Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Away from Bull Creek

with 27 comments

Away from Bull Creek but still in St. Edward’s Park on June 11th I found a bunch
of horsemints, Monarda citriodora, in a clearing. I aimed straight down at one.

It was morning, and the corona of dewdrops atop the horsemint hadn’t evaporated yet,
as you can see more clearly by clicking below for an enlargement of the center.

If you’d like a reminder (or never knew) what a horsemint looks like,
here’s a more-conventional view of one from the side:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 28, 2019 at 4:39 PM

27 Responses

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  1. I’ve met a few horses over the years and they all could use mints.

    Bee Balms although very different in appearance than the ones we have here in the northeast. Like ours they do have a somewhat bedraggled look to them but many more blooms on the stalk. I’ve never photographed ours but guess I will for comparison.

    Steve Gingold

    June 28, 2019 at 4:49 PM

  2. I have never seen this flower before, nor have heard its name. But the photos you took are truly beautiful, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    June 29, 2019 at 12:18 AM

    • You have no horsemints up there, we have no fireweed down here. Each region has its floral delights.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 29, 2019 at 4:38 AM

  3. […] Steve Schwartzman’s horsemint post made me go looking for a bee balm of my own.  I have never posted one and this is from 2008.  Long time in the wings. […]

  4. Despite monarda being a member of the mint family, your top-down view gives this one an unusually sunflower-like appearance. I like the way the still-fresh blooms combine with those that are fading; the color combination is pleasing.

    I was introduced to this one as lemon bee balm by my friend in the hill country. In fact, that’s the place I’ve seen it most often — Gillespie, Kerr, Bandera counties and such. Down here, the spotted bee balm (Monarda punctata) seems to predominate. In fact, some years ago, I was perplexed when I found the spotted. I expected purple, and couldn’t understand why the color throughout whole fields seemed to have faded. The experience was part of my introduction to the concept of ‘species.’


    June 29, 2019 at 7:26 AM

    • Ah yes, species: a great concept, yet seemingly impossible even for experts to come up with a definition that works consistently. Where to draw the line between inclusion and exclusion? Is Liatris mucronata a species or should it be Liatris punctata var. mucronata?

      The spotted beebalm exists in Travis County but begins to be much more common over by Bastrop, and from what you say continues to do so all the way to the coast. Here in central Texas Monarda citriodora predominates, as you also observed. The saturation of the purple varies quite a bit, with some specimens much more subdued than others, to the point of pallor.

      As for the fading blooms, they’re a part of life, but they tend to appear too early for my liking, as I’m always on the lookout for pristine specimens.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 29, 2019 at 7:52 AM

  5. Soo jealous~the horsemint that grows here is a sickly mauve color 😦 This is very beautiful. I’m so glad I clicked on the image taken from above. The tiny dewdrops almost weave a web, they are so intricate. Happy sigh.
    Me, I’m a lumper not a splitter when it comes to species but the litmus test, do they interbreed, is fairly hard to argue.


    June 29, 2019 at 8:30 AM

    • I’ve enjoyed several recent mornings with plants appealingly dewdropped and raindropped. I’m glad you clicked to enlarge and see the wreath of droplets on the horsemint, also sorry if it made you feel jealous. Eve is fond of the rich purple that some of the horsemints take on. In some years we’ve seen a whole colony of them that way. Woo hoo!

      Interbreeding has puzzled me and continues to do so. For example, botanists clearly distinguish Euphorbia marginata from Euphorbia bicolor, and yet where their ranges overlap the two are known to interbreed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 29, 2019 at 8:44 AM

      • Yes. I always chuckle at the splitters. Now they are doing DNA sequencing of so many plants, and that is giving more definitive information although even scientists are learning that life is mutable and un-pin-downable.
        We’ve had a very long, surprisingly cool, extremely wet spring, which the spiderworts love. As a result I’ve been seeing whole fields blue with them.


        June 29, 2019 at 9:11 AM

        • Then happy spiderworts to you. We’ve continued to have intermittent rain here as well, for which everyone is grateful. I like your adjective: un-pin-downable.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 29, 2019 at 10:04 AM

          • For all the rain we’ve been getting, there is no flooding here. The plants are just greedily soaking it all up immediately. I’m glad you are getting much needed rain as well.


            June 30, 2019 at 7:03 AM

            • And it’s been raining again this morning, with chances for more over the next couple of days.

              Steve Schwartzman

              June 30, 2019 at 7:34 AM

              • We had a real gully washer yesterday, with flooded roads and downed trees all over. Soil was being washed from some fields. What crops are in are looking poorly. The poor farmers are really taking a hit this summer, I’m afraid. Selfishly, I love the storms.


                July 1, 2019 at 10:04 AM

  6. Wonderful look at the complex and amazing details…. including the droplets. I enjoyed seeing the more typical perspective at the end of your post!

    Birder's Journey

    June 29, 2019 at 9:16 AM

    • Those droplets are something, aren’t they. I included the conventional view at the end after it dawned on me that plenty or readers wouldn’t be familiar with this species.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 29, 2019 at 10:05 AM

  7. Gorgeous flower with rich colours….beauty!!


    June 29, 2019 at 11:19 AM

  8. The closeup with the dew is lovely, so is the side view. Nice light, vivid colors.


    June 29, 2019 at 11:03 PM

    • With regard to that last picture, shade and f/4 go a long way in accounting for its appeal. I’ll give credit to my 100mm macro lens for resolving the dewdrops in the first view.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 30, 2019 at 5:02 AM

      • I love the look of f/4, especially when it captures the important details, as you did in the last image.


        June 30, 2019 at 9:23 AM

        • I’ve generally resisted having too much out of focus, which often happen with an aperture of f/4. In this case I liked the result well enough to show it. Maybe my standards are changing.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 30, 2019 at 11:12 AM

  9. Amazing! 🙂


    July 3, 2019 at 7:02 PM

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