:58 PM

            • Sounds like you couldn’t quite swallow an abstract approach.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 17, 2019 at 2:47 PM

              • I’m going to keep trying.


                April 18, 2019 at 8:09 AM

                • I hope you won’t find trying too trying.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 18, 2019 at 8:16 AM

                • It is hard, but I want to do it because I’m bored with straight representational painting and I want to grow as an artist. I just need to try a bunch of approaches, make mistakes, and see.


                  April 18, 2019 at 8:19 AM

                • Good for you.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 18, 2019 at 9:49 AM

  2. I’ve always enjoyed that translucent sheath, and you captured it well. ‘Packet’ is just the right word.

    I see these from time to time, but they’re always scattered, and however thick they may be, I’ve never seen colonies as dense as this. Now, I’m wondering if Austin provides an especially rich assortment of flowers because of the influence of Lady Bird and the Wildflower Center. Around here, I’m already watching the mowers wipe out colonies of primrose, Texas dandelion, and verbena from the medians and roadsides. Sometimes I get the sense they hardly could contain their excitement if they saw something like this wild garlic. They could wipe that colony out in a flash.


    April 14, 2019 at 8:25 AM

    • At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center the staff are good at removing nonnative species from the property. The Wildflower Center promotes the use of native species here and everywhere else. Nevertheless, it seems that for many mowers, in Austin as everywhere else, no power on earth can get them to stop cutting things that shouldn’t be cut down. Tomorrow I’ll report on a smart mower I recently encountered.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 14, 2019 at 10:44 AM

  3. We have a lot of wild garlic in the pecan orchard.I always thought it was a bit odd for it to flourish in the shade. It’s a pain to dig up and clean, but the delightful, tiny onions are a tasty delight. The flowering stage makes for a beautiful landscape and the scent is amazing as I drive along the UTV path in the orchard. Ours is ready to pick in May… so I’m patiently waiting.


    April 14, 2019 at 8:42 AM

    • How nice that you get to enjoy those tiny onions. May is almost here.

      The terms “wild onion” and “wild garlic” have been used for various species of Allium. Do you know which one you have on your property?

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 14, 2019 at 10:54 AM

  4. Thanks for showing that development! 🙂


    April 14, 2019 at 9:21 AM

  5. Sweet little buds all wrapped up tight in cling film. Your wild garlic has a lovely lilac tinge, here ours are white (ransoms – Allium ursinum) with broad leaves. We also have three-cornered leeks (Allium triquetrum), wild onions, with strap-like leaves and stems that have three corners!


    April 14, 2019 at 10:21 AM

    • “Cling film” is a good way to put it. I’m with you in finding one of this species’s endearing features to be its coloring, which varies quite a bit in tinge and pattern.

      This is the first I’ve heard of an onion with sedge-like leaves. The Wikipedia article on that species says the cross-section is concavely triangular.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 14, 2019 at 11:20 AM

  6. A great set of shots. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but that first one is glorious!


    April 14, 2019 at 12:41 PM

    • Thanks. It’s the most abstract and simplest of the three, which could be two reasons it appeals to you (and me).

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 14, 2019 at 1:22 PM

  7. All nice shots, artsy and not, but what about the 4th stage on your plate?

    Steve Gingold

    April 14, 2019 at 1:27 PM

    • I could say I already have a lot on my plate, so I haven’t tried collecting wild garlic and using it in my cuisine.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 14, 2019 at 4:19 PM

  8. Steve, These are wonderful images. I love that first unopened bud especially. Beautiful isolation of your subject with such nice color and clarity. And the progression of the three works so well.

    Jane Lurie

    April 14, 2019 at 7:35 PM

    • In that first picture it seems f/6.3 hit the sweet spot: good focus on the subject and no details in the background. I’d originally planned to show just that picture; after a while I added the second; finally I added the third to show the full range of this species.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 14, 2019 at 7:45 PM

  9. Beautiful macros! 🙂

  10. You probably have wild onions too. I am told that they grow in riparian areas of most parts of North America. We have flowers that look like your wild garlic, but they are not even related. hmmmm. I can not remember the name. They grew in my driveway.


    April 19, 2019 at 3:19 PM

  11. Wonderful stuff! This post has reminded me that I need to buy more for planting!


    April 20, 2019 at 3:33 PM

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