Seeing Double

Expansive fields of wildflowers can be breathtaking: so much so that the individual blooms which make up their grand sweep of color tend to disappear. Looking among the flowers to find some fresh and photogenic examples, I discovered a surprise: a doubled Nueces coreopsis, shining in the sun.

Nueces coreopsis ~ Coreopsis nuecensis

Both the scientific and common names offer a clue to this Texas endemic’s location. Flowing from its headwaters in Edwards and Real counties, the Nueces River was called Rio de las Nueces, or ‘River of Nuts’ by early Spanish explorers — an apparent reference to pecan trees growing along its banks. More than a flower bears the river’s name. Today, it ends in Nueces County and enters Nueces Bay at Corpus Christi.


Occasionally there are other ‘double’ surprises. Of course these swallowtail butterflies are individuals, but for a moment they ‘doubled up,’ and enjoyed the Floresville cemetery sunshine in their own way.

Black swallowtails  ~ Papilio polyxenes

Comments always are welcome.

61 thoughts on “Seeing Double

    1. I do enjoy finding the little ‘oddities’ out there: doubled flowers, white sports of usually blue or pink flowers, fasciated plants, and so on. Needless to say, I often find odd people just as interesting. Whether it’s flowers or folks, the individual often has more to offer than the collective.

    1. It’s too bad I couldn’t have snapped a photo of the coreopsis together with the hunting dog that jumped out of a passing truck and came to visit. I’m always cautious about country dogs, but this one was just curious, and when his owner honked for him to come back to the truck, he was gone in a flash.

  1. No doubt you remember the old Wrigley’s commercial featuring twins: “Double your pleasure, double your fun…, double your pleasure with Doublemint gum.” And speaking of doubling, alongside nueces is the related Spanish nogales, meaning ‘walnut trees,’ which doubles as the name of a border town in Arizona.

    1. They’re a beautiful flower, and worth a little traveling. If you get back to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge, you surely will find some. I stopped for gas on TX 35 in Holiday Beach, and there were some blooming there, as well as around Tivoli.

    1. I’ll say this — mating butterflies are easier to photograph than fluttering butterflies; they stay put for a while. I wished it hadn’t been so terrifically windy, but they were low enough to the ground that things worked out. And I agree with you about the coreopsis; I think every species is beautiful.

    1. Can’t you imagine a sunflower puffing and panting, saying “I think I can! I think I can!” There’s so much to see in nature — just think how much even the most observant among us is missing.

  2. I’m enjoying your wildflower finds this year. I haven’t been south and east of San Antonio this spring, but it looks like I may need to take the short drive and have a look around.

    1. It required a little more driving this year than in 2019, just because the flowers seemed to be spotty: a gorgeous stand here, a few paltry flowers there. Sometimes, five miles was enough to make a difference. I’d though the freeze might have created some problems, but my sense was that drought is more of an issue. It may be that spotty rainfall created spotty blooms.

      On the other hand, by the time I headed home and passed through some of the same areas, it was clear that even more flowers were emerging. I don’t think you’d be too late.

  3. Beautiful catches, Linda! I would love pecan trees, but I don’t think they survive this far north. The valley floor here can grow figs, and some places in Oregon north of us manage olive trees, but where we are in the foothills is borderline. Walnuts and hazelnuts do well in my area.

    1. When I was a kid, hazelnuts were a treat at Christmas time; they’d come in bags of mixed nuts in the shell that we’d sit around and crack. We called them filberts, and I see that both names are accepted now. The last time I had hazelnuts, they were part of Tillamook’s hazelnut and salted caramel ice cream: delicious!

  4. Look at you, Linda — wonderful captures! One of these days, I’d like to have some butterfly-attracting plants because those are the friendly sort of insect I don’t mind hovering in my yard. And that coreopsis is stunning — looks like somebody painted on its colors … perhaps with a toothpick!

    1. This particular coreopsis reminds me of the paper flowers that were so common before plastic and silk flowers came on the scene. They were made of the same kind of paper as those little party umbrellas, and we loved playing with them.

      There are a lot of butterfly-attracting native plants for your area that are easy and pretty. Here’s a plant list for Illinois that takes different kinds of soil into account. If you have a favorite butterfly or two, you even can look up which flowers they prefer!

  5. Obviously a memorable outing, Linda, and your photographs are really quite splendid. Nature delivers every time!

    1. It was a wonderful little trip, David: not least because I wasn’t at all sure what kind of wildflower crop we’d have this year. As it turns out, it takes more than a long, hard freeze to take out the flowers. Drought’s a different issue, and it’s affecting part of the state, but there’s still plenty to enjoy. I’m glad you enjoyed these, and I’m glad the pollinators have their usual banquet to feast on.

    1. That’s right! I have three pairs of birds at my feeders now: house finches, doves, and mockingbirds. Well, and there’s a pair of cardinals in the shrubbery that I suspect are ground feeding. In those cases, I suspect 1 + 1 is going to equal more than two!

