Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 39 comments

Okay, it’s April Fool’s Day, and maybe the title fooled you into thinking this post has something to do with international politics. It doesn’t. Etymologically-minded me took neocolonialism literally, with neo meaning ‘new’ and colonial meaning ‘having to do with a colony.’ Today’s picture from March 29th shows the first new extensive colony of dense bluebonnets, Lupinus texensis, that we found this spring. (You’ll recall that the sustained sub-freezing spell in February delayed the appearance of many wildflowers). And by a happy coincidence these dense bluebonnets were doing their colonizing in the tiny town of Dubina, which had been the first Czech colony in Texas, about 75 miles southeast of Austin. Painting this bluebonnet colony with scattered daubs of red are Indian paintbrushes, Castilleja indivisa.

It’s not that I hadn’t been seeing individual bluebonnets and small groups of them for several weeks. I had. For example, on March 19th in Gonzales I’d photographed a fledgling (can a flower fledge?) bluebonnet that might better be called a fuzzbonnet. That time the red came from a phlox flower.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 1, 2021 at 4:29 AM

39 Responses

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  1. This field of bluebonnets is an amazing sight, no kidding.

    Robert Parker

    April 1, 2021 at 5:21 AM

    • Just your run-of-the-mill ordinary fantastic spectacular Texas bluebonnets—or more appropriately just your run-of-the-field ordinary fantastic spectacular Texas bluebonnets. That prompted me to look up the origin of run-of-the-mill, and in the Online Etymology Dictionary I found this: “1909 in a literal sense, in reference to material yielded by a mill, etc., before sorting for quality (compare common run ‘usual, ordinary type,’ from 1712). Figurative use is from 1922.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 1, 2021 at 5:35 AM

      • Whereas, consider the lilies of the field…they toil not, neither do they spin…so wherewithal shall we be clothed?

        Robert Parker

        April 1, 2021 at 6:35 AM

        • Speaking of clothes and spinning, within a twelve-month span several years ago our washer and dryer both stopped toiling and we had to replace them.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 1, 2021 at 6:41 AM

          • My parents are still using the ones they bought when they got married. My dad, very not-mechanically-inclined, looks at YouTube repair videos and tinkers with them and keeps them going. The last time the washer broke, he replaced the “agitator dogs,” isn’t that a great name? Like “let slip the dogs of war.” They slipped, broke, started grinding like an army tank was in the closet.

            Robert Parker

            April 1, 2021 at 6:48 AM

            • Kudos to your father for keeping those machines running so long, and for learning how to deal with agitator dogs. The kinds of agitators I wish I knew how to deal with are the ones who spin up mobs into violence.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 1, 2021 at 6:56 AM

  2. What a wonderful field of Bluebonnets!


    April 1, 2021 at 7:46 AM

    • Have you seen anything comparable near Fredericksburg?

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 1, 2021 at 7:50 AM

      • I read a March 26 post on the Wildseed Farms site that said they were just beginning to appear in their fields, and they were estimating a couple of weeks before they started showing off. That would be next weekend.


        April 2, 2021 at 7:52 AM

        • And yesterday I saw a current photograph from the Willow City Loop that looked rather pitiful.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 2, 2021 at 8:19 AM

          • From my comment section: “We drove US 90 from Hondo to Uvalde yesterday and the bluebonnets were starting to show. The drought was particularly bad down there and I’m hoping it didn’t set them back too much. I hope we see more in a few weeks.”


            April 2, 2021 at 8:39 AM

            • Let’s hope so. I’ve already found this good colony, so I’m not focused on bluebonnets. Still, I wouldn’t turn down the chance for another large colony.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 2, 2021 at 8:44 AM

              • Likewise. I’m heading down the coast this weekend, to Palacios and Rockport. I’d love to find some huisache — haven’t seen a bit this year. Depending on what I find, I may have time to visit the Aransas Wildlife Refuge, too. I haven’t been there in years.


                April 2, 2021 at 8:53 AM

                • The large huisache in our neighborhood has looked bedraggled ever since the ice storm. I’ve seen it flower as late as April, but I’ve also seen huisache trees produce no blossoms at all in some years. If I see any huisache blooms today I’ll let you know.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 2, 2021 at 9:10 AM

                • We drove almost 300 miles and didn’t see a single flowering huisache tree.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 2, 2021 at 5:46 PM

                • Well, I guess I’d better look for some Weesatche, then!


                  April 2, 2021 at 5:50 PM

  3. I am going to have to get out this weekend and find the fields of bluebonnets.

    Jason Frels

    April 1, 2021 at 8:03 AM

  4. The field of Bluebonnets is gorgeous!


    April 1, 2021 at 8:05 AM

  5. I just marvelled at Linda’s photos of those amazing Texan flower carpets. And now I marvel some more looking at yours, Steve! Happy Easter!

