Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

First good sunflower for 2020

with 51 comments

I saw the my first really nice sunflower (Helianthus annuus) for 2020
when I visited the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on May 7th.
It was a welcome early arrival for this species.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 22, 2020 at 4:21 AM

51 Responses

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  1. Lovely rich colour in green, gold and blue. What a contrast!

    Ms. Liz

    May 22, 2020 at 4:45 AM

    • It also made a contrast with the adjacent new subdivision, which I had to get low and aim high to avoid showing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 22, 2020 at 7:08 AM

  2. It is indeed welcome, always very cheerful-looking.

    Robert Parker

    May 22, 2020 at 6:14 AM

  3. Great!!!!

    Sent from my iPhone



    May 22, 2020 at 6:17 AM

  4. I’ve been seeing these for some time, but mine are characterized more by their persistence than by their beauty. In the midst of the road-widening and bridge-building and general chaos along TX146 — a route I travel every day — there are piles of dirt galore, and atop many of them there are stands of these sunflowers. I’ve read that they like disturbed ground; we certainly have it in abundance for them.

    I’ve never noticed how the purple and green of the buds is a feature of the stems, as well. It’s great that you were able to capture that so clearly, as well as the pretty flower.


    May 22, 2020 at 7:08 AM

    • I remember the construction on TX 146 from our visit last fall. I also remember reading a similar statement 20 years ago about sunflowers liking disturbed ground. The road where I think I first saw that borne out back then was Greenlawn Blvd. on the Austin–Round Rock border. Construction had created piles of earth alongside the road, and sure enough, sunflower plants were conspicuously growing on them. Also usually conspicuous is the coloration you noticed on this sunflower’s coarse stalks. The purple is typically mottled with pale green. When I’ve been able to get a clear shot, I’ve sometimes done a closeup of the stalk in its own right.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 22, 2020 at 7:19 AM

    • By the way, speaking of plants springing up on disturbed ground, there’s the word ruderal. Some dictionary definitions are: ‘growing where the natural vegetational cover has been disturbed by humans,’ ‘growing on waste ground or among refuse,’ ‘colonizing or thriving in areas that have been disturbed, as by fire or cultivation.’

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 22, 2020 at 8:14 AM

  5. That’s a perfect one! We’re seeing them here and I think they’ll be nearing the end of their cycle soon making way for something else.


    May 22, 2020 at 8:00 AM

    • Perfect indeed, which is why it drew me to photograph it. Somehow I don’t think of the common sunflower in Nevada, yet I see from the USDA distribution map that the species grows all across North America. If yours are nearing the end of their cycle, are are just getting strong now, with the peak season usually extending into June. Stray plants can be found flowering here even through the fall.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 22, 2020 at 8:28 AM

  6. Your sunflower looks great against the background of the blue sky. We won’t see any of our sunflowers here until late summer.

    Peter Klopp

    May 22, 2020 at 8:02 AM

    • Bright blue surrounding yellow indeed can thrill a fellow.

      Your northern latitude and cold climate explain the late season for sunflowers up there. The peak in Austin typically occurs in June.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 22, 2020 at 8:31 AM

  7. Is it sunflower time already? The cactus are still finishing up.

    Jason Frels

    May 22, 2020 at 9:09 AM

    • Yes, I’ve been seeing more and more sunflowers these past few weeks as I’ve driven around in north Austin, Pflugerville, and southern Round Rock.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 22, 2020 at 11:00 AM

  8. A superb specimen. Hard to believe the last time I saw such a beautiful sunflower was in Switzerland last July. A lot has happened since then…

    Michael Scandling

    May 22, 2020 at 9:43 AM

    • Yes, a lot has happened. I’d planned to take a couple of trips before the weather got too hot. Instead, I’ve gone around a lot locally, mostly within 20 miles of home.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 22, 2020 at 11:04 AM

  9. How can one not be cheered by this gorgeous Sunflower!?! I can never look at one without a smile coming to my face, then again a Dandelion has the same effect. This photograph would also be so beautiful printed, framed and hung on a wall for an instant burst of happiness! Thank-you so much for the smile!


    May 22, 2020 at 11:10 AM

    • You’re welcome for the sunflower smile. Yes, these are great native plants, and I always look forward to sunflowers here in May. The peak in Austin is typically June, so chances are good I’ll be making (and perhaps posting) more sunflower portraits in the days ahead.

      I haven’t photographed common dandelions, not because they’re not worthy in their own right, but because they’re alien invasives in Austin (and all the rest of North America). I’m not sure where you are, but Texas has several native species that are in the same botanical tribe as dandelions:


      Steve Schwartzman

      May 22, 2020 at 12:40 PM

  10. Is there a bad sunflower? 🙂 That is a great shot, though!


    May 22, 2020 at 12:04 PM

    • There’s not a bad sunflower in my book. This one in particular wanted to have its portrait made, and I obliged. What you can’t see is the trouble I had to go through to wangle myself into a place where I could get this stately view.

      In Austin we’re fortunate that along with the common sunflower we have a few other native species, most notably the Maximilian in the fall.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 22, 2020 at 12:45 PM

  11. I really like your turn of phrase that this one wanted to have its portrait made. I have that feeling fairly frequently with some of my subjects, and I love it when that happens!


    May 22, 2020 at 3:36 PM

    • I’ll grant you it’s a convenient projection of our will onto our subjects, most of which don’t have a will in the human sense of the word. It’s a somewhat different form of anthropomorphism—or, since a flower is the subject here, anthomorphism.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 22, 2020 at 3:54 PM

  12. It’s a nice one! Your blooms are way ahead of ours!


    May 22, 2020 at 5:02 PM

    • We shouldn’t be surprised about the timing, given the differences in our altitudes and latitudes. Sunflowers here normally reach their peak in June but individual plants can be found flowering through the fall and once in a while even in December.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 22, 2020 at 5:23 PM

  13. Beautiful!!


    May 23, 2020 at 7:37 PM

  14. Gorgeous!

    Wandering Cranes

    May 24, 2020 at 3:37 AM

  15. That is a good one and a very nice complementary subject with the blue sky.

    Steve Gingold

    May 24, 2020 at 6:52 PM

  16. Agreed! It is a really nice sunflower! They are such cheerful flowers ..


    May 26, 2020 at 2:59 PM

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