Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Fringed puccoon flowers

with 46 comments

On March 11th, in hopes of finding some fringed puccoon (Lithospermum incisum) in bloom, we headed to the Upper Bull Creek Greenbelt Trail, where I’d photographed some of those flowers around this time in past years—and find some I did. Given the low light and my not wanting to introduce the harshness of flash, in these pictures I went for a limited-focus approach (f/3.5 and f/3.2, respectively.) Do you agree that crinkled puccoon would be a better name for these wildflowers than fringed puccoon?

And here’s an unrelated thought for today: “Rien n’imprime si vivement quelque chose à notre souvenance que le désir de l’oublier.” “Nothing imprints a thing as vividly in our memory as the desire to forget it.” — Michel de Montaigne.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 18, 2021 at 4:29 AM

46 Responses

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  1. Aye, matey. That’s a mighty fine flower to be named for pirates. Yes, crinkled would be a good addition to the name.

    Steve Gingold

    March 18, 2021 at 5:25 AM

    • Pirate-deprived me is missing the connection to piracy. I searched, and though not finding one, I came across a blog that echoes your comment by saying that hoary puccoon, a different species, “would make a great pirate name (okay, not a botanical fact, but fun).”

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 18, 2021 at 6:24 AM

      • It’s a less than complimentary term for a sailor/pirate. It should show up on Google. I’m familiar with the hoary name.

        Steve Gingold

        March 18, 2021 at 7:34 AM

        • I’ve searched and can’t find a pirate or sailing reference, either. I’ve never heard it; I wonder if it’s a geographically-limited term? It does rhyme with ‘doubloon,’ though, and pirates certainly were fond of those.


          March 18, 2021 at 7:46 AM

          • That’s a good rhyming connection. “Pirate” itself doesn’t seem to have any rhymes in English. When W.S. Gilbert created the libretto for The Pirates of Penzance, he confronted that fact and wrote this:

            When Frederic was a little lad
            He proved so brave and daring,
            His father thought he’d ‘prentice him
            To some career seafaring.
            I was, alas! his nurserymaid,
            And so it fell to my lot
            To take and bind the promising boy
            Apprentice to a pilot…

            I was a stupid nurserymaid,
            On breakers always steering,
            And I did not catch the word aright,
            Through being hard of hearing;
            Mistaking my instructions,
            Which within my brain did gyrate,
            I took and bound this promising boy
            Apprentice to a pirate.

            Steve Schwartzman

            March 18, 2021 at 8:05 AM

            • Welllll….in what some of my friends describe as “typical Steve”, the word I was thinking of has nothing to do with pirates but a coward is also known as a poltroon. My bad and sorry I caused you both to chase something that doesn’t exist.

              Steve Gingold

              March 18, 2021 at 9:07 AM

              • “Poltroon” is an old-fashioned word that gets little used these days.

                I suspect many people chase after things that don’t exist. What’s worse, some people end up believing in things that don’t exist.

                Steve Schwartzman

                March 18, 2021 at 10:17 AM

                • Sadly, yes, people do believe in things that don’t exist, especially if they support their belief of things that are not true.

                  Steve Gingold

                  March 19, 2021 at 3:12 AM

                • I’ve observed that presenting facts to a person seldom makes any difference; it may even make the person cling all the more to a mistaken belief.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  March 19, 2021 at 6:32 AM

              • LOL, I’m imagining lots of frustrating searches for the connection between this flower and pirates! And having a giggle as I imagine the effect of yelling ‘You puccoon!’ after someone…thanks for making my day more fun! (And I agree about the crinkled bit.)

                Ann Mackay

                March 18, 2021 at 3:14 PM

        • My mind’s tangents are calling up similar things like dubloons. BTW, what a fantastic, fringed flower. Sometimes I think you are inventing these, rather than just discovering their whereabouts.


          March 20, 2021 at 1:38 AM

          • Ah, if only I had the imagination to invent a flower like the fringed puccoon. These mentions of the doubloon had me wondering what it was the double of: turns out the Spanish doblón was originally worth twice as much as the gold pistole.

