Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Thryallis Thursday

with 35 comments

Galphimia angustifolia, a member of the botanical family Malpighiaceae, is a slender little native plant I seldom come across. After I saw a stand of it near the Upper Bull Creek Greenbelt Trail on June 13th I went back the next morning to take photographic advantage of my find. Vernacular names for this species are thryallis (apparently a Greek word meaning ‘wick’) and narrowleaf goldshower. Notice how the flowers express a fiveness, with the petals starting out very slender and abruptly widening farther out. Each flower is red, orange, or yellow, and sometimes all three kinds appear on the same plant. Flower diameter is no more than 3/8 of an inch (9mm), so this picture is much larger than life.

On the technical side, I used a ring flash and chose a shutter speed of 1/400 and an aperture of f/20 for good depth of field. That small an aperture also rendered the bright sky a dark blue.

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Yesterday I linked to the testimony of Xi Van Fleet, a woman who managed to escape the terror of the Chinese Communist regime, only to find years later that her school district in northern Virginia has been indoctrinating its students. I also recently learned about Yeonmi Park, who had a harrowing escape from North Korea in 2007 at the age of 13. After making her way to America, she eventually enrolled at Columbia University, my alma mater (alas), where she had a reaction similar to Xi Van Fleet’s. You can hear Yeonmi Park’s story in an online article that includes a video.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 17, 2021 at 4:33 AM

35 Responses

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  1. On the street goldshower means something a bit different from this. Those are quite unique flowers and, of course, stand out against that Schwartzman sky.

    I disagree that teaching critical race theory is anti-American. It recognizes past errors in judgment and behavior and teaches to avoid that in the future. Otherwise it gets swept under the rug.These things happened. Self-loathing is not the goal. Better behavior in the future is. There is still plenty of -isms in this country and the world. Saying it is all in the past allows it to fester and make people’s lives more difficult than need be.

    Steve Gingold

    June 17, 2021 at 6:00 AM

    • Please check the reply I just left to a comment you made yesterday on a previous post, which deals with some of what you’ve said here. My objection to critical race theory is that it obsesses about the negatives, downplays or omits many of the positives, and perpetuates the very thing we want to eliminate: discrimination. Here’s what Ibram X. Kendi, one of the main figures in critical race theory, believes: “The only remedy to racist discrimination is anti-racist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.” It sounds like George Wallace in his inauguration address calling for “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 17, 2021 at 6:44 AM

      • Let me add something interesting. One of my own obsessions is quoting people accurately. I wanted to make sure I got the Kendi quotation right, so I went to Google, which is my usual search engine, and used the search string “kendi discrimination quote.” Not one of Google’s hits on its first couple of pages included that quotation (I didn’t check further). I tried variations on my search string, and still Google wouldn’t bring up the quotation. Eventually I thought of trying a different search engine. I went to Microsoft’s Bing, put in my original search string “kendi discrimination quote,” and the very first hit that Bing gave me included the quotation.

        I’ve read accounts of researchers who’ve found evidence that Google sometimes skews its results to make a favored thing more prominent or a disfavored thing less prominent. My experience just now seems to be one more piece of evidence to support that. It seemed Google didn’t want people to see that Kendi advocates discrimination.

        Steve Schwartzman

        June 17, 2021 at 7:01 AM

        • I love your photo Steve! I appreciate how Steve G. has worded his thoughts on the matter; he’s expressed what’s on my mind better than I could so I’ll just say “ditto”. When Blacks have been treated as the lowest class of American citizen for so long, and denied much in the way of opportunity and privilege over hundreds of years, how can this be put right without confession of the great injustices done to them and then work with them to restructure the systems that have denied them opportunity. Is this really so terribly difficult? From what I’ve read Voting Rights, Policing & Prison system, Education and Housing are all big things that need to be urgently addressed.

          Ms. Liz

          June 17, 2021 at 8:11 AM

          • To my mind, the most important thing is education. As a group, blacks consistently score at the bottom in academic achievement. And yet “progressive” policies in the education system keep them at the bottom. Every attempt to raise educational standards and hold students accountable for those standards has been met with accusations of racism. The real racism is maintaining a system in which many (probably most) black students are handed a high school diploma even when they haven’t mastered elementary school arithmetic, can read in only a perfunctory way, can’t write a decent English paragraph, and know very little of history or geography or science. The people who maintain a stranglehold on education ought to be in prison for all the harm they’ve inflicted and keep inflicting.

            Steve Schwartzman

            June 17, 2021 at 8:36 AM

        • I would say that just because one individual, high up as he may be, says something divisive it does not necessarily mean all participants feel that way or teach that way. You mentioned to Liz that conservatives support all people yet we know that several ultra right groups who consider themselves conservative do not share that feeling. Does that mean that no conservatives do or conversely that all conservatives share those groups values? Of course not. As we have both agreed there are extremes in both camps and the solution will not lie with either but with those of us in the middle trying to work together.

          Steve Gingold

          June 17, 2021 at 4:20 PM

          • I don’t think of ultra-right factions as conservative, but I take your point. Similarly, I feel that people on the far left have forfeited any claim to be considered liberal.

