Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Dew-covered rain-lilies

with 53 comments

From September 25th in Springfield Park in southeast Austin, here’s a dew-covered rain-lily (Zephyranthes chlorosolen). The pink tinges in the white tepals’ tips at the top foretell the stage to come so soon; that magenta tale is brightly told below.

Today’s related quotation is in the form of a poem, “The Noble Nature,” by Ben Jonson.

It is not growing like a tree
In bulk, doth make man better be;
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere:
A lily of a day
Is fairer far in May,
Although it fall and die that night—
It was the plant and flower of Light.
In small proportions we just beauties see;
And in short measures life may perfect be.


© 2020 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 14, 2020 at 4:29 AM

53 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. This may be the first year I’ve seen rain lilies as vividly colored as your magenta one. I suspect it’s because so many were blooming at Brazoria after tropical storm Beta. Hundreds of flowers instead of dozens makes a difference; there’s more to choose from. The dew is especially lovely. It’s amazing that such a simple flower can be portrayed in so many ways.


    October 14, 2020 at 6:54 AM

    • You’ve seen plenty of my long-running attempts at portraying rain lilies. These two are probably the most dew-covered ever, and the color in the second one could be the most brightly magenta one ever. It’s good to hear that a silver lining to Beta for you was greater numbers of rain lilies than you’re accustomed to. Mine, in contrast, are better described as strays; no colony was there to count them as members. Perhaps some of your Beta-induced rain lilies will make an appearance in Lagniappe soon.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 14, 2020 at 7:43 AM

      • I’m afraid those rain lilies have gone to the great trash bin in the sky. For a variety of reasons, I wasn’t happy with any of the photos, and I’m no longer inclined toward posting photos-with-apologies-for-quality: unless there’s something unique that deserves documentation.


        October 14, 2020 at 7:48 AM

        • Understood. Unsuccessful photographic encounters happen. Your disinclination “toward posting photos-with-apologies-for-quality” sounds right.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 14, 2020 at 7:57 AM

  2. I like the simplicity of the B&W shot. The poem is interesting, too, although personally, I wouldn’t mind a 300 year lifespan. I guess you’d get used to having squirrels climb around in your hair all the time.

    Robert Parker

    October 14, 2020 at 7:15 AM

    • The first shot is actually in color, even if the traces of pink are faint. The overall effect, especially given the totally dark background, is the simplicity we associate with black and white. A 300-year lifespan might be okay if it didn’t come with the bodily decrepitude that normally comes to people who live even one century. On the other hand, could any tri-centenarians really know all their great great great … great grandchildren? Just imagine what a 300-year-old person’s will would look like.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 14, 2020 at 7:54 AM

      • Oh, now that I see the picture blown up on a laptop screen, I can see the subtle colors.
        I saw an article some time ago, where some scientist (“bio-futurologist”?) imagined what a human body would look like, if it was to last a couple of centuries. The result was not aesthetically pleasing – more like a Neanderthal, really massive backbone, not much of a neck.
        I’d make all the kids wear name tags, with their kinship spelled out.

        Robert Parker

        October 14, 2020 at 8:35 AM

        • Speaking of changes in the human body, yesterday on television I heard that “Scientists in Australia have discovered that people are undergoing a micro-evolution in which evolutionary changes can be observed over a short period of time. Dr Teghan Lucas, of Flinders University in Adelaide, said faces are becoming a lot shorter, with smaller jaws meaning there is less room for teeth.”


          Steve Schwartzman

          October 14, 2020 at 11:35 AM

          • Interesting! Faces and jaws may be getting shorter, but do you think there’s a countervailing trend, to larger and louder mouths? Just my non-scientific perception, I guess.

            Robert Parker

            October 14, 2020 at 1:52 PM

            • You’re funny, as usual. As I understand it, though, having smaller jaws seems to imply smaller mouths, as evidenced in babies being born without wisdom teeth.

              Steve Schwartzman

              October 14, 2020 at 6:20 PM

  3. Dew-covered rain lilies. You got me there. Bravo! (had difficulties signing in to WordPress to leave this comment earlier so if it is a duplicate, apologies). For a poem related to flowers, have you read Dylan Thomas’s “The force that through the green fuse” ?


    October 14, 2020 at 9:29 AM

    • Sure, that’s quite a famous poem from within our own lifetime.

      I don’t recall ever seeing rain lilies covered with dew like the ones I photographed that morning. My shoes and socks ended up soaked all the way through, but I gladly payed that price for the pictures I got.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 14, 2020 at 11:39 AM

  4. I love the symmetry of the dew-covered lilies. It definitely conveys one part of their beauty to me.

    Peter Klopp

    October 14, 2020 at 9:35 AM

    • Yes, rain-lilies are objects of geometry and symmetry, and those features are part of their charm.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 14, 2020 at 11:40 AM

  5. Jewels, both of them. I’ve been gone a while. I’ll try to come around more frequently.

    Michael Scandling

    October 14, 2020 at 11:03 AM

  6. And your beautiful photos exemplify ‘…plant and Flower of light.’


    October 14, 2020 at 11:55 AM

  7. You just confirmed that I’m a slow learner, Steve. Augustin Pyramis de Candolle thought of the term “tepal” in 1827, and it took me until 2020 to learn of it. If it weren’t for the pink hue, your first photo could be black-and-white.


    October 14, 2020 at 1:52 PM

  8. Both beautiful images! The first would work equally well in B&W although I do appreciate the subtle color.


    October 14, 2020 at 2:18 PM

    • Thanks. Black and white would still work, but I prefer not to lose those traces of pink in the tepal tips and the stem.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 14, 2020 at 5:25 PM

  9. Can’t believe how uniform those droplets are! Fabulous photos

    M.B. Henry

    October 14, 2020 at 4:27 PM

    • Yeah, I noticed that uniformity, too, and was thankful for how much that added to these portraits.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 14, 2020 at 5:26 PM

  10. That first image brings to mind a piece of exquisitely-crafted blown glass.


    October 14, 2020 at 4:28 PM

  11. I very much like the first with the subtle hue at the petal tips and the hint in the stem. The second is wonderfully and richly colored. And, of course, the dew makes everything better.

    Steve Gingold

    October 14, 2020 at 6:20 PM

  12. Nice set, Steve. Fresh and dewy!

    Eliza Waters

    October 14, 2020 at 7:43 PM

  13. Super dew covered lilies Steve .. such a delicate hint of pink in the first pic


    October 20, 2020 at 12:54 PM

    • That hint of pink is normal for rain lilies. The surprise is how that color quickly deepens and spreads as the flower lives out its brief existence, as you can see in the second picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 20, 2020 at 3:53 PM

  14. Lovely!


    November 1, 2020 at 2:23 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: