Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A colony of basket-flowers

with 16 comments

Along Pflugerville Parkway on May 26th I found a happy colony of basket-flowers, until recently known to botanists as Centaurea americana and now apparently as Plectocephalus americanus. But what’s in a (scientific) name? Flourishing today, withered and wind-wafted tomorrow.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 30, 2019 at 4:41 AM

16 Responses

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  1. I’m astonished. Just last weekend I finally found a few of these plants with tiny buds developing. I had no idea they already were blooming in some areas. I’m especially frustrated because the place where I’ve photographed large colonies of them in the past has been posted, and when I stopped to check on those plants, a fellow showed up to tell me I’d been spotted on camera. He told me they’re no longer allowing access, and he’d let me go without calling the police — this time. He was quite pleasant about it, but still… Sigh.


    May 30, 2019 at 6:24 AM

    • While I’ve lost most of the sites where I used to photograph but can’t anymore due to development, in a few cases “No Trespassing” or “Posted” signs have popped up on still undeveloped land. I hope you find a colony of basket-flowers near you that’s not off-limits.

      Basket-flowers have been coming out in Austin for some time now. I saw my first open flower head for the season four weeks ago today. In the last week I’ve confirmed fully flowering colonies in several of the places where I’ve grown accustomed to finding them, and added this new (to me) plot in Pflugerville. Unfortunately this new site and a couple of the other good ones on the prairie northeast of Austin will probably get developed within the next few years.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 30, 2019 at 7:27 AM

  2. What a pretty find and image!


    May 30, 2019 at 5:25 PM

    • When left alone in a field, basket-flowers tend to form colonies like this one. I look forward to them each May.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 30, 2019 at 5:29 PM

  3. Now, that’s your profile picture?


    May 31, 2019 at 1:27 AM

  4. Steve, I have an ID issue (well an online blogging pal does). I wonder if you can help? This plant is niggling me as it seems very familiar but I can’t track it down. Growing in north-east England where it gets very cold in the winter. Looks like an Abutilon in the buds, but not when an open flower.


    Appreciate any help!
    Jude xx


    June 1, 2019 at 9:09 AM

  5. One of my favorite things to say is maidenhair spleenwort. I think Pflugerville is right there with it. The colony does look happy, which I imagine is a reflection of the photographer’s enjoyment of the scene.

    Steve Gingold

    June 1, 2019 at 6:56 PM

    • You could say that the colony and I reinforced each other’s happiness. That’s positive thinking, even if the colony probably didn’t know I was there.

      Pflugerville was named for a German settled called Pfluger, which is German for plow-er, which is to say in normal English plowman. I think the inhabitans of Pflugerville will be happy to hear how much you enjoy pronouncing the town’s name. You may want to get yourself an elliptical Pf car decal.


      Steve Schwartzman

      June 1, 2019 at 7:31 PM

  6. […] May 26th, before I photographed the colony of basket-flowers (Plectocephalus americanus) in Pflugerville that you’ve already seen, I’d stopped on […]

  7. […] couple of weeks ago you saw a colony of basket-flowers (Plectocephalus americanus). Now from May 26th along Burnet Rd. here’s a much closer view of […]

  8. […] americanus) photography for this year on May 26th, which provided the pictures you saw of a colony and an individual flower head. On the morning of June 9th, as part of a mostly cultural jaunt to […]

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