Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

An unusual pink evening primrose bud

with 37 comments

I’ve long been intrigued by the buds of pink evening primrose, Oenothera speciosa, especially as they open. Usually they’re pretty straight, but this one at the Riata Trace Pond on April 5th attracted me all the more because of its curved tip. People have told me that the little green insect, which I’m not sure I even noticed at the time, is an aphid nymph.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 23, 2020 at 4:38 PM

37 Responses

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  1. Beautiful.


    April 23, 2020 at 4:45 PM

  2. It looks like a magnolia close up like this.
    This species happens to be native here, or almost here. I do not see it around here, but I do remember it from when I was in school in San Luis Obispo, and in Monterey, although it might have been naturalized in Monterey.


    April 23, 2020 at 6:21 PM

    • You’ve surprised me. I’m so used to thinking of pink evening primroses as a native Texas wildflower that I didn’t realize the species spreads from coast to coast:


      Whether pink evening primroses occur as frequently and with the density in all those other places as they do in Texas, I don’t know. Species range maps indicate only occurrence, not how common a species is. Maybe someday botanists will indicate that on maps, too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2020 at 9:15 AM

      • The bloom looks just like it does in your older pictures, but the individual plants are more sparsely arranged, and are seen mostly on steep canyon hillsides rather than gently sloped meadows. I do not know if that is natural for them, or more of a recent development with the proliferation of exotic species that occupy meadows. California poppies used to be very abundant on meadows, but do not get pollinated like they used to (because their pollinators are distracted by so many other exotic flowers), and do not compete well with exotic vegetation. The same probably applies to the now uncommon sky lupine.


        April 24, 2020 at 6:23 PM

        • Now it’s coming back to me. I believe you did mention the occurrence of pink evening primroses on steep slopes in California. That may well preclude the large colonies we often get on (mostly) level land here in Texas.

          Yes, various natives have declined due to competition from introduced species. That came up today in a comment and linked article about a Cuban brown anole lizard that’s making things harder for the native green anoles.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 24, 2020 at 6:40 PM

          • I really miss the poppies that were so profuse when I was a kid. They were not as profuse as they were decades earlier, but there much more profuse than they are now. They survive well out in drier regions and the deserts. Sky lupine was still doing well in some places when I was in school in the 1980s, but is rare in profusion nowadays.


            April 24, 2020 at 6:48 PM

  3. I wonder if something damaged the tip, holding it closed while the rest of the bud attempt to open. If the image were to be rotated 90 degrees to the right, it would suggest any number of things: a Venetian gondola; an Indian slipper; a handled dish for sweets. I almost can see it trying to open; it’s the little flower that could.


    April 23, 2020 at 8:54 PM

    • I understand why you thought of damage, given the brown tip. My conjecture was something internal because the whole right side of the bud is curved, and the curvature gradually increases toward the distal end. I wish I knew the progression of an opening bud in this species; perhaps the tip normally opens after a side splits open. In the pareidolia department, I can imagine the Indian slipper and the Venetian gondola.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2020 at 9:31 AM

  4. Great macro floral composition, Steve! I must be losing my 20-20 vision, as I cannot see the aphid nymph.

    Peter Klopp

    April 23, 2020 at 10:12 PM

    • If you follow down to the lowest trace of pink on the left side, that’s where the nymph is. Take another look and I’ll bet you see it now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2020 at 9:33 AM

  5. Gorgeous shot, Steve.


    April 23, 2020 at 11:24 PM

  6. It looks like it’s bowing a respectful greeting to something or someone to your left. And what a nice little bonus bug!


    April 24, 2020 at 1:49 AM

  7. Nature presents some strange yet beautiful plants 😊


    April 24, 2020 at 3:50 AM

  8. Elegance.

    Michael Scandling

    April 24, 2020 at 3:57 AM

  9. Oddities make the world more interesting. That little nymph is probably tucked away hoping no hungry lady beetle sees it.

    Steve Gingold

    April 26, 2020 at 3:38 AM

  10. That nymph is hiding well! A beautiful photo, Steve, and it serves to remind us that differences are the norm.


    April 26, 2020 at 6:02 PM

    • Hiding so well I don’t believe I saw it at the time. This was yet another in the unending sequence of hidden things later revealed on a computer screen.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 26, 2020 at 9:01 PM

  11. I really enjoy the contrast and reveal of the pink. Beautiful. I saw the bug too and thought about your accidental selfie, I guess in this case you got photo-bombed! 😉


    April 28, 2020 at 6:55 PM

    • I like your phrase “the contrast and reveal of the pink.” The flower is so cleverly rolled up inside the bud. Good of you to remember my recent unintentional selfie and to contrast it with the photo-bombing insect nymph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 28, 2020 at 7:29 PM

  12. I really like how this photo shows the furled petals tucked up in their protective covering.


    May 26, 2020 at 8:17 AM

    • I, too, liked this specimen because the opening in the sheath lets us glimpse the arrangement of the petals inside.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 26, 2020 at 9:19 AM

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