Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Purple isn’t always purple

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White Liatris Flower Spike by Broomweed Flowers 4733

Although most flower spikes of Liatris mucronata are purple, it’s not that unusual to see an occasional white one. I photographed this white gayfeather spike east of Interstate 35 in the town of Buda on October 8th. By now you may recognize that the many yellow wildflowers in the background are broomweed, Amphiachyris dracunculoides.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 31, 2014 at 5:25 AM

Spikes aren’t always spiky

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Liatris Flowers Close 5157

Yesterday’s picture of a colony of Liatris mucronata shows that most plants of this species produce long and relatively slender spikes of flowers. In some cases, though, they develop bulges, as you see here. I don’t know what causes portions of some blazing-star spikes to deviate from their usual slenderness.

Like the previous photograph, today’s comes from east of Interstate 35 in the town of Buda on October 8th.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 30, 2014 at 5:44 AM

Let there be Liatris

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Liatris Colony by Pond 4643

Tipped off by my friends David and Jolyn about the biggest colonies of Liatris mucronata they’d probably ever seen, on October 7th and again on October 8th I went a bit east of Interstate 35 in Buda to see those enormous stands of the wildflower known as blazing-star and gayfeather. This view is from the still-cloudy morning of my second visit. What you see here is part of one colony, and if you gaze out onto the slope at the upper right you can make out the faint (because distant) purple of another large Liatris colony that I also hiked over to.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 29, 2014 at 5:44 AM

Multitudinous

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Dense Broomweed Flowers 4203

Here’s a closer look at the small but multitudinous flower heads of broomweed, Amphiachyris dracunculoides, which you saw en masse several posts ago. All the little flower heads shown here—and others that you can’t see—are from a single plant. This October 7th view is once again from Andrews Crossing at Windy Hills Rd. in Kyle, a fast-growing suburb south of Austin.

Stay tuned tomorrow for purple multitudes.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 28, 2014 at 5:49 AM

Extra, extra, read all about it—it being Texas

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I just found out that for a limited time the Texas State Historical Association is giving away free digital downloads of the 2014–15 Texas Almanac. In this Texas-sized (752-pages) book you’ll learn, if you didn’t already know, that pecan pie was named the state pie by the 83rd Legislature in 2013; that the monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus,

Monarch Butterfly on Rain-Lily 4145

Click to enlarge.

was designated the state insect by the 74th Legislature in 1995; and that Texas purple sage, Leucophyllum frutescens,

Cenizo Flowering with Wispy Clouds 3620

Click to enlarge.

was designated the state native shrub by the 79th Legislature in 2005. You can also confirm that, according to the 41st Legislature in 1930, the word Texas, or Tejas, was the Spanish pronunciation of a Caddo Indian word meaning ‘friends’ or ‘allies'; and that Texas is by far the state with the most land in farms (130,400,000 acres). And while we’re talking about land, did you know that in the Compromise of 1850 Texas gave up territory that now forms portions of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming?

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 27, 2014 at 5:35 AM

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A closer look at goldenrod

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Goldenrod Flowering 4288A

As the title says, here’s a closer look at goldenrod, Solidago spp. Don’t the flowers look happy?

This October 7th view is once again from Andrews Crossing at Windy Hills Rd. in Kyle, a fast-growing suburb south of Austin. The little pink flowers in the background are prairie agalinis.

Over the three weeks since I took this picture many of the goldenrod plants in central Texas have gradually been fading, with a few already having gone to seed and turning fluffy.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 26, 2014 at 5:34 AM

Fields turned yellow

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Field of Broomweed and Goldenrod Flowering 4177

It’s not unusual in central Texas to see fields turned yellow in autumn with broomweed, Amphiachyris dracunculoides, and goldenrod, Solidago spp. This October 7th view of that combination is from Andrews Crossing at Windy Hills Rd. in Kyle, a fast-growing town south of Austin (and a childhood home of the writer Katherine Anne Porter).

You may recall that you had a close look at an individual broomweed flower head a few weeks ago.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 25, 2014 at 5:43 AM

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