            Steve Schwartzman

            June 17, 2021 at 5:20 PM

  2. That is one unusual plant, yet I find it strikingly beautiful. The shape of the leaves and colors make me think of the word whimsy.


    June 17, 2021 at 6:52 AM

  3. Gorgeous photo, Steve. Love the orange against the blue background, green stem connecting. Nice!


    June 17, 2021 at 8:08 AM

    • Thanks. I was really happy when I noticed the thryallis colony the other day. Your mention of the colors reminds me that the police cars in Nassau County, where I grew up on Long Island, used to be two-tone orange and blue. Were you familiar with thryallis?

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 17, 2021 at 8:40 AM

      • Yes, but I’ve seen the non-native (Galphimia glauca) much more often. I think I even bought a native thyrallis from one of the LBJWC’s plants sale a decade-plus years ago. It didn’t make it, but more likely due to my own ineptitude, rather than any quality of the plant.


        June 17, 2021 at 4:53 PM

        • In looking up the latest scientific name for the native species, which used to be Thryallis angustifolia, I came across references to Galphimia glauca, which I’d not heard of before. I also see now that people are making anti-allergenic claims for an extract made from the non-native species.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 17, 2021 at 5:26 PM

  4. A remarkable feat of nature to produce different-coloured flowers on the same stem!

    Peter Klopp

    June 17, 2021 at 8:32 AM

  5. Wow that is certainly one vivid & vibrant little flower.

    Robert Parker

    June 17, 2021 at 8:42 AM

    • It is. I meant to mention that this is the first appearance of that species here. I just replied to Peter’s comment with a picture showing two consecutive thryallis flowers of different colors.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 17, 2021 at 8:57 AM

  6. The fiery orange on blue is quite striking! I’ve caught up again, and so much enjoy the tour of wildflowers, waterfalls and nature.

    This year I found a new wildflower here at the edge of the small boggy wooded area. Closest I can find online to it yellow Monkey Flower, some kind of Mimulus. It is tall though, roughly 2.5 to 3 feet high. It is the first year I have seen one here, and there is a small patch of them. I suppose seeds could have been lifted and traveled on winds from last year’s fires.

    Lavinia Ross

    June 17, 2021 at 10:08 AM

    • Happy monkey flower to you, however it made its way into your woods. It’s a kind of flower I’ve read about but can’t remember if I’ve ever seen one in person.

      And yes, orange on blue is a great combination.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 17, 2021 at 10:49 AM

  7. This new-to-me flower is beautiful, Steve. Common names don’t always hit the mark, but in this instance narrowleaf goldshower does.
    I wonder how much of a challenge it would be for you to come up with an alliterative flower name for each day of the week. 🙂


    June 17, 2021 at 9:09 PM

    • You may be onto something: there probably are enough native plants that I could have an alliterative title each day. I haven’t been trying to do that systematically, but thryallis called out to me to link it with Thursday. With your avian knowledge, you could probably do the same for birds: finch Friday, mallard Monday…

      As for today’s flower, it really is an eye-grabber. I knew it only as is thryallis; in doing a bit of research I turned up the other name, narrowleaf goldshower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 17, 2021 at 9:28 PM

      • This might be a project for us to pursue in case we get bored–you with flowers, I with birds. 🙂


        June 17, 2021 at 9:34 PM

        • I’ve thought about it cross-language, too. If I go with French I get an l from lundi, whereas no English days begin with l. Similarly from German you can get a D that’s not available in English.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 17, 2021 at 10:32 PM

  8. I’m wondering if this might be the same plant I found ‘somewhere’ and couldn’t identify. At this point, I can’t find the photos and don’t remember where I saw it, which is a little odd for me. In any event, this one is a beauty, and now that I have some names to work with, I might be able to ID it when I find it.

    My inability to pronounce the name amused me. I kept wanting it to be ‘thy-rallis’ rather than ‘thry-allis.’ After a trip to the OneLook Dictionary, I found that the common Carolina Wren is known scientifically as Thryothorus ludovicianus.

    Is the color change a result of aging, or do they simply bloom in multiple colors? Whichever, the orange is especially striking. It reminds me of Scarlet Pimpernel, which blooms either orange or blue.


    June 17, 2021 at 9:45 PM

    • I read somewhere that one color can age into another. I don’t know if that’s true because I’ve seldom seen this plant. I’d have to have some near me that I could check every day to see what happened. Your mention of maybe having seen this species somewhere sent me to the USDA distribution map, and there I found something interesting: the map doesn’t show Galphimia angustifolia in Travis County or any adjacent county; the closest to here that’s marked on the map is Bexar County. Bill Carr does, however, have it in his Travis County plant list, and I first learned about it from Marshall Enquist’s Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country. Why the USDA map should be so inaccurate, I don’t know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 17, 2021 at 10:43 PM

  9. A Thry(a)lling find.


    June 18, 2021 at 1:32 AM

  10. Great photo Steve …it pops against the background


    June 19, 2021 at 2:18 PM

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