    Peter Klopp

    April 1, 2021 at 11:31 AM

    • We didn’t collude on our bluebonnet posts; it was a convenient coincidence. We were each fortunate to find a good colony of these wildflowers.

      Did you know that Easter in Old English referred to a goddess of fertility and spring? The name apparently comes from the word east, so that Easter presumably started out as a goddess of the dawn, which of course happens in the east.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 1, 2021 at 1:11 PM

      • … and the ancient preference for procreation spawned the idea of the Easter bunny and Easter eggs.

        Peter Klopp

        April 1, 2021 at 6:16 PM

  6. Prachtig dat eerste beeld !


    April 1, 2021 at 2:34 PM

    • Thanks. From English and the one year of German that I took in college I recognized the last three of your four words. The context led me to assume that prachtig must mean ‘beautiful, great, wonderful,’ or something similar, and when I looked up the word I found my intuition was correct. Now, going the other way, I’ve learned that the German cognate is prächtig. The root seems to be a cognate of English bright.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 1, 2021 at 3:08 PM

  7. What a beautiful field of bluebonnets! The town of Dubina has an interesting history.

    Lavinia Ross

    April 1, 2021 at 11:56 PM

    • This was the first really good stand of bluebonnets we found for 2021, so we were happy. It’s not unusual in Texas to see bluebonnet colonies that big. As for Dubina, I can’t recall if I’d even heard of the place. I recognized that the name is probably Czech, because I knew of other Czech settlements in the area. Once I looked up the history, I found out Dubina was the very first of them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 2, 2021 at 6:39 AM

  8. I really like your idea of fuzzbonnet—it fits so well.


    April 2, 2021 at 5:03 AM

    • For maybe a week I had the second picture scheduled in a post of its own with the title “Fuzzbonnet.” So much has been happening florally, though, that scheduling was pushing posts farther and farther out. That’s why I decided to consolidate and add the fuzzbonnet picture to this other bluebonnet post.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 2, 2021 at 6:43 AM

  9. Did you happen to travel the Piano Bridge road west of Dubina? I’ve been there a couple of times, but never posted about it. I need to do that. I found quite a colony of the endemic Texas Tauschia there, and I’m hoping for more this year. Another Czech community is Praha, south of I-10 but west of Dubina. One of the towns I think you visited in 2019 is Cestohowa: not Czech, but Silesian Polish. Texas certainly is far more than Germans!

    “Fuzzbonnet” is a great name! I can’t think of anything better than futzing around with fuzzbonnets!


    April 2, 2021 at 8:06 AM

    • Oh — there’s a town named New Colony in Texas. It’s on US 59 in Cass County, a little southwest of Texarkana.


      April 2, 2021 at 8:10 AM

    • Yes. The country road leading away from behind the church had a sign saying there was an unstable bridge 0.6 miles ahead. I drove to it to Czech it out. From the looks of it, our car could probably have crossed it with no danger. Still, being cautious, I parked and walked over to see if I noticed anything I wanted to photograph: I didn’t. I guess it’s not yet time for Texas tauschia. We’re probably going to drive down TX 123 today, though I expect to turn off before Cestohowa. As for non-Germans in Texas, the first central European group I became aware of years ago was the Wends, whose museum we passed the turnoff for on our way back from La Grange the other day. And yes, futzing around with fuzzbonnets is something I’ve engaged in more than once.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 2, 2021 at 8:29 AM

  10. I don’t have any experience with bluebonnets and did not know they were in the lupine family. I know Texas is the place for them. Nice shots!


    April 5, 2021 at 12:23 PM

    • Now you’ve made me wonder whether people outside Texas apply the name bluebonnet to any of their lupine species. If not, then Texas is uniquely the place to see bluebonnets. I also don’t know whether any of the species outside Texas form such large and dense displays.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 5, 2021 at 2:33 PM

      • I have seen bluebonnets in Virginia. Not as profuse as your photo shows. I know a lot of photographers go to Texas to shoot them.


        April 5, 2021 at 2:55 PM

        • It well may be that Lupinus texensis forms the largest and densest colonies of the many Lupinus\ species in the country.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 5, 2021 at 3:26 PM

  11. […] Above, from our first 2021 visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on March 25th comes a bluebonnet displaying a purple as richly saturated as I think I’ve ever seen in Lupinus texensis. No extra charge for the tiny green nymph of a katydid or grasshopper. And below are two white bluebonnets scattered in the large colony we saw in Dubina on March 29th. […]

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