Share in my adventurous journey of finding the plants that are rare and endangered and creating their portraits. The biggest challenge is not only locating their natural or protected habitat and co-ordinating with people that can lead you to their sites, but to time your visit to capture the plant’s bloom. If possible, I return many times so that I can record the cycle of growth through to its seed production as well. It is illegal to remove the plants or any parts, so all documentation must be done on site and there is careful monitoring. Meet these people who take time out of their busy schedule to lead an artist to a solo plant; I hope my art measures up to their dedication to conservation!
Tradescantia pedicellata Celarier, Granite Spiderwort: Family: Commelinaceae, Global/State Rank:G2S2, Global/State Range: Endemic to Central Texas in Blanco, Burnet, Llano, and Mason counties, mostly in the Llano Uplift area
On March 13th 2010 I gave a talk in Marble Falls Texas to the Highland Lakes chapter of the Native Plant Society. At the end of the talk Marvin Bloomquist, then the new chapter president, approached me saying that he had the rare Granite Spiderwort on his ranch. He was so gracious to email me when it was blooming in April and invited my husband and me to his property called Boiling Springs Ranch in Texas where he protects and monitors this tiny Spiderwort. This plant is listed along with more than 225 other plants in “Rare Plants of Texas” and grows mostly in the fractures of pink granite-derived soils of the Llano Uplift.
This species of spiderwort is only 30 cm as opposed to the Giant Spiderwort that can be up to two feet tall, or taller! It is an erect perennial with long linear leaves dark green to yellowish-green. Here it is in its pink granite ‘soil’.
Flower is pink to dark blue with 3 petals and Marvin even had a photo of a white one on his property. Plant is densely and uniformly covered with medium to long hairs.
Here is Marvin taking us to the Granite Spiderwort on his ranch. It is one of 7 plants endemic to the Llano Uplift and occurs in fractures of granite outcrops.
Sitting right down in my beautiful “outdoor studio” to document the specimen that I chose out of many that were blooming that day. The bloom cycle is April-May.
Besides hours of note-taking drawing, I also take photos such as the above to help me remember smaller details such as the buds or spent flowers or the underside of the flower when I finish the painting in my studio.
Documenting a rare plant requires lots of close-up time in the field, because you can’t take it with you!
I called this painting “Becoming Rare” and painted it with watercolor and graphite pencil at its actual size (9 1/2″ x 9″) from the specimen that bloomed on Marvin’s ranch April 27, 2010.
I entered the painting into an international juried show in 2011 called Blossom II – Art of Flowers. Out of 2,300 entries (100 were chosen) it made it into the exhibition that debuted in the Museum of Art in Naples, Florida! This exhibit has it own virtual tour and well as being able to download the above catalog (granite spiderwort is in Gallery 6).
The painting was also exhibited in the “Currents” show at the Rockport Center for the Arts in Texas and won me a Merit Artist Award in 2013. This allowed me the honor to show at the Center in 2014 with 5 other artists in an exhibition called “Standing Out”.
Thank You, Marvin for the privilege of seeing and documenting this plant on your ranch. I certainly want to continue with this work of documenting rare and endangered plants and with over 250 plants in Texas alone, I don’t think I will run out of work soon.
Learn, Give Thought, Be Inspired, Take Action……Bring Back Balance
Lotus McElfish LotusMcElfish.com
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