Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for November 13th, 2020

A new place for Maximilian sunflowers

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On October 19th, while driving home from Central Market along W. 45th St., I glimpsed a stand of Maximilian sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) on the west bank of Shoal Creek. Never having noticed any of those sunflowers there in other years, I went back the next morning to see what I could do with them. Getting in there wasn’t easy, but I scampered over rocks and pushed my way through a jungle of giant ragweed that had sprung up in the mostly dry creek bed. Then I struggled up the rough slope to get to the sunflowers. The first picture shows some of them beneath a line of paloverde saplings (Parkinsonia aculeata) that had spring up at the edge of the embankment.

Maximilian sunflowers often stand tall. They often lean, too, as in the second picture. It’s also not unusual to see a stalk that has bent so far over that it ended up with its flowers near or even on the ground. That’s what you see in the third photograph. Notice the narrowleaf sumpweed (Iva angustifolia), which had formed a carpet across the plateau atop the creek’s bank, along with some asters. The sunflower stalk’s sinuosity and the redness of its lower portion got my attention.

Below you get a better look at how colorful a Maximilian sunflower stalk sometimes is.

As of today there are still some Maximilian sunflowers brightening up central Texas.  

And here’s a relevant quotation: “My heart found its home long ago in the beauty, mystery, order and disorder of the flowering earth.” — Claudia Alta Taylor Johnson (known as Lady Bird), in a letter in Native Plants magazine, Fall 2002 issue.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 13, 2020 at 4:33 AM

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