Bracted Twistflower

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!
Streptanthus bracteatus, Family: Brassicaceae, Global/State Ranks G2S2, Global/State Range:  Endemic to the Edwards Plateau in Bandera, Baxar, Comal, Medina, Real, Travis, & Uvalde counties. 

This plant is not on the endangered list yet, but there are concerns that this annual is vanishing. There are just a few populations left in Austin due to development and only a few known populations elsewhere in Texas. There are none in any other state. Join me at a natural habitat protected in the Eisenhower Park in San Antonio. They have noted that the seed can remain dormant for many years until just the right conditions exist for it to germinate in the fall. After Eric Lautzenheiser (Superintendent of Natural Areas) checked many times, he found it was not only coming up (spring 07) but was blooming on April 26th due to the abundant winter rain. He arranged for Janice Merritt to meet and guide me to the protected habitat. We were lucky!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJanice Merritt from San Antonio Parks and Recreation leads the way.

And this is the path near the end of about a 45 minute walk to see the plant.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the deer-fenced area I was given the combination so that I could return until I finished the painting, which I did weeks later to record the seed.

Janice left me to paint inside the caged area. I felt federally protected also!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEach plant is tagged for research. I chose specimen #10 and this shows the base.


In April or May the winter growing rosette sends up a 1-4 foot stalk that has lovely lavender-purple flowers. At the bottom of each flower stalk is a tiny bract that distinguishes the species from others in the genus.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I usually do a detailed pencil sketch with lots of notes then either colored pencil or watercolor.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPollinator moth visiting while I was painting. This slender annual can be 1-4 ‘ tall.  The long slender seed pods ripen in the summer and the adult plant dies. They have noted that the seed can remain dormant for many years until just the right conditions exist for it to germinate in the fall.

Tired after hiking in and hours of drawing, I came upon John Nichols repairing the path, who offered a welcome ride back.

Now that’s service!

Twistflower Darkened
Braced Twistflower  Watercolor by Lotus McElfish

My original watercolor is specimen #10, painted at actual size.

   Learn, Give Thought, Be Inspired, Take Action……Bring Back Balance

Lotus McElfish                                                                    

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