Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Liatris on the prairie

with 17 comments


At the Wildhorse Ranch subdivision in Manor on October 2nd I got low and photographed these flower spikes of Liatris punctata var. mucronata, known as gayfeather and blazing star, doing their autumnal thing on the Blackland Prairie. The greenbrier vine (Smilax bona-nox) climbing on the central flower spikes was a nice addition. Before I left the site I made sure to use the wispy clouds as a great backdrop for a tall exemplar of Turris electrica var. pratensis.


(I’m still traveling, so my presence here continues to be mostly virtual.)


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 17, 2022 at 4:32 AM

17 Responses

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  1. The angularity of the tower and the delicate swirl of clouds are nicely contrasted. I suspect the placement of the top of the tower against that clearing in the clouds was intentional. I’ve been focused so much on the coast and the woods I’ve not seen a single liatris of any sort this year. I need to remedy that; I’d forgotten how pretty they are.


    October 17, 2022 at 6:43 AM

    • Once again you suspect correctly. I maneuvered the best I could to get the top of the tower lined up with the cloudless area in the sky. I’d returned to the area for another crack at snow-on-the-prairie, as the day-before-yesterday’s post showed; the presence of liatris came as an unanticipated bonus. I do hope you find your share this season.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 17, 2022 at 7:42 AM

  2. Cool shot of the electric tower, is it “var. pratensis” because the wind was whistling through the wires?

    Robert Parker

    October 17, 2022 at 8:26 AM

    • Those were great clouds, that’s for sure. I could prate on about the etymology of pratensis, but I’ll just say I used it to mean ‘of the prairie.’

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 17, 2022 at 9:57 AM

  3. I like your turris electrica, planta ingens hominum.

    Peter Klopp

    October 17, 2022 at 9:14 AM

    • And I like your use of Latin ingens, meaning ‘vast, enormous, extraordinary, mighty, powerful.’

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 17, 2022 at 10:01 AM

  4. Liatris is a wildflower I used to see around here thirty years ago, but haven’t noted it anywhere lately. It’s a real beauty. I always laugh when you say greenbrier is a nice find. I’ve mentioned before how I manage to get poked and tangled in it when taking cascades of it down from the trees.

    When I was a little girl I used to think those huge transmission towers were big strong men holding up all of those phases. Some of the architectural lines on those structures are fascinating.


    October 17, 2022 at 5:01 PM

    • I’m sorry to hear that liatris has faded away in your area. We still have a fair amount of it here, but with the continuing development on so many fronts we’re losing habitat Just this year a formerly great site got built on.

      I remember your comment about greenbrier. Fortunately I’ve never had to take down copious amounts of it, but I’ve gotten my share of pokes and scratches all the same. Artistically I can stand apart from that and appreciate greenbrier for the good photographic subject it has been for me these 20+ years.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 17, 2022 at 8:42 PM

  5. If one is going to photograph those power line towers that sky is what you want for a backdrop.

    Steve Gingold

    October 17, 2022 at 6:40 PM

  6. I have always been an admirer of Liatris punctata. That I am now also a fan of Turris electrica has to do with the presence of Cirrus uncinus (this might not be the correct description of the lovely clouds in your photo, but I was intrigued to learn that clouds have genera and species, something I had never fully realized: https://cloudatlas.wmo.int/en/clouds-species.html).


    October 18, 2022 at 9:56 PM

    • Thanks for that link, which I’ll peruse after I get home from traveling. It does seem strange to think of cloud species, doesn’t it?

      I’m glad you’ve extended your appreciation from Liatris punctata to Turris electrica. I was photographing industrial structures long before I turned to native plants; there are still occasional moments when I revert.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 18, 2022 at 10:11 PM

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