Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Bright autumn yellow

with 45 comments

What would fall in Austin be without the bright yellow flower spikes of Helianthus maximiliani, the Maximilian sunflower? This October 19th view is from the walk in Pease Park I mentioned last time.

On November 11th at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center I got in closer for a more-abstract portrait:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 23, 2019 at 4:41 AM

45 Responses

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  1. The petals in the second shot look like a candle 🔥 flame. it’s a nice cheerful flower for the fall, I wish we had some up in the north!

    Robert Parker

    November 23, 2019 at 8:02 AM

    • I, too, saw a flame rising in the second picture. I chose not to mention it because I didn’t want to influence people’s perceptions.

      Even after a couple of freezes earlier this month we still have some wildflowers. That’s the norm here. Sorry you can’t say the same.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 23, 2019 at 9:23 AM

  2. I like the twisted shape of the yellow petal against the dark background. Great macro, Steve!

    Peter Klopp

    November 23, 2019 at 9:24 AM

    • I’ve been showing a bunch of dark-background pictures lately. Seems to be a phase I’m going through.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 23, 2019 at 9:50 AM

  3. I like finding these in some off place and collecting a few to take home.


    November 23, 2019 at 9:32 AM

    • Years ago we gathered some Maximilian sunflowers and used them (along with a couple of other kinds of fall wildflowers) as wedding decorations.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 23, 2019 at 9:52 AM

  4. I can’t unsee the flame, but why would I want to? Beautiful.

    Michael Scandling

    November 23, 2019 at 9:44 AM

  5. We do get max up here, but it looks and behaves a bit differently. Also of course, it was done weeks ago. We didn’t get much bloom this fall because of all the rains we got, and pretty cool temperatures.


    November 23, 2019 at 11:04 AM

    • In what way do your Maximilian sunflowers look and behave a bit differently?

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 23, 2019 at 11:21 AM

      • Well for one thing they always flop over about the time the flowers open. For another, the flowers are not so numerous on each stalk.


        November 24, 2019 at 9:02 AM

        • I remember your mention of the flower stalks flopping over, which only some of ours do. Many here stand tall and remain that way. I wonder why yours are more prone to flop over.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 24, 2019 at 9:20 AM

          • I wonder as well. Perhaps it is because it is typically wet here, and the plant grows too fast to build a stem stiff enough to stand up. But then, I often see cup plants flop over when the flowers open as well, and that is the most buttressed stem I know.


            November 24, 2019 at 9:54 AM

  6. As far as I can see from my vantage point in Colorado, besides a wonderful array of birds, blooming wildflowers in November are a second Texas asset! 😊


    November 23, 2019 at 4:45 PM

    • Texas says to Colorado: Right you are! While out today I saw two species of asters, some yellow composites, and even a goldenrod that has kept on flowering for weeks.

      English created asset as the singular of the mistakenly-presumed-to-be-plural assets, from Old French assez (where the z was pronounced ts as in German).

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 23, 2019 at 6:28 PM

      • I’m glad for you, Steve. While out today, my boots were soaked by melting snow from a 3 inch snowfall yesterday. Some flowers wore fluffy white bonnets instead of yellow petals.
        Merci pour la leçon!


        November 23, 2019 at 6:55 PM

  7. We have Maximilian sunflowers here, but the blossoms seem a bit more sprawled out compared to that nice, tight spike in your photograph. Then again, maybe what I’ve always thought were Maximilian are something else. I really love the twisted petals on the second photograph.


    November 23, 2019 at 6:15 PM

  8. A sunflower stalk!! Very pretty!


    November 23, 2019 at 7:40 PM

    • Maximilian sunflowers tend to grow that way, in contrast to the common sunflower’s less linear, spreading growth habit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 24, 2019 at 7:28 AM

  9. Just a note: when I clicked the link meant to direct us to the meaning of the idiom, it did exactly that.

    The photos are beautiful. I’ve been hoping to find some stray Maximilians, but I haven’t strayed far enough from home. There still may be time. I also saw a candle and flame in the second photo, but I was just as taken by the curved and twisting bracts, which seem to form a perfectly matched base for the candle. As both of the photos make clear, that Maximilian is a very fancy sunflower!


    November 23, 2019 at 8:18 PM

    • Thanks for corroborating the link. WordPress does some strange things.

      In several places that we drove past yesterday we saw Maximilian sunflowers still looking fresh, so there’s a good chance that your warmer area still hosts some as well.

      I like the narrow, curvy, and twisting bracts, too, though I find them harder to get a good picture of than the flowers per se.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 24, 2019 at 8:09 AM

  10. The image of the tall spike is lovely, but I really like the closeup of the twisted petal. There have been sightings of Maximilian in my area, but I’m not sure if I’ve seen it, or another DYC. That link went to the Free Dictionary for me…


    November 23, 2019 at 9:53 PM

    • That closeup of the ray floret doing the twist seems to be most people’s favorite of the two. The original version of the post included only the first photograph, so I did well in adding the second.

      Thanks for letting me know the link worked properly for you, too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 24, 2019 at 8:29 AM

  11. Aloha, Is that minute object in blue the egg of a Lacewing insect? Mahalo, y

    Yoli Bucknam

    November 24, 2019 at 5:34 AM

    • It’s good of you to spot that little blue ellipsoid. I’m no entomologist, but it sure looks like it might be a lacewing egg.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 24, 2019 at 8:55 AM

  12. The closeup is really very nice. The detail and “architectural” detail is quite pleasing to see.

    Steve Gingold

    November 24, 2019 at 5:37 AM

  13. I love that close-up, Steve, it’s really fun. The petals are so expressive.


    November 24, 2019 at 11:50 AM

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