Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Germander, not gerrymander

with 18 comments

The first time this season that I saw a good colony of flowering American germander (Teucrium canadense) was way back on May 26th in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183, not long before some menacing lenticular clouds put an end to my picture-taking for the morning. The yellow-flowering colony bordering the germander there that day was a Coreopsis species. On July 2nd I found another American germander colony still going pretty strong along Fireoak Dr. in my neighborhood. Several of the flower stalks in that colony had a penchant for curving, like the one shown below. Notice how many buds were yet to open.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 13, 2020 at 4:40 AM

18 Responses

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  1. Your Texas flower posts have turned around my image of Texas, though there is still plenty of gerrymandering to go around.


    July 13, 2020 at 5:09 AM

    • Round, round, turn around, it turns around—your image of Texas of, that is. When I was growing up in New York I had no concept of all the wildflowers in Texas, either. Even in west Texas, which is drier and in some places a desert, wildflowers still can put on a show.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 13, 2020 at 6:46 AM

  2. these are so pretty and love your title, much better than gerrymandering


    July 13, 2020 at 6:20 AM

    • Pretty indeed, yet I get the impression people here are largely unaware of this species despite the fact that it tends to grow in colonies.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 13, 2020 at 6:52 AM

  3. This one’s been thick here this year, and quite widespread. It often grows in the same area as Teucrium cubense, the smaller, white coastal germander. I found this species near Palacios some years ago, and identified it by starting with the genus name of the coastal germander: probably the first time I identified a plant by beginning that way, rather than scrolling through images.

    Your photo of the colony is especially nice. The flowers I found this year already were farther down the road, and so messy I couldn’t manage a nice-looking photo. The single flower’s curve is familiar, too.


    July 13, 2020 at 7:11 AM

    • So we’ve both had a good year for American germander. I wasn’t aware of the smaller coastal germander with white flowers. With experience sometimes comes that ability you mentioned: to recognize that an unknown plant likely belongs in the same genus as something you know.

      I was happy to find two colonies growing in the same area, sometimes contiguous and sometimes partly interweaving. I know your feeling of coming on something when it’s no longer in its prime. If it’s really far gone and dried out it may offer photo possibilities, but an in-between state often lacks appeal.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 13, 2020 at 1:47 PM

  4. The germander is an interesting flower. Is it possible that it grows as far north as Canada? It seems to me that I have seen a similar plant in our neck of the woods.

    Peter Klopp

    July 13, 2020 at 8:32 AM

  5. Definitely snorted at your title! Good play on words! I grow coastal/Cuban germander and see it semi-often down here on the coastal plain. Would love to see this one sometime.


    July 13, 2020 at 9:24 AM

  6. Texas wildflowers are special. I remember reading about the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Texas. I bet you have been there!

    Also immortalized in Nanci Griffith’s song Gulf Coast Highway. “This is the only place on earth bluebonnets grow”

    Lavinia Ross

    July 13, 2020 at 11:24 AM

    • I’ve been carrying on about/with Texas wildflowers for two decades now, which is about how long I’ve been making occasional visits to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. For the last six years (maybe more) Eve and I have had a yearly membership. We would have visited there this spring but the virus intervened.

      Nancy Griffith’s song is open to a bit of quibbling or we could say it takes poetic license. Even if no other state calls its lupines bluebonnets, most other states do have one or more lupine species. I see from the USDA map that the best-known Texas species, Lupinus texensis also grows in Oklahoma and Louisiana, but I don’t know if they call them bluebonnets there. I suspect they do.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 13, 2020 at 2:08 PM

  7. Hmm, I will have to take a better look at a similar, if not the same, plant in a small patch near the slough in our pecan orchard. I didn’t take the time to photograph it last weekend (I was too busy heading home as the mosquitoes were eating me alive!!) so I’ll try to mosey over that way this week and look closer. Are these plants about 2 to 3 feet tall?


    July 14, 2020 at 7:17 AM

    • Yes, 2 to 3 feet tall sounds right. American germander is widely distributed in North America, growing in all 48 of the “lower” states and also much of southern Canada, so you may well have seen it. You can zoom in on Oklahoma in the USDA map to see if this species has been reported in your county:


      Steve Schwartzman

      July 14, 2020 at 7:37 AM

      • It has been reported in our county, and in wetlands regions which is what the pecan orchard area is zoned on the NRCS maps. I plan to go to the slough first thing in the morning while it’s halfway cool, and identify it for sure! Thank you for the information!!


        July 14, 2020 at 11:54 AM

        • It’s good that you’re not sloughing off the investigation. Let’s hope you find some germander tomorrow. Because you’re hundreds of miles north of here, germander may well still be flowering there.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 14, 2020 at 12:50 PM

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