Writing Wildflower Guides

For several years I scoured the roadsides, the hills, the ravines, the wetlands for wild plants with the idea of writing wildflower guides. I amassed over 400 plants in pictures and wrote pages about a hundred or more of them.

Why should I bother with writing wildflower guides? I am not a botanist. I can barely follow the descriptions in a botanical description. The identification keys are a struggle.

reject picture for writing wildflower guides
If I wanted a picture for a wildflower or grass guide, this would not be it. Why not? Because the light glares on the top of the foxtail grass bloom. If I just want a picture of a foxtail, I might choose this one because of how the light picks up the hairs on it.

More to the point, this information is easily accessible both on the internet at places like www.missouriplants.com and in print in books like the three volume “Flora of Missouri”, “Missouri Wildflowers” and “Ozark Wildflowers”. Why should I attempt to duplicate these? Leave writing wildflower guides to the experts.

I love taking pictures of plants and flowers. It is challenging to get that great shot. In sunlight or shade? What about glare? What about the plants around it? How do you picture a vine? How do you get to flowers several feet or tens of feet over your head?

Desmodium flowers used in writing wildflower guides
Beggar tick seeds come from plants in the genus Desmodium. There are a number of them and this is the largest. All of the flowers look similar in shape and color to this one. Lighting is what makes the flowers stand out. The background was in shade. A single ray of sunshine lit up the flowers.

The pile of pictures continued to accumulate. They filled a 16 GB flashkey. Another flashkey is now half full.

Some of the pictures end up on the website. If you are a regular visitor, you’ve seen them. Most of them sit on the flashkey for years.

wild potato flowers
In writing wildflower guides, photographs are usually confined to individual flowers. This saves space. Often I prefer to have more than one flower in a picture as the light qualities of each vary and the picture is more interesting. These wild potato flowers are best photographed in the morning in the shade or on a cloudy day.

My dream of writing wildflower guides had met reality and faded away. I tried to stop taking so many plant photographs, but couldn’t. And then I came across “Missouri In Flight” by Mundy Hackett.

This book wasn’t a bird guidebook, but was. It wasn’t a picture book of bird photographs, but was. It was about both the bird photographs and including a short comment about each bird.

Count the sparrow's feathers
One of the best things about taking my camera with me most of the time, is the opportunity to get a picture like this one of a sparrow. This sparrow was sitting in my garden fence. Fledglings are not as wary as adult birds and can give photography opportunities.

In writing wildflower guides the author has one picture of a plant and a lengthy description of the plant. What I love are the pictures and there are never enough of them or enough details in them.

So, instead of writing wildflower guides, I will hope to do wildflower photograph books with short commentaries and names of each plant. My stash of wildflower photographs is growing again.