Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Fragrant flowers, spiky leaves

with 22 comments

When I worked along the northern stretch of Spicewood Springs Rd. across from the Austin Public Library on March 3rd, several familiar spring friends were in evidence. One was agarita, Mahonia trifoliolata, with its fragrant yellow flowers and stiffly spiky glaucous leaves. Handle with care.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 9, 2020 at 4:33 PM

22 Responses

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  1. This comment is not related to your photo in particular, but I have noticed that since your announcement to “take it easy,” you have been posting almost daily! Did somebody/something change your mind?


    March 9, 2020 at 5:31 PM

    • Good question, and one that I’ve asked myself. I had a backlog of commemorative pictures from New Zealand, 10 in all, that are now finished. Also I had all the Philippine pictures to put out, and they’re also done. I’m trying not to post more than two pictures every three days, but it’s spring here, which of course is the main season for wildflowers. Last spring was fantastic south of San Antonio and warranted several long day trips. I’ll see what happens over the next couple of months.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2020 at 5:57 PM

  2. Are they as bad as some of the rose families?

    Peter Klopp

    March 9, 2020 at 9:46 PM

  3. Wow, spiky leaves indeed. Best to appreciate from a distance.


    March 10, 2020 at 2:55 AM

    • Would that I always could. To take pictures, I sometimes have to maneuver the camera (and myself) among leaves.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 10, 2020 at 7:16 AM

  4. All in the line of duty, eh? This is a particularly handsome portrait. I really like the gentle colors in the background setting off that dangerous array of leaves, and the interesting flowers.


    March 10, 2020 at 9:29 AM

    • All in the line of duty, as you put it. And I’m happy to accept “handsome” as an adjective to go with “portrait.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 10, 2020 at 12:59 PM

  5. Some mixed signals here – the flowers are nice, and fragrant per your comment, but those leaves are looking a bit hostile. It’s not native, of course, but a lot of yards in NY have planted hedges with its cousin, “grape holly”

    Robert Parker

    March 10, 2020 at 11:02 AM

  6. A beautiful capture. Love the colour palette and the use of bokeh.

    Otto von Münchow

    March 10, 2020 at 11:06 AM

    • Thanks. I often get close and aim sideways or upward to keep background details out of focus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 10, 2020 at 1:06 PM

  7. […] across from the library on March 3rd, several familiar spring friends were in evidence, including the agarita you saw last time and a few Mexican plum trees, Prunus mexicana. This close-up shows you two kinds of plum buds, one […]

  8. I can taste the jelly already. I smiled at all the comments about those leaves. There’s a reason that agarita berry pickers put a sheet on the ground beneath the plants, and whack them with a stick to get the berries to fall. I can’t imagine hand-picking agarita berries, except as punishment.

    I’ve never seen such dense flowering. I suspect being an urban agarita’s contributed to that, but in any event, it’s a glorious portrait.


    March 11, 2020 at 8:33 AM

    • This agarita had some dense clusters of flowers, as you noted, and they’re what attracted me to photograph several of them. We didn’t have much rain so far this year, and far as I know the plants in this roadside strip aren’t tended or watered by anyone. The flowers were just naturally good, which is sometimes what happens even under not-so-great conditions.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 11, 2020 at 1:13 PM

  9. Interesting blossoms and leaves on this subject!


    March 14, 2020 at 3:34 PM

  10. It IS a Mahonia, wow! I didn’t know there were some near you. I really don’t know much about them at all, just that we have a few and I find them hard to photograph. I really like what you did here. The flowers have a softness that contrasts so well with the leaves’ spikiness. Wow.


    March 20, 2020 at 8:34 PM

    • When I got interested in native plants 20 years ago, botanists still had agarita in the genus Berberis, which accorded with the Berberidaceae family that also includes Mahonia. Yes, these can be hard to photograph because the flowers are small, and neither they nor the spiky leaves lie in a plane. People in Texas make jelly from agarita fruit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 21, 2020 at 5:39 AM

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