Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Two stages on the same date

with 28 comments

On November 11 we visited the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. By that date the wildflower known as gayfeather and blazing star (Liatris punctata var. mucronata) has normally long since gone to seed and turned fluffy, as shown above. The plant below apparently didn’t get the word, because it was freshly flowering.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 19, 2019 at 4:48 AM

28 Responses

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  1. Two sides of life … You powerfully presented the two stages of the eternal life cycle, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    December 19, 2019 at 8:01 AM

  2. Genetic diversity in action. It’s smart for a species to have some individuals with different internal clocks so that if conditions disrupt normal blooming and seed times, there is still a chance to reproduce a bit later.


    December 19, 2019 at 9:05 AM

  3. What an amazing difference. All this beauty and an education too!

    Michael Scandling

    December 19, 2019 at 10:41 AM

  4. So humans aren’t the only late bloomers. The only way we’ll see Liatris for several months will be in a bouquet.

    Steve Gingold

    December 19, 2019 at 5:11 PM

    • In Austin during a time of year when our native Liatris is out of season I’ve noticed a market selling fresh Liatris flowers from South America.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2019 at 5:21 PM

  5. The purple color is pretty, but I almost think I prefer it in its gone-to-seed phase.

    Robert Parker

    December 19, 2019 at 6:03 PM

    • When I became familiar with this species in around 1999 I really got off on the gone-to-seed phase after seeing a whole colony of Liatris that looked like the first picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2019 at 5:24 PM

  6. Ah, how those chromosomes tell tales. Plants that in one phase don’t show a family resemblance in another phase may.

    Steve Schwartzman

    December 19, 2019 at 6:13 PM

  7. Both of your photos are lovely! The seeds-for-some and blooms-for-others is exactly where my Gregg’s mistflower, Blue mistflower, and Plateau goldeneye are now. My garden has sustained a couple of light freezes, but some things, while ready to seeds, just can’t give up the blooms. I thank them!


    December 20, 2019 at 2:49 PM

    • Thankfulness is a good attitude. Thanks to some goldeneye plants growing wild in my neighborhood, I’ve noticed that species’s proclivity to put out flowers well past the time when seeds have already been on display for a good while.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 21, 2019 at 5:22 PM

  8. This comment by Linda (shoreacres) accidentally got deleted:

    “What a lucky find; the pairing is delightful. I’ve never thought of this before, but when the seeds and fluff form, the liatris’s membership in the Asteraceae becomes more obvious. At first glance, I thought of goldenrod when I saw the first photo, and had to go to my books to double-check the family. Sure enough: Asteraceae it is.

    Steve Schwartzman

    December 20, 2019 at 5:12 PM

    • Heredity will out, if not in one stage, then in another. Seeds and fluff have often put a plant in the sunflower family for me, even if I haven’t known what the plant is.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2019 at 5:15 PM

  9. No late blooms here, except in the greenhouse. Two fine photographs, the Liatris in bloom especially.


    December 23, 2019 at 4:49 PM

  10. Talk about mixed messages. Is it winter or spring?


    December 27, 2019 at 9:03 AM

    • In places as far south as central Texas, winter and spring merge more often than they do at your more northerly latitude and higher altitude.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 27, 2019 at 11:37 AM

      • If one is familiar with the area, one could escape into spring on those days when winter gets too dreary!


        December 27, 2019 at 12:32 PM

        • Except that down here winter practically never gets so dreary or is so sustained that one longs to escape; waiting a few days for the temperature to warm up is all that’s required.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 27, 2019 at 12:36 PM

  11. It happens. I see it regularly and I’m usually happy about it. 🙂


    December 28, 2019 at 8:16 PM

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