Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Spectacle pod

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Spectacle Pod Flowers 0149

Here’s a plant in the mustard family, Dimorphocarpa wislizeni, that’s commonly known as spectacle pod because of the curiously shaped little seed capsules it produces. I got acquainted with this species on September 23rd at Petroglyph National Monument in northwest Albuquerque. Apparently an insect had gotten acquainted with a few of the petals before me.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 16, 2014 at 5:31 AM

20 minutes later

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Afternoon Clouds over the Sandia Mountains 0408

This post is coming to you 20 minutes after the last one because it shows the clouds I saw over the Sandia Mountains 20 minutes later than the ones in the previous post.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 15, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Sandia Mountains in the afternoon

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Afternoon Clouds over the Sandia Mountains 0405

Each of the three mornings that we spent in Albuquerque dawned with the clear sky that people strongly associate with the Southwest, but each afternoon saw a buildup of impressive cumulus clouds over the Sandia Mountains to the east of the city. Especially after yesterday’s post about sand sagebrush you might think the name of those mountains has something to do with sand or sandy, but that’s not the case: sandía is the Spanish word for watermelon.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 15, 2014 at 5:40 AM

Sand sagebrush

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Sand Sagebrush Plant 0333

As I drove west on Interstate 40 toward Albuquerque, I began to notice occurrences of a grayish-green plant that seemed to grow in a distinctively scraggly way. At Petroglyph National Monument on September 23rd I learned that the plant is sand sagebrush, Artemisia filifolia. At your respiratory peril I’ll tell you that plants in the genus Artemisia are wind-pollinated, just like their cousins in the genus Ambrosia, i.e. ragweeds.

To see the places in the (mostly) west-central United States where sand sagebrush grows, you can check out the USDA map.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 14, 2014 at 5:30 AM

Once again, I hope you can tell this isn’t Austin

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Orange-Brown Rock Formations on US 160 in Northern Arizona 1541

When I began showing pictures from a trip to the Texas Panhandle in April, I entitled the first post “I hope you can tell this isn’t Austin.” Now it’s not even Texas. No, I photographed these sandstone formations along US 160 in northern Arizona on September 27th, about a third of the way into a 3300-mile trip that began with an overnight stay with our friends in Lubbock and went on to include three nights in Albuquerque, two in Durango, and three apiece in Phoenix and Tucson. Of course it was the days between those nights that most interested me because then I was free to do my photographic thing—or actually things, lots of them.

When we returned to Austin on October 4th I found the place in full fall mode botanically (though not in terms of climate, because afternoon temperatures stayed stuck in the low 90s for the next seven days). I’ve already giddily (and alas allergenically and chiggerly and fire-ant-ily) charged back in to local nature photography. I’d like to post some of those central Texas pictures before they get too dated, so beginning today I’ll show perhaps a dozen trip pictures and then mix more-recent images from Austin’s autumn into the continuing selection from the Great American West. I hope you won’t get see-sick later this month from looking at photographs that bounce back and forth between the two realms, but variety is the spice (and in this blog the species) of life.

Bouncing back to the picture in today’s post, let me add that I had trouble getting the views I wanted because not only was the land fenced off, but also electric wires and poles cut across the site in several places. I zoomed and angled my way past the obstacles the best I could.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 13, 2014 at 5:20 AM

The formidable ferocity of a funnel fiend found

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Funnel Web Spider 0086A

When I wander about in nature I often see funnel webs close to the ground, but only occasionally is the web builder in evidence. July 29th on a sumpy piece of the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin was one of those times.

Funnel weavers are in the Agelenidae, but I can’t tell you what the genus of this spider is (perhaps Agelenopsis).

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 12, 2014 at 5:37 AM


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Frog Fruit Flowers Atop Long Column 4022

This flower-topped column of frogfruit, Phyla nodiflora, is an advanced stage that began with a ring of flowers down near the stem on a small core that was initially globular. As that core slowly grew into a longer and longer cylinder, a new ring of tiny white flowers replaced each previous one, and the remains of all those successive floral rings bedeck the narrow column. If you’d like to see an early stage in the process and also get a better look at some of the individual flowers, you’re welcome to check out a post from two years ago.

Date: August 21.  Location: the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin.

To see the many places across the United States where this species grows, you can check the USDA map.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 11, 2014 at 5:42 AM


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