Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Standing cypress out of season

with 33 comments

From May through June is when we normally expect the bright red flowers of Ipomopsis rubra, known as standing cypress and Texas plume. Yet there it was flowering away on October 23rd at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The purple in the background came from prairie verbena, Glandularia bipinnatifida, a species I see blooming here for much of the year.

And here’s a related quotation for today:

Life moves out of a red flare of dreams
Into a common light of common hours,
Until old age brings the red flare again.
—William Butler Yeats, The Land of Heart’s Desire, 1894.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 14, 2020 at 4:36 AM

33 Responses

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  1. Beautiful!

    beth

    November 14, 2020 at 5:58 AM

  2. Beautiful…a probable holiday card in the making, too.
    I have been going around quoting Yeats a lot to myself during this pandemic…his recurring yearning to reclaim a lost intensity by pure will of artistic creation seems fitting for the times.

    msllarchmont

    November 14, 2020 at 8:25 AM

    • I hadn’t thought about this picture for an upcoming holiday card; the colors would work, even if standing cypress is normally a wildflower of late spring here. I also didn’t know about Yeats’s yearning to reclaim a lost intensity by pure will of artistic creation. I can relate to that, whether in these times or normal ones.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 14, 2020 at 8:54 AM

  3. Wow–it really is out of season, but the card idea is a nice one. It’s a great shot, Steve.

    Tina

    November 14, 2020 at 9:48 AM

    • With two comments in a row, it seems I shouldn’t discard the card idea.

      I’ve seen several out-of-season native wildflowers recently. Yesterday it was an Engelmann daisy, and the day before that an Indian paintbrush. On October 23rd I saw a bluebonnet plant whose inflorescence was forming.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 14, 2020 at 10:05 AM

  4. What a colourful and cheerful image to view up here on a dreary November day!

    Peter Klopp

    November 14, 2020 at 10:06 AM

    • It’s good to hear this image sends some cheer your way. Down here in Austin we’ve got the overcast, too, but the afternoon high temperature is supposed to get close to 30°C. And of course we still have our share of wildflowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 14, 2020 at 10:19 AM

  5. That purple ‘spotlight’ is just precious!!!!

    marina kanavaki

    November 14, 2020 at 2:22 PM

  6. They are pretty – I’ll bet the hummingbirds love them

    norasphotos4u

    November 14, 2020 at 3:50 PM

  7. Rather lovely – looks very much like a fuchsia flower.

    Heyjude

    November 14, 2020 at 7:49 PM

    • I looked up pictures of fuchsia flowers and found that they hang down, which is one reason you saw a similarity. That’s not normally the case with standing cypress, though. Usually the plant lives up to its name and stands erect, but for some reason the stalk I photographed had fallen sideways. Here’s a more-typical view, with the flowers horizontally oriented:

      https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2019/07/04/another-july-4th/

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 14, 2020 at 9:16 PM

      • Ah, yes that does look very different. Such a vibrant red.

        Heyjude

        November 15, 2020 at 6:01 AM

        • Those vibrant red flowers are what standing cypress is known for. I gather that’s true for some fuchsias, too.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 15, 2020 at 6:29 AM

  8. There! That’s what purple and red lobelia would look like together. The combination of colors is beautiful. I enjoyed the seeds hanging in parallel with the flowers, too. I think those must be visitors, since the only photos I could find of the standing cypress seeds showed pods but no fluff.

    shoreacres

    November 15, 2020 at 7:20 AM

    • As soon as I noticed the verbena close by I knew it’d make a great contrasting glow behind one of the red flowers. The idea came more readily than the doing, but it was easy enough to throw away the failures. All it takes is one success. You’re right about the seeds being intruders; from what other plant, I don’t know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 15, 2020 at 7:39 AM

  9. I’m eagerly awaiting that second red flare.

    krikitarts

    November 16, 2020 at 12:26 AM

  10. A vibrant and stunning combination of colors, Steve. And a truly delightful quote.

    Jet Eliot

    November 18, 2020 at 3:08 PM

  11. Beautiful flowers, Steve, with the little seeds caught in the stalk and the verbena in the background. It always gladdens the heart to see flowers bloom out of season. I’m curious about this plant – in the wild, does it grow mainly in dry fields, or???

    bluebrightly

    November 20, 2020 at 11:21 AM

    • We’ve had a bunch of things blooming out of season recently. I expect to show some others in the weeks ahead. As for standing cypress, here’s what botanist Bill Carr says of it in Travis County (where Austin is): “Rare, mostly on disturbed roadsides or on occasionally mown roadside grassland patches; locally abundant along railroad tracks in the era of Young (1920). In recent years, this species has been widely seeded in restoration projects, making it difficult to assess its original “natural” status in the area.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 20, 2020 at 3:37 PM

      • Thanks, Steve, that’s interesting. Railroads often have great wildflowers, don’t they? At least they do here and in the NY metro area, but I guess the author is saying it used to found along railroad tracks, but not so much now. It’s good that they’re using it in restoration projects even it muddies the waters as far as natural occurrence goes.

        bluebrightly

        November 20, 2020 at 7:38 PM

        • I think I’ve seen standing cypress in the wild in only two places—and I don’t know if people sowed it there or it planted itself.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 20, 2020 at 8:59 PM

  12. They are very beautiful

    Athira

    November 21, 2020 at 8:08 AM

  13. ‘Cypress’ is still an odd name for them. It sure is a striking color though. I have seen it only in pictures.

    tonytomeo

    November 23, 2020 at 7:10 PM

    • I think the name has to do with the foliage. This species is also called Texas plume.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 23, 2020 at 9:02 PM

      • Yes, that is what I am told; although I know what a cypress looks like, and it it nothing like that.

        tonytomeo

        November 25, 2020 at 10:23 PM


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