Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A warty Mexican hat

with 20 comments

Occasionally the central column in a Mexican hat flower head (Ratibida columnifera) gets warty-looking. That was the case with this one I found in Great Hills Park on May 18th. Because the Mexican hat grew near some dead Ashe juniper branches (Juniperus ashei) on the ground, I was able to get their rich harmonizing brown around the flower head, while a broad aperture of f/3.5 kept the background completely free of details.

For something different, check out how photographic illustrator Josh Dykgraaf combines many small photographs of plants and landscapes to create pictures of animals.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 26, 2021 at 4:35 AM

20 Responses

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  1. Very special !


    May 26, 2021 at 5:51 AM

    • I like your enthusiasm. As many times as I’ve photographed Mexican hats, this was a new way of portraying one.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 26, 2021 at 6:35 AM

  2. Alas, poor Warty — I knew him well! Actually, I don’t know this phenomenon, well or otherwise; I’ve never seen a Mexican hat misshapen in this way. It does make a good visual metaphor for a few projects I’ve had turn out that way when I misinterpreted the instructions.


    May 26, 2021 at 7:37 AM

    • You’re funny this morning, both in the Shakespearean reference and your allusion to projects gone awry. I assume you also know that the “well” was never in that line from Hamlet, which is now more often misquoted than quoted well. What causes the occasional wartiness in Mexican hat columns, I don’t know. I’m guessing it’s a virus or fungus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 26, 2021 at 7:44 AM

  3. It’s still quite pretty warts and all. 😀


    May 26, 2021 at 7:57 AM

  4. I like the graceful shape of the petals with their delicate yellow rim. Is the ‘wart’ a sign of a disease? Just wondering.

    Peter Klopp

    May 26, 2021 at 8:15 AM

    • In this species the ray florets vary a lot. Some are all yellow, others all brown, and many have a mixture of the two colors, as here. As for what causes the “warts,” I’m guessing a virus or fungus but I don’t actually know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 26, 2021 at 8:30 AM

  5. Do you know what causes that appearance?

    Steve Gingold

    May 26, 2021 at 3:45 PM

  6. Are the warts a sign of disease, Steve? Will the plant be able to survive and propagate properly despite the warts?
    Mr. Dykgraaf’s creations are stunning.


    May 26, 2021 at 4:36 PM

  7. I like it .. warts and all!

    Ms. Liz

    May 26, 2021 at 9:53 PM

  8. Steve, I myself was at the GH Park (higher elevation entrance) and recorded (subsequently uploaded) a swath of Mexican hats from May 23, along with other Mexican hats at the empty parking lot I’ve mentioned to you in the past. Those two colonies reliably pop up every year, and are still going strong. Have also spotted other colonies during walks, occasional clutches at front yards. Seems the February deep freeze didn’t harm their resurgences.


    May 27, 2021 at 7:48 AM

    • My observation matches yours: based on what I’ve seen while driving around Austin, this has been a good spring for Mexican hats. Last year I spent a bunch of time with the colony at the Sierra Nevada entrance and have been thinking about checking it out again soon before the flowers fade. The picture in this post came from inside the park but I spent most of my Mexican hat time that day with the group at the Floral Park entrance.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 27, 2021 at 7:59 AM

  9. looks interesting!

    Ann Mackay

    May 29, 2021 at 2:52 PM

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