Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Sunflower Sunday again

with 26 comments

Once again from August 14th in the northeast quadrant of US 183 and Mopac here’s a “common” sunflower, Helianthus annuus. The view from behind revealed a curlicue ray floret. Also notice the ant on the stalk.
Have a closer look from a different frame:

As sunflowers dry out, their rays tend to go from yellow to white, and curlicues become more common, as shown below. (And did you know that curlicue is just curly + cue, where cue comes from French queue, meaning ‘tail’? When people queue up for something they form a metaphorical tail.)


❖        ❖        ❖


I recently came across Gabriel Nadales’s article “I once hated America, but now I can’t wait to be an American.” The author is a former antifa member who had a change of heart:

To be sure, America has its problems. But as I learned more about America’s ideals and what it aspires to be, a country of equal opportunity, freedom, and civil discourse, I began to find a true sense of belonging. I realized that America is an imperfect nation defined not by our faults but by our accomplishments. It’s a promise to work toward greater equality and freedom for all, regardless of your skin color or background.

This equality of opportunity is exactly the reason I’ve been able to find success as a brown Mexican immigrant. In this country, I am judged by my merits, not my skin color. America has given me the equal opportunity and freedom to choose my own path despite my minority and immigrant status. The idea that I can believe in myself is incredibly empowering.


You’re welcome to read Gabriel Nadales’s full article.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 28, 2022 at 4:29 AM

26 Responses

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  1. GMTA, Steve. I posted a younger version of a sunflower today as well!

    Eliza Waters

    August 28, 2022 at 7:34 AM

    • Happy sunflowers to us both. It took me a moment to work out GMTA; I’m happy to join that group.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2022 at 8:22 AM

    • More and more often, I’m having to resort to the urban dictionary to figure out these initialisms. It’s a sign of age, I suppose. No matter — eventually, I figured out that it doesn’t mean Green Mountain Transit Authority!


      August 28, 2022 at 10:00 AM

  2. From Texas to British Columbia, now comes the time for the sunflowers to impress.

    Peter Klopp

    August 28, 2022 at 9:29 AM

  3. I didn’t realize that the ray flowers would turn white. In fact, I can’t remember seeing such a thing. Maybe I stop looking at them once they’re no longer yellow. This did remind me of one of your previous posts, which I tried without luck to find. It showed the bracts, but one of them resembled a leaf; it was equally interesting.


    August 28, 2022 at 10:02 AM

    • Now you’ve got me wondering how often and to what extent the yellow rays turn white. In the third picture, you can still see traces of yellow in what had become mostly white.

      I did a bit of digging. This seems to be the photo you had in mind:

      Strangeness on the back of a sunflower

      How quickly the nine years went by since then.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2022 at 11:24 AM

      • That’s the one. It tickles me that I not only remember the places I first found various flowers, I also can remember so many of your photos. I’d say that’s a testament both to my memory and to your ability to produce striking images.

        By the way, that broken link in my response on the old post is due to my giving up the varnishgal.com URL that I used as an image server for years. It went back to my Weather Underground days, and I’ve continued to use it without much thought. When I looked at the monthly cost recently, I decided it was time to break that tie. Now, I’m in the process of transferring all of those images over to the WordPress site. I’m about halfway through, but need to wrap it up as soon as I can, since so many of my posts now are imageless until I get the job done.


        August 28, 2022 at 11:31 AM

        • You have a good memory for images, that’s for sure. I wish you a speedy transfer of your images (and add a reminder that speed once had the meanings ‘success, prosperity in an undertaking, favorable issue.’

          I noticed in my 2013 post about the strange sunflower that I was still able to get nature pictures then on the property adjacent to Costco that had been slowly getting developed. It’s been years since I could do that there.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 28, 2022 at 1:25 PM

  4. With our lack of rain I am not seeing as many sunflower fields as usual. I like the curled petal.

    Steve Gingold

    August 28, 2022 at 1:23 PM

    • I haven’t seen any expansive colonies here this year either, presumably for the same reason. Curls in flowers certainly make good photographic subjects.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2022 at 1:27 PM

  5. Lovely photographs. I had not noticed that “As sunflowers dry out, their rays tend to go from yellow to white”. The detail of the curl is very nice .

    Alessandra Chaves

    August 28, 2022 at 6:29 PM

    • I wonder if any botanists have studied how quickly and to what extent sunflower rays fade to white. It might vary from place to place and variety to variety.

      The curl certainly grabbed my attention. It may be the most tightly spiraled one I’ve seen.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2022 at 7:50 PM

  6. The yellows in the first image are glorious. I’m in Wisconsin, where there is no drought, and lots of Helianthus. Back to dry Massachusetts tomorrow.


    August 28, 2022 at 8:53 PM

  7. I love the curly-wurly petal and I enjoyed your comment about queues and tails. 🙂

    Ann Mackay

    August 29, 2022 at 6:33 AM

  8. Super shots Steve … that back view is a winner!


    August 30, 2022 at 2:11 PM

  9. All of these are very nice. I especially like the last for its uniqueness.


    September 4, 2022 at 9:33 AM

    • People usually don’t pay much attention to flowers that have withered and faded. That late stage is worth a look.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 4, 2022 at 9:44 AM

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