Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Not parallel but parralena

with 33 comments

For all the yellow composite wildflowers that have appeared here over the past nine years, say hello to a little one with an unwieldy scientific name that’s making its debut today: Thymophylla pentachaeta var. puberula. Marshall Enquist’s book uses the common name parralena, and now I see online that other names are golden dyssodia, dogweed, and even the quaint fiveneedle pricklyleaf. Speaking of leaves, the ones on this plant have a resinous fragrance that I find pleasant. Botanist Bill Carr notes that this wildflower is “common in dry clay, marl, gravel or sand, often on compacted soils of roadsides.” Sure enough, the parralena flowers that I photographed on June 13th were growing on dry clay at the edge of Capital of Texas Highway. To give you a sense of scale, let me add that each flower head is about half an inch (13mm) across. Below is another parralena flower head that I noticed had nestled against an arc of dry grass, or the grass against it.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 19, 2020 at 4:21 AM

33 Responses

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  1. The last photo makes clear this flower is another that would make a fine piece of jewelry: this time, a necklace. It’s certainly pretty, and you’ve captured the details nicely.

    Puberula seemed so familiar. I see that it means ‘downy,’ but I couldn’t surface another plant with that specific epithet, other than Solidago puberula, the downy goldenrod. It looks as though the stems are stiff, which might be an advantage in ” dry clay, marl, gravel or sand [or the] compacted soils of roadsides.”


    July 19, 2020 at 5:46 AM

    • A necklace seems obvious now that you’ve suggested it; still, I didn’t think of it.
      A slightly different version of Latin puberulus (puberula in the feminine) has been carried over into English as puberulent. From the same root comes pubescent.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 19, 2020 at 8:34 AM

  2. That second image looks like a necklace I would definitely wear! What is the blurred background in the first shot? I love both of these images,


    July 19, 2020 at 8:12 AM

    • You and Linda (in the previous comment) could get together and split the cost of having someone design and make that necklace.

      The background in the first picture was earth and rocks by the side of the highway. At the bottom there seem to be some out-of-focus stalks of grass.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 19, 2020 at 8:53 AM

  3. Great shot of the threesome against the dark background, Steve! In the second photo, the dry grass appears to prop up the parralena flower.

    Peter Klopp

    July 19, 2020 at 8:17 AM

    • And, using a different prop, the dry grass arc served as a natural prop to enhance the flower head.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 19, 2020 at 10:55 AM

  4. Delightful images of these little flowers that are new to me.


    July 19, 2020 at 8:35 AM

    • I’m not surprised these flowers are new to you, given that they only grow down here. I’d seen parralena a few times before but the current pictures came out a lot better than any previous ones I’d taken.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 19, 2020 at 11:29 AM

      • Yes. Every once in awhile I am made aware of a plant here I didn’t know about and that is always exciting. My main source for that though is my friend Joyce and I’m afraid her field days are suddenly behind her.


        July 20, 2020 at 8:20 AM

        • Sounds like you’ll have no chance to rejoice with Joyce.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 20, 2020 at 8:37 AM

          • I’m afraid so. She turned 80 last August, and it was like a timer went off in her inner coils. One day I could barely keep up with her, the next she was at full stop. I am alarmed, I must admit.


            July 20, 2020 at 8:44 AM

            • Age catches up with us all. So far I’m still out there chugging away for the sake of my portraits from nature.

              Steve Schwartzman

              July 20, 2020 at 9:01 AM

              • As the Dead would say, Keep on truckin’!


                July 21, 2020 at 9:18 AM

  5. The second one is lovely. They’re cheerful little blooms.


    July 19, 2020 at 9:15 AM

  6. Thanks for the introduction. Small as they are, you make them stars.

    Michael Scandling

    July 19, 2020 at 11:08 AM

  7. Sweet little thing! I’m not familiar with it; thanks for the introduction!


    July 19, 2020 at 12:23 PM

    • You’re welcome. Two years in a row I’ve found it on the west side of Loop 360 just north of Champion Grandview Way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 19, 2020 at 12:32 PM

  8. ‘Fiveneedle pricklyleaf’ is a marvelous name for a very pretty flower. I wish all plant names were as good!

    Ann Mackay

    July 19, 2020 at 3:57 PM

    • Go for it: you can propose new common names for various species and hope some of them catch on.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 19, 2020 at 4:02 PM

      • That would be fun, hehe!

        Ann Mackay

        July 19, 2020 at 4:55 PM

  9. Second one is a necklace right?! 😉

    marina kanavaki

    July 20, 2020 at 7:31 AM

  10. I like the diagonal composition and dark, earthy background on the first image. The pano dimensions on the second adds to the fun.


    July 20, 2020 at 11:05 AM

    • The diagonal composition called out to me, too, along with the Rembrandtian background that was actually the earth by the side of the highway. For a long time I’ve enjoyed cropping to make an elongated frame when it accords with the subject.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 20, 2020 at 3:51 PM

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