Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Another way-out-of-season wildflower

with 24 comments

Far outnumbering the lone way-out-of season bluebonnet I photographed along Mopac on December 9th were the many Engelmann daisies (Engelmannia peristenia) on the same embankment. I saw plenty of these flowers, along with lots of other Engelmann daisy plants that looked fresh and healthy but hadn’t yet produced any flowers. Marshall Enquist gives the normal blooming season for the species as March through July, so these Engelmann daisies were only a little less of a rarity in December than the bluebonnet. This season’s first good frost on December 11th apparently didn’t hurt the Engelmann daisies because I’m still seeing plenty of them flowering along Mopac.

Both pictures show the typical concave (pinched-in) configuration of the ray florets as a bud opens.

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The other day we watched the film Makala, which means ‘charcoal’ in Swahili. The documentary follows Kasongo, a rural Congolese man who ekes out a bare living laboriously cutting down trees, turning the wood into charcoal, and trekking that charcoal to a town to sell it. If you want to appreciate how good we have it in first-world countries, watch Makala. To learn more about the movie, you can read a review by Roger Ebert.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 18, 2021 at 4:28 AM

24 Responses

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  1. Beautiful details. I like all the little hairs you see on the flower.


    December 18, 2021 at 5:50 AM

    • The main Engelmann daisy leaves (which don’t appear in either picture) are soft and fuzzy, a pleasure to touch.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 18, 2021 at 8:35 AM

      • I love that detail too – feels like I could reach out and stroke those hairs. 🙂

        Ann Mackay

        December 19, 2021 at 10:55 AM

  2. These are both lovely images. I wonder why there are so many “way-out-of-season” wildflowers blooming? This was an unusual year where the Siberian blast seemed to help many plants flourish. It makes me think about the timing of seed germination, and the right temperatures and moisture content of the soil – apparently you have just the right recipe going!


    December 18, 2021 at 7:10 AM

    • Yup, that “recipe” has really been producing. Some people think February’s horrendous freeze is one ingredient. There’s certainly the fact that even now, with winter officially beginning in a few days, we haven’t yet had our first fall freeze and barely even any frost. Rainfall for the year has been adequate. So many factors are potentially involved that I don’t know if anyone has figured it all out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 18, 2021 at 8:42 AM

  3. Yesterday, I spotted a large patch of pink in a mowed vacant lot near where I was working. Of course I turned around and walked in to look. It was some species of Oxalis, with flowers taller and somewhat larger than I would have expected. I usually find them in partial shade rather than full sun; if I have a chance today, I’ll go back and photograph them.

    It’s interesting that you’ve found both bluebonnets and Engelmann daisies. When I looked back at my photos from places like Willow City and Goliad, they showed those flowers blooming together at their more usual time. It makes sense that if one appears, the other would as well. Keep your eye out for another of their seasonal friends: the Huisache daisy.


    December 18, 2021 at 8:07 AM

    • ps: the story of Kasongo reminds me of subsistence rice farmers in Liberia cutting their fields out of the bush with machetes. It also brought to mind the cedar choppers of Texas, and the book based on their lives.
      By the way, Curiosity Stream is offering new subscribers an annual subscription for $12. I remember you subscribed; has it been worthwhile?


      December 18, 2021 at 8:12 AM

      • I figured you’d be reminded of similar subsistence living in Liberia. I hadn’t thought about our local cedar choppers, but they had a hard time of it too.

        We subscribed to Curiosity Stream for a similar initial price. Yes, I’d say it’s worth it. We sometimes forget we have it, and when I remember I make a point of checking to see what programs are available. They keep adding new ones pretty often.

        Steve Schwartzman

        December 18, 2021 at 8:55 AM

    • Happy Oxalising if you make it back to that lot. The fact that the flowers grew taller than you’re used to is a photographic asset. I’ve done my share of lying on the ground for Oxalis pictures.

      I’ve often found bluebonnets and Engelmann daisies blooming near each other in the spring, too. What makes me wonder whether the recent recurrence of both involves more than just their normal simultaneous spring blooming season is that certain other plants that flower in the same spring season apparently never bloom late in the year, even with the kind of extended warmth we’ve been having. For example, I’ve yet to see a prickly pear cactus flower outside its normal period. As for huisache daisies, I normally have to go outside Austin to see them even in the spring, so finding one flowering here now would be a double whammy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 18, 2021 at 8:52 AM

  4. Wonderful photos. These are great to see. We had one or two plants re-flower much later than expected, they were a joy to see.


    December 18, 2021 at 8:38 AM

    • Thanks. I’ve heard that the UK has been having mild autumns recently, so it’s not surprising for a few plants to take advantage of that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 18, 2021 at 8:57 AM

  5. I am curious how long the daisy plants will carry on producing flowers. I am sure you will be curious too and come back to the place where you found them, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    December 18, 2021 at 9:28 AM

    • Mopac is a busy expressway, and these Engelmann daisies are flowering along both sides of it only 3-4 miles from home. We often pass that way, so I’ll be able to keep an eye on the plants and see when they finish flowering.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 18, 2021 at 9:38 AM

  6. Nice aperture choices in both of these images. Those hairy sepals look like Rudbeckia.
    My last flowers here were garden cranesbill, Helianthus, and a few forget-me-nots – but that’s weeks ago.


    December 18, 2021 at 10:31 AM

    • Rudbeckia hirta is no stranger here, either. In fact hirta means ‘hairy’ in Latin.

      The fact that your last flowers vanished a few weeks ago isn’t strange so far north. As you’ve seen, we’re getting an extension of our already extended fall bloom period.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 18, 2021 at 10:37 AM

  7. My Lindheimer’s Texas Star or Lindheimera texana – is also flowering now when it usually waits until the end of Feb, early March to do so. Several of them are blooming now in my yard. They are an early Spring pollinator plant.

    Betty Saenz

    December 18, 2021 at 1:02 PM

    • After the Engelmann daisy I can’t say I’m surprised that Lindheimer wanted to get in on the fall action too. You know those enterprising Germans. Now that you’ve alerted us to your Texas star, maybe I’ll also see one flowering out of season.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 18, 2021 at 1:08 PM

  8. Beautiful photographs of a very cute flower. I don’t have to watch a documentary, traveling through Mozambique’s road number one and the streets of Beira did teach me that I knew nothing about “real life”. Mozambique is, I think, the second poorest country in the world. Cattle and horses don’t survive there and most of the wild game is gone. Very poor.

    Alessandra Chaves

    December 19, 2021 at 10:54 AM

    • I don’t remember ever hearing anyone refer to Engelmann daisies as cute, but you’ve come up with an apt description. I never expected to have an end-of-year encounter with flowers of this species. And speaking of that, this is the only species in its genus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 19, 2021 at 11:41 AM

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