Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

May maxed out the wildflowers

with 31 comments

May this year maxed out the wildflowers along Austin’s Capital of Texas Highway, making it temporarily a floral capital in the western hills to balance the granite and limestone one downtown. On the 21st I spent two hours taking pictures in the southwest quadrant of the highway’s intersection with RM 2222. In the first photograph, the purple stacks are horsemints, Monarda citriodora. The flower heads with dark columns and mostly brownish-red rays are Mexican hats, Ratibida columnifera. The round and mostly red flower heads are Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheels, Indian blankets, and blanketflowers.

The second picture provides a closer look, with Mexican hats coming to the fore. You’ll notice that the amount of yellow in their rays ranges from 100% down to a small fraction; that’s normal variation and doesn’t indicate different species, subspecies, or even varieties.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 26, 2019 at 4:37 PM

31 Responses

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  1. I do enjoy your posts which feature such familiar beauties.


    May 26, 2019 at 4:39 PM

    • If only they were more familiar to more people. I confess to not knowing much about our native wildflowers till two decades after I moved here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 26, 2019 at 5:39 PM

  2. I have enjoyed your fields of wildflowers so much. Thank You.


    May 26, 2019 at 4:43 PM

  3. It’s been a fantastic mid to late spring wildflower show. I just wish the City of Austin’s contract mowers would wait to mow until summer.


    May 26, 2019 at 4:50 PM

    • I’ve noticed premature mowing in Austin for as long as I’ve been interested in our native wildflowers. A few weeks ago I left a voice message with the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority complaining about the mowing down of all the wildflowers on Mopac while they were still in their prime. I never got a reply. If you feel like it, you’re welcome to call that organization too: 512-996-9778. I’d initially talked with someone at TXDOT, who explained the that mowing on Mopac got transferred to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority as a result of the construction to add toll lanes. He also told me that if TXDOT were still in charge of Mopac, the wildflowers on it wouldn’t have been prematurely mowed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 26, 2019 at 5:50 PM

  4. Oh, and your photos, as always, are lovely.


    May 26, 2019 at 4:50 PM

    • Thanks. You can imagine what I great time I had taking these pictures (amounting to hundreds that morning).

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 26, 2019 at 5:51 PM

  5. Beautiful.


    May 26, 2019 at 5:09 PM

  6. We struggle (to no avail) to grow the Mexican hats here. What a joy to see them taking over a field.


    May 26, 2019 at 7:41 PM

    • In central Texas in late spring the Mexican hats are usually abundant, and this year is no exception. A couple of posts from now I’ll have a closeup of one, along with an unexpected guest.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 26, 2019 at 7:58 PM

  7. Lovely and colorful images.

    Jane Lurie

    May 27, 2019 at 12:53 AM

  8. This is precisely the mix of species, and the density, that I saw two years ago at the intersection of highways 187 and 39 north of Vanderpool and just wasn’t able to capture. They do make for a beautiful mix: another of those purple and yellow/gold combinations I like so much.


    May 27, 2019 at 6:22 AM

    • So I imagine you’ve now set yourself the challenge of capturing a colony of this sort next spring to make up for the one that got away from you in 2017.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 27, 2019 at 6:59 AM

      • I just found the photos. I took them on June 11, and some of the flowers still were in bud, so maybe I’ll have a chance before next year.


        May 27, 2019 at 7:07 AM

        • Let’s hope so. Though you’re busy this week, the sooner you can go west, the better your chances.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 27, 2019 at 7:32 AM

  9. These places you are sharing are so gawk-worthy. I get excited just find a small clump of something. Can’t imagine what a huge meadow would do to the senses.

    Steve Gingold

    May 27, 2019 at 2:16 PM

    • Happy gawking. Still, I keep wishing you could experience places like this for yourself.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 27, 2019 at 2:42 PM

      • I just mentioned to Michael that I’ll try to visit you and Linda, him and my brother and Lynn next year. Not sure I can pull it off but at least it’s a plan.

        Steve Gingold

        May 28, 2019 at 2:51 AM

  10. […] head of a Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera). Not so for two tiny snails I found on Mexican hats at the intersection of Capital of Texas Highway and RM 2222 on May 21st. Below you see one of […]

  11. Delightful … ah the joy of wild flowers


    May 30, 2019 at 1:57 PM

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