Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Apache plume in Albuquerque

with 17 comments


I enjoyed looking at the historical paintings of New Mexico in the Albuquerque Museum on October 15th, but when I arrived and noticed a bunch of native plants in a garden outside, I spent the better part of an hour there before viewing the museum’s exhibits. Among the native plants I photographed was Apache plume, which I get to see only when I travel to far west Texas or further west. Botanists classify this member of the rose family as Fallugia paradoxa, the only species in its genus. When I first glimpsed the plant years ago, its fluffy stage made me think I was looking at some kind of Clematis. The top picture shows the resemblance.



The flowers are white, but as the one above began to shrivel and produce the characteristic plumes, one petal was turning a rich red. I scrolled through several hundred pictures online and didn’t see an Apache plume flower with a red area like this one. Maybe the red is typical and people just tend not to put up photographs of shriveling flowers. On the other hand, I saw two flowers with a petal turning red, so maybe it’s common.



In any case, the Apache plume flowers attracted a slew of insects, mostly ants, but also
this syrphid fly, which is apparently Paragus haemorrhous (thanks, bugguide.net).


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 19, 2022 at 4:27 AM

17 Responses

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  1. Nice flowers once you look more into detail.
    Have a lovely weekend and many greets,


    November 19, 2022 at 7:32 AM

    • I find that looking closely often provides rewards, and normally I use my macro lens more than any other. On this trip I made an exception to my usual practice because the vast landscapes and mountains and cliffs in New Mexico were something I couldn’t get at home.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 19, 2022 at 8:43 AM

  2. It looks like that insect is wearing a ruby! Great finds and images.


    November 19, 2022 at 11:06 AM

  3. With temperatures below freezing for the past ten days, I look at your photos of the blossoming apache plume trees with a bitter-sweet touch of nostalgia, remembering that we were swimming in nearby Whatshan Lake only a month ago.

    Peter Klopp

    November 19, 2022 at 12:34 PM

    • I took these pictures a month ago, at the same time when you were swimming so much farther north in Whatshan Lake. The weather forecast for the overnight low in Albuquerque today is -5°C.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 19, 2022 at 6:34 PM

  4. It’s a pretty plant and a new one to me. In the last photo, it looks a lot like an apple blossom.

    Robert Parker

    November 19, 2022 at 5:04 PM

    • And with good reason, because botanically speaking apple trees and Apache plume bushes are both in the rose family. Apache plume grows in the southwestern part of the country, so it’s not surprising you’re not familiar with it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 19, 2022 at 6:38 PM

  5. Pretty!


    November 19, 2022 at 5:51 PM

    • I’m always happy to encounter Apache plume. I think the last time had been five years earlier.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 19, 2022 at 6:39 PM

  6. Of course I saw clematis in that first photo, but the jewel-like center in the second photo really caught my eye. It’s a beautiful plant, and interesting that it’s the only one in its genus. On a US Forest Service page, I found this: “This is one of the showiest of the Southwestern native shrubs. It really stands out when the pink, silky-plumed seed heads develop and cover the tips of the branches.” That’s at least a hint that the color you found isn’t an aberration.

    I recently discovered that the PictureThis app I use occasionally for plant identification has more to offer than I realized. It also will identify trees, tree rings, birds, and insects. After I identified all the insects in my current post, I went back and used the app for comparison. It confirmed each of the IDs, and when I took a photo of your photo of this syrphid fly, it came up with Paragus haemorrhous. It’s a nice tool to pair with BugGuide and other sites.


    November 19, 2022 at 8:46 PM

    • Now I wonder if the pink in that US Forest Service quotation that mentions seed heads refers to the silky fibers rather than the petals.

      I downloaded PictureThis to my phone a few weeks ago but didn’t use it after I saw that it’s $30 a year. Is that what you’re paying? You report good results from it, which is better than what I found when I tried iNaturalist a few months ago: most of its suggestions were wrong.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 19, 2022 at 10:09 PM

      • I did go ahead and pay the $30, especially after they upgraded their features. For $2.50/month, less than half of a Starbuck’s concoction, it seemed worthwhile. I don’t use it much in the field, but an interesting feature called the 360 view, which bases identification on three views taken from different angles and distances, means that leaves, bracts, and so on can be used for ID, too. I once spent about an hour taking photos of already-identified plants from my archives, and I’d say the app was 98% correct. Amazing, really.


        November 20, 2022 at 8:36 AM

        • That’s good to know. The next time I’m in a place with several interesting plants that I don’t recognize, I may switch on the app’s 7-day free trial and see how well it works. If it comes in with the same accuracy you report, the yearly fee would be worth it.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 20, 2022 at 9:49 AM

  7. […] October 15th in a garden outside the Albuquerque Museum I spent time photographing native plants. Among those I photographed was Apache plume, Fallugia paradoxa, which I couldn’t resist playing a flower of off* in a […]

  8. Now I think you need to do a thorough investigation of the color of the petals.

    Alessandra Chaves

    November 20, 2022 at 6:53 AM

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