Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Brickellia flowering in January

with 22 comments

Brickell-bush, Brickellia cylindracea, is a wildflower I don’t see as often as many others. One field guide describes it as having unbranched, upright stalks. I’ll go for unbranched, but in this case the two stalks I found were lying inconspicuously on the ground. Maybe I wouldn’t’ve have noticed them if I hadn’t stopped on January 18th to photograph the adjacent goldeneye and boneset that you’ve seen in recent posts. The profile above shows that even mature flower heads stay mostly closed. The view below gives you a better look at the disk flowers; there are no ray flowers in this genus. The brown in the background came from a bed of fallen leaves—this is January, after all—and adds to the mood (or moodiness) of the two portraits.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 28, 2020 at 4:46 AM

22 Responses

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  1. You are making me envious and I may just have to start posting memories until the real things come along.

    Steve Gingold

    January 28, 2020 at 5:02 AM

    • I’ve read reports of other wildflowers coming up here prematurely. Still, you don’t need to fret as long as you’ve got your ice patterns.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2020 at 8:32 AM

  2. …and Brickell-bush is found only in Central Texas. Enjoyed seeing this unique plant.


    January 28, 2020 at 5:29 AM

  3. Interesting! Nice details you have captured.


    January 28, 2020 at 8:32 AM

  4. This wildflower seems to be stretching and grabbing for sunlight and life! I love that fallen leaves provided the “moodiness” of the season.


    January 28, 2020 at 9:03 AM

    • You’re in a colder zone than Austin, and that may contribute a little to your sense of grabbing for sunlight. The brown background was a welcome alternative to the black or almost black backgrounds in the other recent wildflower pictures I’ve posted. As for moodiness, I see that as a plus in nature photographs.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2020 at 9:23 AM

  5. With that toffee-colored background, I couldn’t help thinking this could pass for buttery-Brickell. If you’ve posted this before, I don’t remember it, and I’m sure I’ve never seen it. I found B. eupatorioides listed in Eason’s book, but he notes that species isn’t found on the coastal plain, either. It’s interesting that this one’s blooming at the same time as the boneset, since B. eupatorioides is known as false boneset.


    January 28, 2020 at 9:06 AM

    • You’re doing well in not remembering a previous picture of this plant here. Although I’ve encountered this species a few times in the years this blog has been running, somehow I never got around to posting any pictures till now. I’d have mentioned that in the text, as I generally do with the first view of a species, if only I’d realized it.

      When I first found Brickellia eupatorioides about 20 years ago I couldn’t make a match with anything in Marshall Enquist’s book. Then the first big Shinners and Mahler’s volume appeared and I figured out what I’d seen. I’ve never posted a picture of that species, either. Speaking of Marshall Enquist, he lists the bloom period for Brickellia cylindracea as September–November, so the specimen shown here is apparently a hold-over through our mild winter rather than a prodigy of what’s due toward the end of the year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2020 at 9:34 AM

  6. Interesting It has “bush” in the common name but it doesn’t seem very bushy. I really like these moody brown-infused images.


    January 28, 2020 at 9:42 AM

    • I agree with you. Even when these stalks stand upright (unlike my specimen), they only grow to about three feet in height. Unbranched stalks of that height hardly seem to warrant being called a bush. But hey, this is Texas, where even towns of just a few thousand or even a few hundred people sometimes have “City” in their name.

      The brown helped me out here, and I was grateful for the added moodiness.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2020 at 9:47 AM

      • You gotta love Texas, where everything is bigger 🙂


        January 29, 2020 at 8:45 AM

        • And warmer, which suits my body.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 29, 2020 at 12:00 PM

          • Amen to that! We’ve warmed all the way up to freezing here~can the Bermuda shorts be far behind?


            January 30, 2020 at 8:33 AM

            • We hit 75° here the other day, though it’s colder again now.

              Steve Schwartzman

              January 30, 2020 at 9:56 AM

              • Yes and I believe it hit 70 in Massachusetts a few weeks back, too. Oh, well. In a couple of years I’ll be enjoying the views of the Blue Ridge.


                January 30, 2020 at 10:48 AM

  7. Steve, I am beginning to get envious at your abundance of flowers in the dead of winter. Haha, just joking!

    Peter Klopp

    January 28, 2020 at 5:40 PM

    • It’s not yet an abundance but I’ve read a few reports of people in Texas seeing other flowers that don’t normally appear till a little later in the year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2020 at 7:19 PM

  8. Here’s a coincidence. Obviously, today’s earthquake also was felt in south Florida. Reading about the Miami area, I found ‘Brickell’ mentioned again and again. I learned that Brickell is an urban neighborhood in Miami, and the heart of its financial district. It’s named for William and Mary Brickell, who established Miami; their name is all over shopping malls, bridges, festivals, and so on.

    There’s no obvious connection to the Irish botanist, John Brickell (1748–1809) who gave this plant its name, but on the other hand, who’s to say? Mary met William in Australia, and the time frame is right for William’s family to be among the many Irish people who migrated there during the potato famine. There’s an interesting short entry about them here.


    January 28, 2020 at 7:00 PM

    • I hadn’t heard about yesterday’s earthquake, which I see fortunately didn’t do much damage. I see what you mean about the Brickell name: the CNN article I read about the earthquake in just now mentioned a building on Brickell Ave. in Miami. Given the extensive genealogical records available online these days, some of the descendants of William and Mary Brickell probably know whether they’re related to Irish botanist John Brickell.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 29, 2020 at 4:32 AM

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