Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

National Prairie Day for 2021

with 34 comments

Today is National Prairie Day. Unfortunately almost all of America’s prairies have been plowed, ranched, or built on. The picture above from May 10, 2020, shows that I could still see wildflowers covering a piece of the Blackland Prairie on Meister Place in southern Round Rock. Basket-flowers (Plectocephalus americanus) played a main role in that view. The numerous yellow flowers farther back are known as sundrops or square-bud primroses (Oenothera capillifolia). The white flowers in the distance were prairie bishop (Bifora americana). Below is a view from a different vantage point in which the square-bud primroses and prairie bishop predominated; the mostly red flowers were firewheels (Gaillardia pulchella).

This spring, three days short of one year later, I returned to the site and found that construction had claimed most of it. No great colonies of wildflowers were to be seen.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 5, 2021 at 4:41 AM

34 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. How disappointing to find such a wild beauty suddenly gone. Humans seem to destroy everything in their path and call it progression. Your images are lovely. A beautiful memory of what once was.


    June 5, 2021 at 6:33 AM

    • This was one of two sites about a third of a mile apart that I looked forward to visiting each spring, primarily for the colonies of basket-flowers, but I always found plenty of other species there as well. The other property became a construction site last spring, so in a period of just a year I lost two of my best places for wildflowers. At least I have lots of photographs to show people how beautiful these places once were.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 5, 2021 at 6:53 AM

      • It’s tragic that these wonderful places have been destroyed – we lose more than we realise when that happens. It makes any remaining areas all the more precious.

        Ann Mackay

        June 6, 2021 at 4:29 AM

        • Sadly, I’ve been experiencing that continuing—and recently accelerated—loss for two decades now.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 6, 2021 at 6:11 AM

          • That must be disheartening. I’ve only known the landscape here for a relatively short time, so didn’t know the ‘before’.

            Ann Mackay

            June 7, 2021 at 4:42 AM

            • Yes, sometimes it is disheartening. I’ve often wished I could see the real “before” here, say two centuries ago or farther back.

              Steve Schwartzman

              June 7, 2021 at 4:57 AM

  2. Those fields are gorgeous. I hope what’s left will be saved to last for generations more.


    June 5, 2021 at 8:29 AM

  3. here’s to the beautiful prairies of the world


    June 5, 2021 at 8:36 AM

  4. “They were sweet
    when I pressed them
    and retained
    something of their sweetness
    a long time.” from Asphodel, That Greeny Flower, WC Williams


    June 5, 2021 at 9:53 AM

  5. It’s fun to see basketflowers spreading across the land in this way. Most of the time, I see them in ditches or in small groups along fencelines. I suspect pre-development they might have spread in just this way.

    Last weekend, I stopped by the little parcel of land I’ve so often bemoaned, and discovered something interesting. While access is still blocked, and mowing has been happening, there’s perhaps 2/3 of the land that’s grown up in grasses; clearly, the new owner has decided not to scalp everything. If it ever stops raining, I’m going to go down to the fish camp that edges the property and see if I can get the name of the owner. It might be worth talking to him, to see if he intends to let some of the land lay fallow.

    The slender piece of land along the county road there still is unmowed. My fingers are crossed; that’s where I found the Maximilian sunflowers last year.


    June 5, 2021 at 2:14 PM

    • Good luck with Maximilian wildflowers coming up again on that strip of land. Over here I’ve seen my share of those plants springing up, some in groups that formed shapely mounds, even as their flowers aren’t due for several months yet. And likewise if you track down the owner of the parcel near you, I hope you’ll find him sympathetic to nature.

      As for basket-flowers, I’ll still be able to see them individually or in modest groups here, but I’d relied on the two recently lost sites for dense spreads of basket-flowers. I hope I can still find some colonies on preserved land.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 5, 2021 at 3:17 PM

  6. Steve, is this what the prairies looked like, pre-sodbusters?

    Robert Parker

    June 5, 2021 at 2:14 PM

    • Yes! If this little piece could look as good as it did in 2020 with a highway and an apartment complex and commercial buildings flanking it, just imagine what the unbroken prairie must have looked with dense colonies of wildflowers like this one stretching for vast distances.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 5, 2021 at 3:06 PM

  7. I may have mentioned an old “futuristic” movie from years back, Silent Running. Prescient might be a better word although pessimistic. Sometimes we humans have our priorities mixed up.

    Steve Gingold

    June 5, 2021 at 2:18 PM

    • The movie sounds familiar, even though I’ve never seen it, so perhaps you did mention it. Just this morning I found that a small site in my neighborhood where I’ve photographed cowpen daisies and other wildflowers for several years has been covered over with earth removed from construction across the street. I hope wildflowers will recolonize the area.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 5, 2021 at 3:24 PM

      • Good luck with that. Builders gotta build so it’ll probably get developed too.

        Steve Gingold

        June 5, 2021 at 3:35 PM

        • A bunch of houses got built downhill from that plot, but I’m hopeful it’ll be left alone again. We’ll see.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 5, 2021 at 7:33 PM

  8. I am glad you were able to capture these last images of that bit of prairie, its last year of glory.

    Lavinia Ross

    June 5, 2021 at 5:31 PM

    • So am I. When I stopped by there this spring I spoke to the guy I think was the construction boss that day, and I told him how wildflowers had covered that lot the year before. He said he knew because he’d seen it that way himself in 2020, I assume when the site was being scoped out in preparation for construction.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 5, 2021 at 7:43 PM

  9. Not sure how you keep finding these beautiful flower fields … NICE!


    June 5, 2021 at 5:53 PM

    • That’s how nature in central Texas is, i.e. covered with fields of wildflowers, when the land is left to its own devices for a while. A lot of the properties where I’ve taken pictures had been idle for a decade or two as land prices kept rising. Presumably when the owners could finally get the price they wanted, they sold to developers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 5, 2021 at 7:47 PM

  10. Happy national prairie day, Steve! It is good that you have still some spaces left in Texas where you can enjoy viewing the prairie flowers.

    Peter Klopp

    June 5, 2021 at 7:51 PM

  11. Shame … I’m saddened to think of the loss of such beauty. We have such a knack of destroying things don’t we.


    June 9, 2021 at 1:37 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: