Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

White where you’d expect purple

with 21 comments

I’ve observed that purple wildflowers sometimes have natural white variants. When I stopped along FM 2769 in far northwest Austin on September 15th to photograph some purple flower spikes of Liatris punctata, known as gayfeather and blazing-star, I noticed that one plant had white flowers, probably the first I’d ever found in this species. The stamens, however, were purple.

And here’s a thought for today: “A house is no home unless it contain food and fire for the mind as well as for the body.” — Margaret Fuller Ossoli.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 4, 2020 at 4:46 AM

21 Responses

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  1. Contrary to what I used to think, white variants aren’t truly rare, but I’ve never seen one that combines colors in this way. It’s pretty as can be, and those purple stamens are knockouts. It might be even more attractive than a pure white one would have been.


    October 4, 2020 at 6:43 AM

    • That combination of white and purple made this doubly special for me, too. As you say, white variants of purple flowers aren’t truly rare, yet I don’t recall seeing a white one of this species till that day.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2020 at 7:06 AM

  2. Really beautiful. I like your play with the focus here especially.


    October 4, 2020 at 6:55 AM

    • With limited depth of field, I focused on the white of the frontmost flowers, which was the unusual feature.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2020 at 8:42 AM

  3. interesting observation –


    October 4, 2020 at 7:54 AM

  4. How beautiful! The background flowers are nicely rendered, with those vivid stamens.


    October 4, 2020 at 9:00 PM

    • I agree about those backlit purple stamens. I was fortunate to find this one distinctive plant.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2020 at 9:05 PM

  5. Great find of an unusual white colour in a flower that is supposed to be purple! A very rare invention by mother Nature!

    Peter Klopp

    October 4, 2020 at 10:05 PM

    • To the best of my recollection, this is the only white-flowering plant of this species I’ve seen±and a welcome sight it was.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 5, 2020 at 6:30 AM

  6. Blue flowers tend to have white variants too. I think that white variants of purple flowers tend to be blushed or pinkish. Jacarandas have white variants. I do not know if they are normally blue or purple. They look blue to me. I am told they are purple.


    October 4, 2020 at 11:44 PM

    • The makeup of my eyes and brain usually puts me on the purple side of the blue~purple divide. Two famous Texas wildflowers, the bluebell and the bluebonnet, normally look purple to me and therefore don’t fit their common name.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 5, 2020 at 6:33 AM

      • Perhaps you should wear less makeup. To me, those two are some of the bluest of blues. Bluebonnet looks as blue as the sky lupine here, but a bit darker.


        October 7, 2020 at 9:01 PM

  7. A slight (ok, a rather heavy) variation on your theme: A gayfeather is still gay, even if its stamen assumes a different hue from its petals, as long as it has water and sunshine to nourish it.


    October 5, 2020 at 8:30 PM

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