Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Scarlet leatherflower

with 18 comments

While at Bull Creek on April 8th I mostly photographed waterfalls but was also happy to see a Clematis texensis vine with a trio of flowers on it. Anyone watching me at work that morning could have said: “He stoppeth one of three.” It could also be said that Austin is home to three native Clematis species, with texensis being endemic to the state’s Edwards Plateau.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 19, 2019 at 4:39 AM

18 Responses

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  1. This is such a beauty. I like it and purple leatherflower for their shape as much as for their color. I’ve not seen a sign of C. pitcheri yet, but I’m glad to know this one’s blooming. For whatever reason, the horizontal view amuses me; it makes the flower seem somehow birdlike and alert.

    I didn’t realize until just now that they’re members of the buttercup family. I don’t know which family I would have guessed it in, but it wouldn’t have been that one.


    April 19, 2019 at 6:39 AM

    • Our tastes align in liking these flowers as much for their shape as their color. The red is endemic here and the purple more widespread in the state, yet I come across the red much more than the purple. I don’t know if the flower was alert but the photographer certainly was.

      It’s a surprise, isn’t it, to learn that Clematis belongs in the buttercup family? Even within the genus, it’s hard to guess from the flowers alone that the two Texas leatherflowers are related to the Clematis drummondii that’s by far the most widespread species in central Texas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2019 at 7:06 AM

  2. The first thing to pop into my head when I saw this image was that it looked as if the flower was pursing its lips (if it had any) for a kiss. I love the blurred green and soft lines of the leaves in the background. What a beautiful, striking image.


    April 19, 2019 at 6:43 AM

    • I’m pleased that you’re pleased with this picture, as am I who strive for abstraction. Now that you’ve mentioned pursed lips I can see the flower that way, though that likeness somehow then led me from romance to the World War II security admonition “Loose lips sink ships.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2019 at 7:12 AM

  3. Yes, or getting ready to speak on its relationship to the buttercups.


    April 19, 2019 at 8:09 AM

    • Neither would I balk at flowers that talk or go for a walk.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2019 at 8:33 AM

      • I’d stroll for weeks to hear a flower that speaks, in words so droll.


        April 19, 2019 at 9:14 AM

  4. Nice! I know a couple of flower gardeners, who are obsessed with clematis, and it is a great pursuit, this one is beautiful.

    Robert Parker

    April 19, 2019 at 8:12 AM

    • Thanks. According to the Wikipedia article, some 300 species of Clematis exist, along with lots of cultivars, so it’s understandable how those two gardeners you know could get fascinated with these plants. I’ve found plenty to keep me photographically busy with the three species native to my area.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2019 at 8:42 AM

  5. Beautiful….looks like lips to me, too…..I half expected a dialogue bubble:)

    Marcia Levy

    April 19, 2019 at 8:54 AM

  6. Beautiful image of a beautiful flower. I had no idea clematis was in the buttercup family. The native clematis in my area are mainly whitish, not as interesting as this flower. Love the soft foliage for a background.


    April 19, 2019 at 10:32 PM

    • Thanks, Tom. The foliage did work well as a complementary background here.

      As unusually shaped (to my thinking) as the flowers of this species are, we have a second native species here that looks similar but has purple flowers. I did a Google image search just now for “Clematis flowers” and had to work my way down through about 300 pictures of what you could call “regular” flowers before I got to a Clematis that has flowers of the type shown in this post:


      Steve Schwartzman

      April 20, 2019 at 5:37 AM

  7. Looks a bit like bleeding hearts. We’ve a hybrid clematis that just lost its trellis to a very windy day. New trellis and a new start. There’s a hybrid of texensis that is called “Duchess of Albany”. Albany, NY or Albany, GA?

    Steve Gingold

    April 22, 2019 at 7:09 PM

    • The “Duchess” seems to take us outside the United States. Here’s what Wikipedia says:
      “The Dukedom of Albany was first granted in 1398 by King Robert III of Scotland on his brother, Robert Stewart, the title being in the Peerage of Scotland. ‘Albany’ was a broad territorial term representing the parts of Scotland north of the River Forth, roughly the former Kingdom of the Picts. The title (along with the Dukedom of Rothesay) was the first Dukedom created in Scotland. It passed to Robert’s son Murdoch Stewart, and was forfeited in 1425 due to the attainder of Murdoch.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2019 at 10:35 PM

      • As with Amherst, lots of Albanys in the world (or is it Albanies?).

        Steve Gingold

        April 23, 2019 at 2:41 AM

        • And in the New York City borough of Queens there’s a St. Albans, about 4 miles west of the town where I grew up. In contrast, the state capital in Albany was about 160 miles away, meaning you’re a lot closer to it in Massachusetts than I was on Long Island.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 23, 2019 at 4:27 PM

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