    1. Thanks, Jason. It’s been especially satisfying to see so many insects of every sort out and about. Not all are as pretty as the swallowtails, but they’re doing their part to get things back on track.

    1. When I was going through my photos, I discovered another doubling — this time, in a Physostegia species known popularly as the spring obedient plant. They’re everywhere!

    1. They’re not roses, but they’ll do! Now that I think of it, this doubled flower resembles some of the fancy double hibiscus and other cultivated doubles — maybe this is how some of them start!

    1. Aren’t they fun to come across? It seems to me that members of the sunflower family tend to double more often than those of other genera: at least, that’s my experience. I’ve seen a doubled firewheel, but not a black-eyed Susan. Maybe this will be the year.

    1. “Eye catching” is exactly the right phrase. More and more often, something will catch my eye because it doesn’t look quite ‘right.’ The butterflies are a good example. I spotted them from some distance away, but what registered was the black ‘lump’ on the stem of the paintbrush. Indian paintbrush don’t commonly have black lumps on their stems, so I walked over to see what it was. Voila!

      Of course, dumb luck can play a role, too, and that’s what happened with the doubled flower. I’d stopped the car for a look just because all the colors seemed so bright, and when I sat down and began looking around, there it was. Tickled me to death! (By the way, check your email.)

  6. Ah yes, ’tis the season. As a college professor of mine use to note as he saw couples heading off into the woods next to the campus in spring:”Spring is sprung, the grass is riz, let’s go where the birdies is…” I think the original Irish ditty went “I wonder where the birdies is?” But he had modified it to fit the occasion.

    1. The version I grew up with ended “I wonder where the flowers is?” I got curious about your mention of an Irish connection, because I learned the doggerel from my Irish mother. It seems that it’s probably not Irish. Many people have attributed the verse to Ogden Nash, but it seems to be anonymous. Nash did come up with his own springtime verse, though, published as “Spring Comes to Murray Hill” in The New Yorker magazine dated 3rd May 1930. It begins with another grin:

      “I sit in an office at 244 Madison Avenue
      And say to myself You have a responsible job, havenue?
      Why then do you fritter away your time on this doggerel?
      If you have a sore throat you can cure it by using a good goggerel.”

      What really tickles me is that the Lutheran Church headquarters I used to visit from time to time was at 231 Madison Avenue. If I’d been a few decades earlier, I could have engaged in some word play with Nash.

      1. The first time I ever heard it was from my US History professor who was a character and a half, Linda. It stuck in my mind ever since. He actually was a poet however, and a fairly good one. It sounds like Ogden Nash might be one of those people you would visit if you could time travel.
        BTW, on quilts, Peggy has now worked her way though her list of obligations. My African Quilt, which will incoporate that fun African cloth you sent me is one quilt away! –Curt

        1. I can’t wait to see that piece transformed into a quilt. I don’t know enough about fabric to be sure, but I imagine it’s going to be more than usually tricky because of the weave of the cloth and the way the patterns are done. It will be fun to see the result.

          1. Peggy will use a special backing for quilt to stabilize the fabric, Linda. It’s the same backing she used when she made a quilt for Tony out of old T-shirts that were special to him and reflected his life in the Marines and Coast Guard. I will be adding some of materials I brought home from Liberia for the project as well. It should be fun. I expect it will be fall bvefre we see the finished quilt. –Curt

  7. Spring is the season of bright, fresh, new colors. I think we may be the only species that sees flowers as things of beauty in their own right, viewing them without ulterior motive (looking at you, nectar drinking insects!), even though we don’t get the full show, not being able to see into the ultraviolet spectrum.

    1. I’m sure you’ve seen the photos of flowers’ ultraviolet patterns, but in one of the best examples of serendipity ever, look what I found in this Harvard U article about the phenomenon:

      “How do we know that insects can see ultraviolet light? In a simple experiment peformed in the late 19th century, Sir John Lubbock exposed an ant colony to different parts of the visual spectrum (a “rain-bow”) that had been separated by passing light through a prism.

      Ants will normally carry their larvae and pupae away from any light source. Lubbock found that the ants did not leave the area exposed to red light but did leave the other lighted areas, as well as the area beyond the violet that appeared unlighted to a human observer. The presence of ultraviolet light in this apparently unlighted area was demonstrated using fluorescent pigments. This experiment revealed that ants cannot perceive red but can see the other colors, including ultraviolet.”

      Granted, that’s not one of our Texas Lubbocks, but it still tickled me.

    1. These double blooms are ‘accidental’ — akin to white forms of pink or blue flowers. I found a doubled Physotegia this year, too. I suppose every flower’s capable of it, but most seem content to stick with their program and produce in a more typical way. Some of the ‘accidents’ do get picked up and encouraged by plant breeders, but I don’t think they’ve been able to produce doubled coreopsis, as they have with hibiscus.

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