Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Huffman Prairie Pink

with 23 comments

Huffman Prairie looms large in the history of aviation because it’s the place in Dayton, Ohio, where the Wright Brothers improved their early flying machines to the point of being reliably controllable in the air. According to a source that I read during our trip, Huffman Prairie also happens to be the largest native prairie remnant in the state of Ohio today. When we visited on July 21st we found plenty of wildflowers managing to flourish in the glaring summer light and heat. Prominent among them was a colony of echinacea (Echinacea purpurea.)

Here’s what an individual flower head looks like:

And here’s a somewhat bedraggled fasciated double flower head I noticed there:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 19, 2019 at 4:46 AM

23 Responses

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  1. A beautiful scene. I wonder if the Wright brothers saw anything like this in their time on the Prairie or from the air?


    August 19, 2019 at 7:03 AM

    • Huffman Prairie turned out to have the most varied display of native wildflowers we saw on our trip. It made me wonder, as you did, whether the Wright Brothers saw something comparable when they worked there. It’s conceivable that they saw wildflowers without really seeing them, so focused would they have been on their flying.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 19, 2019 at 7:11 AM

      • Indeed. Focused on flying as well as keeping an eye out on landing sites.


        August 19, 2019 at 7:18 AM

  2. No questioning that color.

    Steve Gingold

    August 19, 2019 at 7:31 AM

    • Shortly before posting I added “Pink” to the title. Unlike the cases we’ve discussed where people disagree about how to name a certain color, in this case I think everyone would be happy with pink.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 19, 2019 at 7:46 AM

  3. It is always fascinating to view a patch of flowers especially when they are growing wild. Great shot as always, Steve!

    Peter Klopp

    August 19, 2019 at 8:37 AM

    • As you’ve seen, almost all the flowers I’ve photographed over the years have been growing wild. Only occasionally do I take pictures at a site like the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and even there a lot of the plants are growing wild.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 19, 2019 at 8:50 AM

  4. It is good to see a large stand of Echinacea thriving like this. I once thought they were indestructible, but a scientist here in Chicago is studying them. Evidently they are struggling, as so many other formerly robust species are. Of course here we are at the genus level, and I don’t know whether they are faltering at that level. Hopefully not.


    August 19, 2019 at 9:05 AM

    • Your comment prompted me to look at the BONAP maps for the genus Echinacea and I found that the only species shown in Ohio is Echinacea purpurea. So, unless someone planted another species at Huffman Prairie, what we saw there was E. purpurea, and I’ve updated the text to show that. I don’t know about the health of the genus as a whole. Warmer weather in northern states has meant new places for formerly more-southern species to expand into.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 19, 2019 at 11:23 AM

      • Yes but it also means stress for the species that are already there, and I suspect that that is one of the reasons Echinacea purpurea is struggling. I was pretty sure that was the species that you were showing but there is a similar one I’m not as familiar with and I didn’t want to assume. I imagine that E. pallida is maybe doing better, because it likes it hot and dry and those conditions seem to be increasing.


        August 20, 2019 at 8:49 AM

        • As with any change, some people and some species adapt better than others. Some even thrive, while others struggle.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 20, 2019 at 9:07 AM

          • Seems you’ve pretty much summed up Darwin’s thoughts on the subject.


            August 20, 2019 at 9:09 AM

  5. While we lived in Omaha, purple cone flowers were among our very favorite garden residents, and I could rely on them to frequently attract various fascinating insects seemingly begging for a photo session. What wonderful flowers!


    August 19, 2019 at 1:26 PM

  6. What a wonderful display. I’ve seen these in gardens, but never in the wild. That fasciated flowerhead was a bonus, but even apart from that, the flowery field is remarkable. The pink is pretty, but the combination of the pink and orange is even better.

    I saw E. pallida at the Diamond Grove prairie, and on a trip to east Texas, I found what I believe to be E. sanguinea growing alongside a road in the Big Thicket. They were well past their prime, but seeing even a few of them was delightful.

    I remember us exchanging a few words about Dayton some time back, and I wondered at the time why you were reading about the area. Now I know!


    August 19, 2019 at 8:26 PM

    • What led to our trading comments about Dayton back at the end of June was your focus on Paul Laurence Dunbar. We managed to visit his house on our second try; it had closed for the day a little before we got there on our first try. While I learned about Huffman Prairie from having read David McCullough’s biography of the Wright Brothers, I didn’t know that we would find colonies of wildflowers there in mid-summer. Like you, I’m used to seeing echinacea at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center but hardly ever in the wild, so I welcomed this wild Ohio colony. I’ll follow up in a future post with pictures of a few other native species that were flowering there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 19, 2019 at 9:06 PM

  7. Beautiful stand of echinacea, but I like the second image best – nice DOF choice, very appealing.


    August 19, 2019 at 9:55 PM

    • I agree with you that the second picture is the most esthetically pleasing. The first was mainly a scene-setter.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 19, 2019 at 11:18 PM

  8. […] prairie dock, Silphium terebinthinaceum. Notice the echinacea in the […]

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