Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Taking the long view

with 29 comments

2020 has been a good year for Mexican hats (Ratibida columnifera) and an even better one for my portraits of them, of which there have been more than in any previous year. As is true for every physical feature of an organism, the length of the column of disk flowers in Mexican hats varies, and in today’s picture I’ve focused on one that’s in the running for the longest I’ve ever come across. Notice the two pale green insect eggs, each attached on a thread-like stalk to the column; I presume they came from green lacewings. The rich purple beyond the Mexican hat is due to horsemints (Monarda citriodora), while the shades of blue come from patches of sky that I was able to squeeze in by getting close to the ground and aiming slightly upward. I made this portrait along Bluffstone Drive in front of the Junior League of Austin on May 29th.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 15, 2020 at 4:39 AM

29 Responses

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  1. Ah, those colors!!!!!! 🙂

    marina kanavaki

    July 15, 2020 at 4:41 AM

  2. It’s a celebration of colors, and those two eggs are amazing! Great detail, and texture on the Mexican Hat.


    July 15, 2020 at 7:41 AM

    • There was no way I wasn’t going to celebrate those colors. I took lots of pictures and showed four, three the last time and one more now. This one adds those two tiny insect eggs, which I may or may not have noticed at the time I took the picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 15, 2020 at 8:27 AM

  3. The right perspective as in this Mexican hat photo is the beginning of outstanding photography. Sometimes people who observe us may question our sanity but the reward comes with the result.

    Peter Klopp

    July 15, 2020 at 7:59 AM

    • I can’t say that any observer has questioned my sanity. If so, none has said so. What the occasional person seeing me lying on the ground has asked is: “Are you all right?” or “Do you need help?”

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 15, 2020 at 8:30 AM

      • I’ve had folks ask me the same things, and I have been known to answer the second question with a partial affirmative, e.g., “Don’t really need any, but could use a helping hand to stand up again, thanks.” And, yes, that rich purple is really striking.


        July 15, 2020 at 4:57 PM

  4. This is a visual feast, one I will be long savoring.


    July 15, 2020 at 8:29 AM

  5. Now that’s really an unusually long one. Reminds me of an ear of corn.


    July 15, 2020 at 9:48 AM

  6. It’s a good thing I’ve had your Mexican hat photos to enjoy this year. The beautiful patch of it in the orchard was just a few plants this year. I hope they return in the future.


    July 15, 2020 at 3:35 PM

    • I guess you didn’t have many Mexican hats this year because they all came down here. I’ll tell some of ours to go back to you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 15, 2020 at 3:42 PM

  7. On a recent pass through Gonzales County, I took some photos of a cow and calf in a particularly pretty pasture. When I enlarged them last night, there was a large patch of Mexican hats right in front of the cow. Because they weren’t blooming when I passed by, I didn’t notice them at the time, but the more I looked at the photos, the more I saw. At peak flowering, it would have been as lush as some of the scenes you’ve portrayed.

    The combination of the little patches of white fluff and what appears to be a few missing rows of disk florets suggests more insect activity. Whether it would have been the lacewings or something else I can’t say, but it certainly adds interest to the photo.


    July 16, 2020 at 6:53 AM

    • Your phrase “a cow and calf” made me think “a cow and a half.” As for the past-flowering Mexican hats you saw in Gonzales County, we had the same reaction here yesterday when we drove around some more after I showed Eve the pond and fountains I’d discovered the previous day. As we drove out of a large commercial property we noticed a dense group of Mexican hat seed heads on each side of the exit, and I wished I’d been aware of them while they were still freshly flowering. Oh well, at least I saw plenty in other places this year.

      When it comes to the patches of missing florets you pointed out, I don’t know how much of that is due to insects and how much to drying and weathering in their own right.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 16, 2020 at 7:30 AM

  8. Tall enough, or long, to be a Mexican Top Hat.

    Steve Gingold

    July 22, 2020 at 3:14 AM

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