Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The best year for four-nerve daisies

with 28 comments

The four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris linearifolia and scaposa) is among the most common wildflowers in Austin, with a few occasionally blooming even in the winter. As with so many other wildflowers, they appear in their greatest numbers in the spring. That said, in the two decades I’ve been paying attention to nature in central Texas, I don’t recall seeing four-nerve daisy colonies as large and dense as some of the ones that have sprung up here this year.

I photographed the first and second groups on the east side of Yaupon Dr. on April 26th. The rocky ground is typical of my Great Hills neighborhood, thanks to the limestone substrate in the Edwards Plateau.

I’d come across the colony shown below on the west side of Spicewood Springs Rd. on April 20th. I think it’s the hugest I’ve ever seen.

UPDATE: In the previous post, the majority preferred the first photograph of Heller’s plantain.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 30, 2019 at 4:41 AM

28 Responses

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  1. What’s the prize for guessing the number of flowers in that last shot? Texas is having its own super bloom.

    Steve Gingold

    April 30, 2019 at 5:07 AM

    • That’s the way I felt in March when I drove south of San Antonio several times. The great displays have been fewer in Austin. I’m waiting to see how the final round of spring is here in May.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 30, 2019 at 6:28 AM

  2. Lovely!


    April 30, 2019 at 7:18 AM

    • I looked up daisy in Swedish and found tusensköna, which I take to mean ‘thousand beauties.’ That might be a reference to a daisy’s many “petals” or to the way some daisies grow in large colonies like the ones shown in this post. The English word daisy also started out as a poetical metaphor, ‘day’s eye,’ but changes in phonetics and spelling have obscured the original meaning.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 30, 2019 at 7:35 AM

      • Thousand beauties it is. Ah, day’s eye! Thank you for explaining the lovely metaphor. Somehow they seem to mean the same admiration for this little flower.


        April 30, 2019 at 10:01 AM

        • Another ancient wind metaphor, Old Norse vindauga, or ‘wind eye,’ has led to Norwegian vindu, Danish vindue, and English window. I see that you Swedes threw that metaphor out the window and borrowed fönster from Latin fenestra.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 30, 2019 at 11:42 AM

          • True, and we still pick different directions when constructing words sometimes


            April 30, 2019 at 4:05 PM

  3. It is rewarding, isn’t it, to be paying attention? Over the years I’ve seen irruptions of plants in different areas, sometimes never to be seen again except in my memory. These lovely images provide wonderful documentation.


    April 30, 2019 at 8:33 AM

    • An early lesson from my interest in native plants was how differently a species can behave from one year to the next. You’re right that I’ve become quite the documentarian of such things.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 30, 2019 at 8:38 AM

      • Citizen scientists are making a real difference. I just finished reading a book about natural habitats in North Carolina. There, as here, the professionals are relying heavily on the efforts of volunteers to help natural processes, such as fire, keep functioning. I flashed on a possible future where most people everywhere became involved in the natural world where they live, learning what nature needed to keep functioning. I believe that in pre-settlement times, most or all members of tribes worked together to keep their environment healthy. They respected taboos against over-harvesting, and passed down wisdom to their young about what plants to use for what and how to perpetuate them. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the people of our time would do that? For so long it was man against nature just to survive. It is high time to change that paradigm.


        April 30, 2019 at 8:44 AM

        • The other day I heard that the amount of time kids spend outdoors has declined a lot in recent years. Here’s an editorial from last year about that:


          Even nerdy me used to climb the two maple trees in front of our house, and my two friends and I built a clubhouse in my back yard. One day we rode our bikes 45 miles round trip from our town to the Theodore Roosevelt historic site in Sagamore Hill.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 30, 2019 at 9:18 AM

          • My friends and I used to cover a lot of ground on our bikes, but I doubt we ever went that far! There are so many dangers these days it is hard to send your kids outside. Once when I was pushing the stroller and my son rode his little bike ahead a little, he was approached by a drug dealer! Another time he was riding his bike to a friend’s house and a car hit his bike, sending him into a ditch. Hit and run, of course. Tsk. Not the same world we grew up in at all. And, of course, we didn’t used to have ticks.


            May 1, 2019 at 9:11 AM

            • Looking back after all these years, I’m impressed that we rode so far. I even checked a map to make sure that my memory of a 45-mile round trip was correct.

              Steve Schwartzman

              May 1, 2019 at 10:19 AM

              • Were you pretty tired when you got home? I think I would have been, even though I was pretty active back in the day.


                May 2, 2019 at 9:35 AM

                • After close to 60 years I honestly don’t remember how tired we were. A 45-mile bike ride would sure tire me now.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  May 2, 2019 at 2:55 PM

                • Me too. I had a friend who rode her bike across Canada with some friends during a college break. I imagine they trained for it first, though.


                  May 3, 2019 at 9:53 AM

                • A bike ride across Canada would probably always have been beyond my abilities, even when I was young.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  May 4, 2019 at 12:19 PM

                • Mine too.


                  May 5, 2019 at 7:14 AM

  4. Great swath of yellow! I have two little plants and they’ve bloomed better this year than I’ve ever seen–a good year for four-nerves.


    April 30, 2019 at 9:26 AM

    • It’s good to hear that your two little plants are thriving. This has been an excellent year, and it was a great swath indeed. When I drove past there again a few days ago I noticed that the landowner had for some reason mowed down half the colony. I was fortunate to catch it in its entirety when I did.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 30, 2019 at 9:35 AM

  5. The combination of the daisies and prickly pear is especially pleasing. I’d forgotten that I captured one of those ‘crenels and merlons’ views of a four-nerve daisy bud my last time in Kerrville: on February 24. I’m heading that direction this weekend, and I’ll be interested to see if I find any fields of them in the area.

    I made another trip down to the Galveston cemeteries recently to see what was happening, and what you say about the variability of blooms was on full display. The coreopsis were filling in nicely, but this year the lazy daisies (Aphanostephus skirrhobasis ) are on full display. What’s so interesting is that even in ditches around the west end of the island they’ve popped up where I’ve never seen them before. Maybe my timing’s been off, or maybe it’s just “one of those things.”


    May 1, 2019 at 7:20 AM

    • I, too, liked the combination of the daisies and the prickly pears (which now, by the way, are putting out a few tentative flowers).

      In Facebook’s Texas Wildflowers group the other day someone posted a picture of the Galveston cemeteries and I wondered if you’d gone back there yet this year. I’m glad to hear the lazy daisies are anything but lazy this season. I expect we’ll be seeing some pop up soon not just in ditches but in a post of yours.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 1, 2019 at 8:44 AM

  6. That’s amazing!


    May 1, 2019 at 9:36 PM

  7. Prickly pear are cool too! Mine does not look so good. It is that smaller species that lays on the the ground, even out where it gets plenty of sun. The prickly pear that is native to San Luis Obispo County (here in California) looks more like yours.


    May 5, 2019 at 1:14 PM

    • And ours have begun to flower in the past few days. I didn’t know there’s a smaller species that stays closer to the ground.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2019 at 4:25 PM

      • I am sorry that I do not remember the name. I was never certain about the name anyway. Even though there was only one species that it could have been, it did not quite fit the description. Anyway, it mostly laid on the ground, with a few pads standing upright to bloom. After bloom, they just laid down too, with new pads growing vertically from them. I did happen to bring some back with me. If they grow big enough to spread out, they look like floppy piles of kelp on the beach.


        May 6, 2019 at 1:56 PM

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