Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Two takes on Texas thistles

with 24 comments

Cirsium texanum; Waters Park Rd. on May 5th.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 20, 2019 at 4:50 PM

24 Responses

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  1. Beautiful! I love thistles and your photos are interesting, Steve.

    Jane Lurie

    May 20, 2019 at 6:55 PM

  2. Not far from there is a park at Amherst and Duval. There are a lot of these still there.

    Jason Frels

    May 20, 2019 at 9:28 PM

  3. Outstanding shots, Steve!


    May 20, 2019 at 9:41 PM

  4. Is that red another flower or did you manage to blue the petals?

    Steve Gingold

    May 21, 2019 at 2:30 AM

    • For a long time I’ve been fond of playing off one stage of a plant against another. I lined up the bud in the second photograph so that an open thistle flower head behind it would become a contrasting magenta glow.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 21, 2019 at 4:55 AM

  5. I enjoyed the wonderful bokeh of the flower.


    May 21, 2019 at 6:13 AM

    • As a photographer you’ll appreciate how much I worked to get that bokeh lined up well, given that the open thistle flower head behind the bud kept swaying in the breeze.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 21, 2019 at 6:18 AM

  6. The thistles are thick here now (and that phrase just reminded me how hard it was to get past pronouncing the word “thith-el” when I was young). They’re one of my favorites, partly because the butterflies will spend time on them instead of just flitting by. But as pretty and useful as the flowers are, the structure of the buds is especially interesting, and you’re shown it well here.


    May 22, 2019 at 6:41 AM

    • I imagine the thick thithles have provided you with plenty of recent pictures. As you’ve said, the buds have a fascinating architecture, quite geometric. I look forward to them each spring, as well as to the flowers, of course, which have an enjoyable fragrance that people may not expect.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 22, 2019 at 7:06 AM

  7. Oh so good Steve! I have to ask, what lens is that?


    May 23, 2019 at 8:13 PM

    • For both of these it was the Canon 100mm f/2.8L macro, which is the lens I use the most often of all.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 23, 2019 at 9:07 PM

  8. What is the flower in your profile picture?


    May 25, 2019 at 9:15 AM

  9. I have a lot of “takes” on thistles! They are my nemesis in the orchard… I feel like we will never get rid of this invasive species. I do have to admit though, that they are beautiful and I like the way the flower heads wave in the wind. They look like “alien eyes” to me, and I have an area that I refer to as “land of the aliens” because they tend to congregate there – thanks to the neighbor to the south who never eradicates them. I wish the wild hogs would eat them… I understand hogs eat everything!


    June 10, 2019 at 8:13 AM

    • I can understand how thistles would be a nemesis in your orchard. I have the luxury of looking at them strictly as a photographer, and like you, I’ve accumulated plenty of takes over the past two decades. I find the “alien eye,” as you call it, especially appealing. Yesterday at Flower Mound northwest of Dallas I photographed some buds that were beginning to open. I also find the scent of Texas thistle flowers quite pleasant. That’s another positive that might do a little to offset the negative for you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 10, 2019 at 8:23 AM

      • Next trip out to dig up thistle, I shall remember to put my nose to the flowers. I really do wish they served a good purpose… they’re beautiful and quite unusual.


        June 11, 2019 at 6:51 AM

        • Yes, do take a whiff. If your olfactory accords with mine, you’ll enjoy the aroma. I’m sure the thistles serve a good purpose, ecologically if not directly for farmers and ranchers.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 11, 2019 at 9:47 AM

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