Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Virginia saltmarsh mallows

with 15 comments


On the gulf side of Galveston Island State Park on September 19th I sat near the base of some cattails and wildflowers and took a bunch of pictures. At one point a passerby asked me what I was photographing. It seemed pretty obvious to me but I said “wildflowers.” A few minutes later a couple asked me the same question, and I answered the same way. The woman in the couple said she thought what I was photographing looked weedy. There’s no accounting for tastes, is there? The most prominent of the wildflowers I took pictures of there was Virginia saltmarsh mallow, Kosteletzkya pentacarpos or virginica, whose genus name I always have to double-check the spelling of. Below is an artsy portrait showing one of the opening flowers. That it’s reminiscent of a conch befits the oceanside location, don’t you think?





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© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 4, 2022 at 4:31 AM

15 Responses

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  1. They look so delicate. I love the texture and that lovely shade of pink and light in the bottom image.


    October 4, 2022 at 5:17 AM

    • They do look delicate, and yet the seaside sometimes brings strong winds. I didn’t anticipate how nicely the second picture would turn out, particularly that pink glow at the heart of the opening flower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2022 at 6:00 AM

  2. The glassy appearance of the bud in the second photo is especially nice, and quite unusual. I laughed at the “what are you photographing?” questions. I was asked the same thing by several people at Brazos Bend last weekend; they all assumed I’d found an alligator. ‘Flowers” wasn’t the answer they wanted.

    The scientific name surprised me. Despite pentacarpos being shown as an alternate name in places like Eason and the USDA maps, I’ve never heard anyone use it, and never have noticed it in my reading. In the past, if I’d heard K. pentacarpos, I’d have had no idea what plant was meant. Interesting.


    October 4, 2022 at 7:22 AM

    • I can see where alligators in a place like Brazos Bend, which is known for them, would be what questioners assume you’re after there. For me, far from alligator land, the assumption almost always seems to be that I’m looking for birds, even when the short lens on my camera and where I’m aiming ought to dispel any idea that I’m after birds.

      I agree the second picture is unusual, and fortunately in a good way. Take enough pictures and fortune favors you with some gems. As for the name change, I hadn’t run across pentacarpos till now. You know those botanistsL for them the quo never seems to last long in the status.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2022 at 7:34 AM

  3. ‘Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.’ – Franz Kafka
    Pity those folks who couldn’t see the beauty in these flowers. They are lovely.

    Eliza Waters

    October 4, 2022 at 7:29 AM

    • Good quotation, and one I’d not heard before.
      I wonder if when most people lived in rural areas the ability to see beauty in untamed nature would have come more naturally than it does to some people now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2022 at 7:38 AM

  4. I guess one person’s weed is another person’s flower.

    automatic gardener

    October 4, 2022 at 7:34 AM

  5. The flowers against the backdrop of the blue sky create a summer-like feeling. Well done, Steve!

    Peter Klopp

    October 4, 2022 at 12:30 PM

    • Thanks. In terms of temperature (and even the calendar for a few days more), it was still summer in Texas at the time. The blue of the sky worked well to complement the pink of the mallow flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2022 at 12:38 PM

  6. I agree–these mallows are gorgeous. I might not have been able to suppress a snide remark if someone had called them “weedy” in my presence, though it might be more effective to point out the flowers’ many beneficial roles.


    October 4, 2022 at 1:59 PM

    • I can be sarcastic (hey, I’m from New York) but in this case I gave a straightforward answer and let it go. At other times I’ve gone into my teacher role.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2022 at 10:45 PM

  7. […] on some of the Virginia saltmarsh mallows, Kosteletzkya pentacarpos or virginica, which you saw in the last post on the gulf side of Galveston Island State Park on September 19th, were a bunch of hairypod cowpea […]

  8. Artsy shot … so good! Did you use your flash?


    October 9, 2022 at 1:33 AM

    • Thanks. No, I didn’t use flash. I believe that would have reduced the rosy color at the center of the opening flower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 9, 2022 at 5:47 AM

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