Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

An unobstructed view of a pickerelweed colony in bloom

with 55 comments

The previous post teased you by allowing only a faraway glimpse of a flowering pickerelweed colony through a thick frame of giant bulrushes. Today’s post parts the veil and zooms you across the water to see those plants as they looked on May 19th when they brightened the edge of a Blackland Prairie pond in far northeast Austin. For a closeup of a Pontederia cordata flower spike, you can check out a 2015 post from the same location.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 29, 2020 at 4:37 AM

55 Responses

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  1. A lovely sight! 🙂

    Ann Mackay

    May 29, 2020 at 5:53 AM

    • That’s what I felt. This came near the end of the session, as the best groups of flowers turned out to be on the side opposite where I started.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2020 at 5:58 AM

  2. Oh, my. I’ve never seen a sight like that, and I think I’ve discovered the reason. Pickerelweed is a freshwater plant. We have plenty of salt or brackish water in the places I visit, but we’re a little short on freshwater ponds. Armand Bayou’s pond is fresh; so is the pond behind the Brazoria visitor center. I need to revisit the places where I’ve found water lilies, and take a second look. As a matter of fact, a second look at your photo reveals water lily pads floating between the pickerelweed and the reflections from the other bank.

    The photo’s gorgeous. I especially like the blue/purple combination, and the varying width of the horizontal bands. The ripples are a nice touch. I don’t think perfectly smooth water would have added as much to the image.


    May 29, 2020 at 6:59 AM

    • I like your “Oh, my.” This pickerelweed colony was quite a site indeed, perhaps the best I’ve ever seen. You seem to be onto something with the notion that brackish water would suppress these plants. Good luck with Armand Bayou and Brazoria. Like you, I noticed the few lily pads in this picture; whether they ever produced flowers, I don’t know. I’d originally chosen a different view of the colony for this post, one that I like because it’s more panoramic. On the other hand, its vantage point is from a little lower down and lacks the blue water, which as you pointed out makes a nice two-tone with the purple flowers. So I swapped out the first one for this one; they were otherwise too similar to include both.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2020 at 7:21 AM

  3. Man, I wish my pickerel weed looked like that! Gorgeous shot!!


    May 29, 2020 at 7:42 AM

    • If you’d like to see this pickerelweed colony, the pond is behind all the buildings at 710 W. Howard Ln. There’s convenient parking in the back within sight of the pond.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2020 at 11:37 AM

  4. The way you captured the image it appears to me that the pickerelweed plants are standing in the water. Great shot, Steve!

    Peter Klopp

    May 29, 2020 at 8:10 AM

    • Yes, these plants thrive in wet ground right at the edge of a body of water and also in shallow water .

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2020 at 11:40 AM

  5. Beautiful picture.


    May 29, 2020 at 8:14 AM

  6. Looking forward to ours by enjoying yours. Wish we weren’t so far behind when looking at where you are.

    Steve Gingold

    May 29, 2020 at 1:15 PM

    • Ah, so you’ve got pickerelweed up there, too. As you know, I’ve been showing wildflowers here since the end of January.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2020 at 4:22 PM

      • Yes, we do. I shared one here a while back which you saw then. And…as an addendum, I misidentified the last image. Not a waterwillow but blue curls. As well, the pond is named Owens Pond which I have posted images from for years now. Maybe the map I originally looked at was wrong.

        Steve Gingold

        May 29, 2020 at 4:33 PM

  7. Pretty – it looks a little like lavender


    May 29, 2020 at 8:43 PM

  8. Beautiful view!! Are these considered blue or no?


    May 30, 2020 at 6:55 AM

    • Plenty of flowers with “blue” in their name—for example blue curls, bluebonnets, bluebells—look purple or violet to my eyes and brain. People’s color perception varies a lot. In addition, languages assign color words differently when dividing up the spectrum of visible light, putting the boundaries between colors in different places. What English calls “blue,” Russian splits into two mutually exclusive kinds of blue, with a different word for each. I see pickerelweed flowers as purple. The previous commenter saw a similarity to lavender. Experience leads me to expect that some of the people who see this photograph will say the flowers are blue.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 30, 2020 at 7:23 AM

      • It’s funny that so many purple flowers are called blue. These look purple to me too but I wondered. I looked them up and one page I read called them blue-purple.😄


        May 30, 2020 at 8:48 PM

        • Blue-purple is a happy compromise. As languages get more sophisticated they add more color words. Blue is a more basic color word than purple, and it originally covered hues that words like violet and purple more precisely designate.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 30, 2020 at 9:22 PM

  9. What a gorgeous colony of them! You gave me my smile for the day with this one.


    May 30, 2020 at 9:14 AM

    • This may be the best stand of them I’ve ever seen. Happy smile of the day.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 30, 2020 at 9:35 AM

      • Same here. Makes me want to wade out to see the ones I know of here but as it is 50 degrees today, I think I’ll hold off.


