Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Stemless evening primrose flower opening

with 33 comments

From the West Pickle Campus in north Austin on March 18th, here’s the mostly closed flower of a stemless evening primrose (Oenothera triloba). The first word in the common name distinguishes this evening primrose from others: each flower stalk emerges directly from a basal rosette of leaves, and the plant has no real stems. Fully open fresh flowers are yellow, rather than the peach at the stage shown here. And speaking of colors, the area that shows up as bluish purple didn’t seem so at the time; processing the photograph intensified the faint color that must have been there all along, even while leaving the hues of the flower and sheath the way I actually saw them. Now I can ask once more: what’s reality, anyway?

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 5, 2020 at 4:33 PM

33 Responses

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  1. It’s a petiole I can do is see this from afar and not smell its scent.

    Steve Gingold

    April 5, 2020 at 4:45 PM

    • You’re on a roll with your petiole, though it’s too bad the scent I sent didn’t make the ascent so far north.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 5, 2020 at 4:55 PM

  2. It may be seamless, but it seems ruffly to me. Beautiful!


    April 5, 2020 at 5:37 PM

  3. It’s good that something so prim rose to your attention, anther was an opportunity to share it with us.


    April 5, 2020 at 6:20 PM

    • You’re anticipatorily in the pink when you punningly extrapolated from this post: today I took lots of pink evening primrose pictures, some that included anthers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 5, 2020 at 9:53 PM

  4. Really fascinating. It almost looks like a crepe paper flower bud. I like the background. It’s funny sometimes how we can see things in post that we didn’t notice in person.

    Todd Henson

    April 5, 2020 at 7:43 PM

    • There have been plenty of times when I’ve processed a picture and noticed an insect or spider I didn’t see at the time I took the picture. This color change was a different phenomenon because I did see the area in question but it didn’t look so colorful.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 5, 2020 at 9:56 PM

  5. As an artist, reality is whatever you say it is.

    Michael Scandling

    April 5, 2020 at 7:57 PM

  6. It’s beautiiful, Steve, with lots of nice texture.

    Peter Hillman

    April 6, 2020 at 3:52 AM

    • That convoluted texture is what called out to me to make the portrait. I found a position from which the upper half of the background would be dark and the lower half brighter.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 6, 2020 at 6:59 AM

  7. Beautiful 💖

  8. The black and purple background adds charm and beauty to the macro capture of the evening primrose. It’s truly a photographic masterpiece, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    April 6, 2020 at 9:16 AM

    • I’ve been known to say that the three most important things in photography are background, background, and background. This picture offers support for that claim.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 6, 2020 at 10:03 AM

  9. I may be anthropomorphizing, but the the two green leaves almost look like a couple of arms with tiny hands clasped together in a coy expression, as if actually posing for the photographer. Nice separation of foreground and background.


    April 6, 2020 at 11:16 AM

    • Some have conjectured that anthropomorphizing came about after the ability to recognize other animals, and especially people, developed as a survival mechanism way back in human evolution.

      Achieving good separation of subject from background is often a plus, as here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 6, 2020 at 1:01 PM

  10. I look forward to seeing primrose in bloom, Steve, but it will take a while here. Your image is lovely, and it’s nice that you had a little unexpected surprise with regard to the background. At times I’m amazed at what I see on the screen which was invisible when I took the photo.


    April 6, 2020 at 4:54 PM

    • For 180 years now photography has been making us aware of many things we would previously not have noticed. And of course photomicrography and other specialized techniques have let us look at things we never could have seen with our unaided eyes.

      Is the primrose you’re waiting for an actual primrose or an evening primrose?

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 6, 2020 at 5:03 PM

      • That’s a great question, Steve. Inspired by your photo, I was thinking of evening primrose, but we do have several species of primrose in Colorado as well. I won’t mind seeing either, but the evening primrose are among my favorite flowers.


        April 6, 2020 at 5:42 PM

  11. The background reminds me of photos of earth taken from space, with the curve of the planet set against the darkness, and the plant shining against both.

    Coincidentally, I found my first beach evening primroses (Oenothera drummondii) on Sunday, both blooming and fading, as well as some cut-leaf primrose (O. laciniata). It’s primrose season, for sure. They’re just beginning here (except for the pink evening primroses, which are everywhere) but it won’t be long until they thicken up.


    April 7, 2020 at 7:54 AM

    • I’m glad to hear the various evening primroses are doing their thing near you, as they are here. I’ve seen the beach evening primrose in books but never in nature. I expect we’ll see it in a post of yours before long. I spent time with some of the pinks two days ago, getting in close and trying to be artsy.

      I see what you mean about imagining the curvature of the earth as viewed from space. Now, if astronauts saw a giant evening primrose flower outside their spacecraft, that really would be something.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2020 at 10:18 AM

      • To the contrary! I not only remembered that you’ve seen a beach evening primrose, I know exactly where you found it — almost exactly where I found mine on Sunday.


        April 7, 2020 at 10:27 AM

        • Ah, the fallibility of memory! I forgot that that was the species in question. I stand corrected—and I wish I could stand on that beach again. Maybe someday…

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 7, 2020 at 10:32 AM

          • I can’t remember what day it is any more, but I remember the flowers. That may be better, in the long run.


            April 7, 2020 at 10:33 AM

  12. Beautiful from NZ too Steve! 👏


    April 13, 2020 at 1:59 PM

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