            Steve Schwartzman

            March 20, 2021 at 4:44 AM

  2. The yellow of the fringed puccoon flowers looks great against the dark background.

    Peter Klopp

    March 18, 2021 at 7:32 AM

    • In processing the photographs I took a dark approach for the reason you said, to make the yellow flowers stand out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 18, 2021 at 7:35 AM

  3. This is one of those flowers I searched for after seeing it here. It’s certainly one of my favorites. I’ve found it north of Schulenberg, just outside Palacios, and on the road to the monument in Cost. When I checked the dates for those discoveries, I found March 8, 9, and 21. Methinks it’s time to hit the road. I think the freeze affected my time sense. It’s clearly later in the spring than it feels.

    It’s interesting how the darker tone gave the flowers a bit of a green tint. It’s unusual, and quite attractive.


    March 18, 2021 at 7:50 AM

    • My March 11th date in Austin coincides pretty well with the March 8th and 9th you listed for your puccoon finds. The freeze seems not to have delayed this species, even if it froze your time sense. Fortunately you still have time to blossom.

      I just checked and confirmed that even with the default settings in Adobe Camera Raw there’s a bit of green on the puccoon flowers. My processing doesn’t seem to have changed that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 18, 2021 at 8:15 AM

  4. Realy nice shots!


    March 18, 2021 at 8:14 AM

  5. Very cute flower! I never saw one! Sure trying to forget is a way to remember. And despite the fact that Neurolinguistics teaches us that the word “no” is not processed by our brain as we think it is, “say no to” … (add here drugs, sex, crime, whatever ) is still widely used to try to convince people to avoid things that they are trying to forget … and all it does is to remind them.

    Alessandra Chaves

    March 18, 2021 at 8:26 AM

    • I like your follow-up from neurolinguistics. It reminds me of the old routine of saying to someone “Don’t think about an elephant,” which of course guarantees the person will think of an elephant. As for fringed puccoon, I don’t mind thinking about it at all.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 18, 2021 at 10:04 AM

  6. Lovely photos! The flower in profile is especially nice, the clear ruffles paired with the veiled stem and background–fetching!


    March 18, 2021 at 8:52 AM

    • Thanks. While I’ve photographed our local puccoon in most recent years (though not 2020), I don’t remember previously making a portrait from the side, like the second one here. It’s always good to have a different take, as long as it works well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 18, 2021 at 10:07 AM

  7. Poignant quote, I’ve read his works over and over. Sarah Bakewell’s book, How To Live, is powerful.


    March 18, 2021 at 9:35 AM

    • Hi, Sally. I’ve been wondering how you’re doing, as you haven’t posted since the fall. Thanks for your tip about Bakewell’s biography of Montaigne.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 18, 2021 at 10:10 AM

  8. Such a truly lovely and unusual flower, Steve.

    Jet Eliot

    March 18, 2021 at 10:15 AM

    • I wasn’t aware of a flower like this till I got interested in local native plants, of which this turned out to be one. While it’s not among our most common wildflowers, it’s not uncommon, either.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 18, 2021 at 10:19 AM

  9. I think fringed crinkled puccoon would be best – as the plant is excessive, so should be the name.


    March 18, 2021 at 1:18 PM

  10. I am caught up now. “Crinkled” might be better, but does not have the same appeal as “fringed”. I’ll go for “fringed”. 🙂

    Lavinia Ross

    March 18, 2021 at 7:26 PM

    • I’m the one who may be on the fringe with my preference for crinkled.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 18, 2021 at 10:15 PM

      • Crinkled has more of an auditory association for me.

        Lavinia Ross

        March 19, 2021 at 4:36 PM

        • I easily imagine the sound of paper or foil crinkling, so I understand your auditory association, yet I focused entirely on the visual component of crinkling when I thought about these flowers.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 19, 2021 at 5:25 PM

  11. Excellent images – I’d love to see this flower. Pirate’s lace puccoon?


    March 18, 2021 at 8:22 PM

  12. What a beautiful flower! And the quote made me chuckle, so true.

    Eliza Waters

    March 18, 2021 at 9:06 PM

  13. No matter what the name, that’s a very pretty blossom!


    March 18, 2021 at 9:40 PM

  14. The low light photographs are exquisite. These are precious wee flowers! Yes, crinkled!


    March 19, 2021 at 8:11 AM

    • I’ll take exquisite, thanks. Precious is fine, too. And you’re one more vote for crinkled.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 19, 2021 at 8:14 AM

  15. Stunning blooms .. top shots Steve!


    March 26, 2021 at 2:54 PM

  16. […] dialectal version of a Virginia Algonquian term. In fact it’s the same word that has given us puccoon. That’s the true explanation; I’m not selling you a pig in a poke, which is yet a third […]

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