        May 31, 2020 at 8:36 AM

        • We won’t see 50° again in Austin till October.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 31, 2020 at 8:58 AM

          • I’m enjoying it, believe me!


            June 1, 2020 at 8:48 AM

            • So would people here, where afternoon highs are now moving into the 90s.

              Steve Schwartzman

              June 1, 2020 at 8:52 AM

              • I think we will see 90’s later this week.


                June 1, 2020 at 8:53 AM

                • Then this will be one of those times we occasionally see when you’re as hot as we are.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  June 1, 2020 at 12:06 PM

                • I’m planning to make like a lizard, and do not much of anything today.


                  June 2, 2020 at 8:15 AM

                • Not me. I was out taking a slew of pictures this morning before things heat up.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  June 2, 2020 at 11:44 AM

                • I figured that would be the case. I’m parked in front of a window with a breeze coming in but I’ve been out for a walk and worked in the studio. It is supposed to be cooler later this week and I’m planning a trip to Illinois Beach State Park. Some of the roads around there have been closed because of the rioting, though, so I don’t know if I’ll get through.


                  June 2, 2020 at 2:10 PM

                • I’m sorry to hear the rioting reached up your way.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  June 2, 2020 at 2:24 PM

                • I’m sorry to say that intolerance is really gaining a foothold here. I’m marching in my first protest today….hope I live to tell the tale!


                  June 4, 2020 at 7:50 AM

                • You have good reason to be cautious. As has been evident for over a week now, and throughout history, some “protesters” are as tyrannical as the tyranny they claim to be protesting. Be careful.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  June 4, 2020 at 7:57 AM

                • Thanks, Steve. I had my plans for escape in place if things turned ugly but happily, it truly was a peaceful demonstration. Very quiet. Tons of people showed up to support the HS kids who had arranged it, and I was more proud of my community than I’ve been in awhile.


                  June 5, 2020 at 8:17 AM

                • I’m glad and relieved to hear it turned out well.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  June 5, 2020 at 8:18 AM

                • Thank you! I was relieved too.


                  June 5, 2020 at 8:46 AM

                • Remember, too, that all the medical authorities still recommend social distancing—advice that demonstrators ignore at their own peril.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  June 4, 2020 at 8:52 AM

                • We all wore masks and maintained distance from each other. You’re right~it is chilling to remember that the virus was likely marching along with us.


                  June 5, 2020 at 8:15 AM

                • Good for all of you for taking precautions.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  June 5, 2020 at 8:17 AM

  10. Oh my! This is like water hyacinth, which is one of the most invasive weeds in California now. It is pretty, but too risky for us to put into our riparian situations.


    May 31, 2020 at 10:59 PM

    • Pickerelweed, in addition to being native, is not invasive: it stays at the edge of a body of water and minds its own business. In contrast, water hyacinth is alien and highly invasive. I’ve seen it cover the surface of a pond. That’s a pretty sight but it smothers the pond. States like Florida spend millions of dollars to remove it from choked watercourses. In Texas, transporting or even possessing water hyacinth is illegal.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 1, 2020 at 6:29 AM

      • Illegal?! Wow. I suppose it should be if it is that bad. It is not illegal here, but it has gotten into so many places that it probably does not matter anymore. However, I have never seen it in local rivers.


        June 3, 2020 at 7:09 PM

  11. Lovely Steve! One observation on pickerelweed is that I’ve noticed it does not like city lakes. There are ample gardens with lakes in South Florida, but I always see it in very small numbers. I think these plants sense what the ‘real thing’ is. That is, they know the difference between real lakes and ‘man-made’ lakes or reservoirs. Florida is full of them, and pickerelweed knows it! In order to see them at their best, one better go to Central Florida or Everglades.


    June 1, 2020 at 9:14 AM

    • Texas has almost no natural lakes (the glaciers didn’t make it this far south). I’d say the pond at which this pickerelweed colony was growing is semi-natural. The water is held in check by an embankment, yet some of the surrounding area is low-lying and seems prone to be damp or wet, though of course nothing like the Everglades. Perhaps an intermittent creek was dammed to make the pond.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 1, 2020 at 12:05 PM

      • For some reason I have not seen them colonizing the landscape here as in this picture. I know why. They’re USDA Zone: 3 to 10. The mainland Florida is divided into USDA zones 8 through 10. South Florida is roughly zone 10. So pickerelweed may bloom but not to its fullest potential, unless one goes further north. In Central Florida a full colony will be seen, in zone 9b


        June 1, 2020 at 4:14 PM

  12. Love it when they’re blooming all over our wetlands ponds!

    Birder's Journey

    June 25, 2020 at 8:56 PM

  13. […] If you’d like a reminder of how glorious a whole colony of these flowers can look, you’re welcome to look back at a post from May of last year. […]

  14. […] sunflower, Helianthus annuus. Some fruits from my photographic harvest the first time appeared here and […]

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