Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Showy palafoxia in Bastrop

with 30 comments

Another species that doesn’t grow in Austin that I therefore drove to see in Bastrop State Park on September 23rd is Palafoxia hookeriana, called showy palafoxia, sand palafox, and Hooker’s palafoxia. This plant is sticky to the touch, as the short, soft, goo-tipped hairs in the second picture’s lower left confirm. (So do the fingers of anyone who has handled one of these plants, but I think you’ll agree that a picture of gooey fingers would take away from this post’s esthetic appeal.)

For more information about this genus in Texas, you can check out an article by Jason Singhurst.
And speaking of Texas, it’s the only American state where showy palafoxia grows.

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The other day I discovered The Thinking Shop, which sells posters and playing cards that teach about common cognitive biases and logical fallacies. If you go to the company’s online store and click on either of the posters, you can buy it but there’s also an option to download a free Creative Commons pdf version.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 5, 2021 at 4:33 AM

30 Responses

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  1. showy is right!


    October 5, 2021 at 4:42 AM

  2. I’ve found two of the Palafoxia species Jason mentions — one in the Sandylands preserve and the other in Brazoria county — but I’ve never seen this one. It’s certainly a beauty, and interesting. Your description brought to mind curly-cup gumweed, which I came across for the first time in southwest Kansas, and it’s great that your second photo shows that gumminess so well.

    Obligations are keeping me here until Sunday morning, but I just checked the map, and discovered Bastrop State Park’s only about three hours away. It looks as though the weather’s going to be cooperative; if it is, I may head that way and spend both Sunday and Monday looking around. I could easily combine Bastrop and Attwater. I believe I’ll ask my boss if I can have Monday off.


    October 5, 2021 at 7:27 AM

    • ‘Tis a beauty indeed, and one I look forward to seeing in Bastrop each fall. Your linkage to the gum in gumweed is right on (as people once said). The common Palafoxia in Austin is callosa, which is smaller and less impressive than the showy species.

      If you do decide to go to Bastrop, let us know, and we could meet you there Monday morning.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 5, 2021 at 10:18 AM

  3. A beautiful blossom, and I had the same reaction as Beth.

    Robert Parker

    October 5, 2021 at 8:07 AM

  4. What a gorgeous flower – truly living up to its name!

    Ann Mackay

    October 5, 2021 at 9:02 AM

    • I don’t want to slight a botanist, but the name “showy palafoxia” seems preferable to “Hooker’s palafoxia.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 5, 2021 at 10:24 AM

  5. If the palafoxia flower can only be found in Texas, it would be doubtful to find one in Canada.

    Peter Klopp

    October 5, 2021 at 9:05 AM

    • This species of Palafoxia doesn’t grow farther north than Texas. Palafoxia rosea makes it to Wyoming, and that’s the closest any species in this genus gets to Canada.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 5, 2021 at 10:28 AM

  6. Beautiful flower, I particularly like the radial symmetry of the first photo, well done.

    Very cool shop. Now I know where to buy the items to display at home and office and lose the few friends I still have 🤣

    Alessandra Chaves

    October 5, 2021 at 9:10 AM

    • Let’s hear it for radial symmetry, and for symmetry in general.
      Your last sentence is funny. I hope things aren’t really that bad, but I’m pretty cynical, and you may well be right.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 5, 2021 at 10:34 AM

      • Bringing up friends’ logical fallacies is a good way to end up without friends 😂

        Alessandra Chaves

        October 5, 2021 at 10:48 AM

        • You’ve coined a new maxim, one that would fit right in with the cynical observations of La Rochefoucauld:


          Steve Schwartzman

          October 5, 2021 at 11:01 AM

          • LOL. “As in friendship so in love, we are often happier from ignorance than from knowledge.” Some of the sayings about women remind me of Nietzsche.

            Alessandra Chaves

            October 5, 2021 at 12:06 PM

            • That quotation fits right in with what you were saying about the risk of correcting your friends’ logical errors.

              Steve Schwartzman

              October 5, 2021 at 1:35 PM

              • “410.—The greatest effort of friendship is not to show our faults to a friend, but to show him his own.”

                Alessandra Chaves

                October 5, 2021 at 1:48 PM

                • Right on target.

                  La Rochefoucauld’s Maximes was one of the first books in French I ever owned. I was either in high school or college—I’m not sure which—when I bought it at a French bookstore in Manhattan. I remember looking at parts of it while riding the subway on my way home. French books in those days were often sold with many of the pages uncut. The purchaser would have to use a razor blade or sharp knife to separate the pages.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 5, 2021 at 2:04 PM

  7. Nice one


    October 5, 2021 at 10:59 AM

  8. The first shot has a nice layout composition of the out of focus background blooms. The second has a little pussycat riding the lower bud.

    Steve Gingold

    October 5, 2021 at 1:59 PM

    • And don’t forget the bulldog of a photographer who tenaciously grabbed these pictures.

      You recognize that out-of-focus flowers in the background, whether of the same species as the subject or a different one, is a standard photographic ploy of mine.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 5, 2021 at 2:09 PM

  9. Steve, many thanks for your photographs and observations which I view regularly. Your explorations of the liberal mindset bring to mind a quote about liberals from Santayana whose writings applied to liberals of the Wilson era but are still relevant. “Being a reformer and a philanthropist, [the liberal] exerts himself to turn all men into the sort of men he likes, so as to be able to like them. It would be selfish, he thinks, to let people alone. They must be helped, and not merely helped to what they desire—that might really be very bad for them—but helped onwards, upwards in the right direction.”

    Jack Durston

    john durston

    October 5, 2021 at 10:10 PM

  10. Hi, Jack. Thanks for introducing me to that great comment from Santayana. I found that the passage comes from the essay “Liberalism and Culture” in Soliloquies in England, published in 1923. I agree with you that the thought is still right on target a century later, capturing as it does the ethos of today’s “Progressives.” In Santayana’s own time, H.L. Mencken mocked the same attitude in “do-gooders.” Coming back to our own era, it also fits what Thomas Sowell has referred to as “the expansive vision of human nature,” which others have called utopianism. Opposed to that is what Sowell calls the restrained vision of human nature, which is the one shared by founders of our country like John Adams. It’s in that spirit that the Constitution limits what the different branches of government can do, and it’s why the mechanism for amending the Constitution was purposely made difficult. People like Adams were leery of the power of the mob to do sudden and great damage.

    Steve Schwartzman

    October 5, 2021 at 10:45 PM

  11. Gooey fingers would definitely spoil the aesthetic appeal of the image, just as esthetic spoils (for me) the aesthetic appeal of the word aesthetic. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)


    October 7, 2021 at 5:25 PM

    • You put that well. I think I’ve sometimes gone with the older spelling aesthetic, but at other times have opted for the one-letter-shorter variant, as I did here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 7, 2021 at 7:30 PM

  12. […] appealing in Bastrop State Park on September 23rd when it was backed up by the pink of some showy palafoxia flower heads (Palafoxia hookeriana) and the blue sky that morning. As I so often do, I lay on my […]

  13. Gorgeous bloom!


    October 12, 2021 at 1:41 PM

  14. […] The following picture shows that elsewhere in the park the supporting cast for camphorweed included showy palafoxia (Palafoxia hookeriana) and woolly croton (Croton […]

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