Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

White prickly poppy colonies

with 30 comments

On April 9th we drove an hour and a quarter west to the Willow City Loop, which people throng to in the spring to see vast colonies of bluebonnets. This turned out not to be an expansive year for them there (we found broad stands at Turkey Bend on the way home), but the white prickly poppies (Argemone albiflora) along the Willow City Loop were going gangbusters. Modest groups of bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) accompanied the prickly poppies in some places, as you see below.

* * * * * * * *

If you’re interested in learning about the ways in which increasingly many American schools are indoctrinating their students, you can read math teacher Paul Rossi’s recent testimonial that classical liberal Bari Weiss disseminated in her “Common Sense” column. As a longtime math teacher myself, I know “how rewarding it is to help young people explore the truth and beauty of mathematics.” That’s one reason I’m especially sensitive to untruths foisted off on students as being realities.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 21, 2021 at 4:33 AM

30 Responses

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  1. Cool. I never saw prickly poppies like that. Here they grow in a bush. Mathematics should still be safe to teach.

    Alessandra Chaves

    April 21, 2021 at 7:43 AM

    • These white prickly poppies are the only native poppies we have in Austin and much of the surrounding area. Though I normally see them individually or in small groups, the species has the ability to form large colonies, as shown here.

      As for mathematics being safe to teach, it held out longer than the liberal (now illiberal) arts.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 21, 2021 at 8:12 AM

      • (I had a phone call and wasn’t able to finish my comment.) Unfortunately even the teaching of mathematics is now getting infected with crazy dogma. It’s becoming increasingly common to hear—and for students to be told—ridiculous things, like the claim that objectivity and mathematics are tools of the “patriarchy” and “white supremacy.”

        Steve Schwartzman

        April 21, 2021 at 8:30 AM

      • Biology, not so safe to teach! Thank goodness I quit teaching! Many controversial subjects! Chromosomes, genetics, secondary sexual characteristics, natural selection….

        Alessandra Chaves

        April 21, 2021 at 9:09 AM

        • Yes, there are many more topical minefields in biology than in math. Who’d have believed our culture—I first wrote “civilization, but these things aren’t civilized—would so rapidly come to this?

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 21, 2021 at 9:39 AM

          • I don’t know how long it has taken to get to “this”. I know this is NOT the world I grew up in.

            Alessandra Chaves

            April 21, 2021 at 11:09 AM

            • Oh, if you knew how many times in the past year I’ve said that this is no longer the America I grew up in! In some ways the country has changed for the better, but in the accelerating push to suppress speech and due process we risk losing the ideal of freedom that has been a mainstay of this country.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 21, 2021 at 11:36 AM

  2. That second image is a stunner, Steve. The wildflowers leading to craggy trees in the background and dense woodland, is a path to heavenliness to me. Wild beauty.


    April 21, 2021 at 7:51 AM

    • I originally included only the first picture, my intent being to highlight the dense colony of white prickly poppies. After looking through the other photographs I took on the Willow City Loop, I came to value the interaction between these two kinds and colors of colony-forming wildflowers, so I added the second view. As you said, those craggy trees also added a lot to the view.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 21, 2021 at 9:27 AM

  3. It’s bound to happen from time to time, and this is one of those times. I posted photos of these poppies today, myself. You’re right that they were going gangbusters. When I’ve been there, I’ve sometimes seen them this dense, but only in the open fields at the north end of the loop; I’ve never seen them combined with bluebonnets. I’m so glad you were able to find them — and I’m so envious that it takes you only an hour-plus to get there!


    April 21, 2021 at 7:59 AM

    • It’s true in the opposite direction, too: you’re lucky to live so close to the coast, which for me is nearly four hours away. And as you pointed out, if you allow enough time and posts and common interests, sooner or later we were likely to feature the same species on the same day. You even had trees in the background in one of your photographs of white prickly poppies.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 21, 2021 at 9:33 AM

  4. If you did not have these awesome photos of the prickly poppy colonies to show that these massive flowery carpets are real I would not believe that they exist. Very impressive photos, Steve!

    Peter Klopp

    April 21, 2021 at 8:49 AM

    • Time to again bring up the idea that you’ll have to travel to Texas in some future spring to see our great wildflower displays. They do indeed exist.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 21, 2021 at 9:35 AM

      • Let Covid-19 disappear first. The travel restrictions are getting tighter from week to week. Non-essential travel is being discouraged here.

        Peter Klopp

        April 23, 2021 at 9:03 AM

        • Oh, I didn’t know that travel restrictions are tightening in your area. They seem to be loosening over here.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 23, 2021 at 11:54 AM

  5. […] Comments always are welcome. For more views of this flower in a different part of the state, visit Steve Schwartzman’s Portraits of Wildflowers. […]

  6. Almost looks like a blanket of snow!

    Eliza Waters

    April 21, 2021 at 12:37 PM

    • That’s the kind of white you’re more likely to see in Massachusetts, although we did get our unaccustomed coating of white in February.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 21, 2021 at 1:41 PM

  7. What a glorious sight. I sowed some white Prickly Poppy seeds yesterday! Argemone platyceras. I will be happy for a handful of plants, and can only dream of seeing such a field full of them. I read that teacher’s story and am shocked. I don’t know why it shocks me as so many awful things are going on right now. But I cannot turn a blind eye and feel so sorry for the future generations. Thank goodness you are no longer teaching Steve.


    April 21, 2021 at 1:42 PM

    • A glorious sight indeed: let’s hope your white prickly poppies do well. I looked up the species you planted and found it’s native to Mexico and Central America. The site at


      gives German names for it: breithorniger Stachelmohn and riesenblütiger Stachelmohn. It’s not clear to me what the wide or giant horn refers to on this “sting poppy.”

      Alas, situations like the one that the math teacher describes have become so common in the past year that I’m no longer shocked. Just last autumn I told my sister I could point her to a new transgression every day. In the half-year since then I could probably point her to several a day. Yes, I’m glad not to be working at a job but I’m immensely saddened by the downward turn the world is taking.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 21, 2021 at 2:12 PM

      • That is precisely where I bought the seeds! The company is in Regensburg, which also happens to be the nearest city to us. 😃


        April 23, 2021 at 2:57 AM

  8. Those fields of poppies and Bluebonnets are just beautiful!


    April 21, 2021 at 2:55 PM

  9. Wonderful poppy multitudes. I wonder if Dorothy would have fallen asleep there.

    Steve Gingold

    April 22, 2021 at 5:17 AM

  10. Prickly poppy is a new one for me. It looks beautiful, but I assume it lives up to its name?

    If only the Golden Rule could be taught in school. Simple, elegant and encompasses all, and yet the hardest to follow.

    Lavinia Ross

    April 22, 2021 at 9:36 AM

    • It sure does live up to its name, and many’s the time I’ve been jabbed by its sharp prickles.
      Ah yes, the Golden Rule. But then what would ideologues have left that they could prattle on about?

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2021 at 2:50 PM

  11. Wonderful field of flowers … prickly poppy sounds interesting Steve


    April 25, 2021 at 2:09 PM

    • Various species of prickly poppies exist, though we have only one in my area. The prickles are needle-like and have often enough gotten to my skin when I’ve taken close-up pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 25, 2021 at 2:59 PM

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