Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A silverpuff puffball

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Silverpuff Puffball 2381

If you’re wondering why the reluctant-to-open flower head you saw last time is called silverpuff, it’s because when Chaptalia texana goes to seed it turns into the kind of puffball you see here. This photograph is from October 31, 2014, along the River Place Nature Trail.

The light in the shade of the trees—which is where this little wildflower tends to grow—was low enough to force a wide aperture in the camera lens, which meant that not much of the picture would be in focus. I chose to keep parts near the center sharp, so everything around them in this abstract view is soft and impressiony.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 6, 2015 at 5:08 AM

Silverpuff nodding

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Silverpuff Flower Head Nodding 2287

Chaptalia texana used to be known as Chaptalia nutans. The former species name means ‘nodding,’ and nod is what the flower heads of this little wildflower, known as silverpuff, tend to do. They also often don’t open very much, so what you see here may have been about as close to open as this flower head was going to get.

Today’s photograph is from March 5, 2012, on the property of native plant promoters Pat and Dale Bulla in northwest Austin.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 5, 2015 at 5:28 AM

Cedar elms with ice

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Cedar Elms with Ice on Them 3009

On March 4 of 2014 I braved the cold and went to Great Hills Park to photograph some ice-covered plants, including these cedar elms, Ulmus crassifolia. Like the recently shown picture of a snow-covered live oak, this photograph is in color, though you could easily mistake it for a (brown-toned) black and white.

For many of you up north this won’t be an unusual sight, but it’s a rarity in Austin and that’s why I made myself go out to see what I could record.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 4, 2015 at 4:59 AM

Prairie fleabane daisies

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Prairie Fleabane Buds Opening by Open Flower Heads 0788

From March 3, 2013, in Bastrop State Park, here are some prairie fleabane daisy buds, Erigeron modestus, that were opening near some already open flower heads of the same species.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 3, 2015 at 4:51 AM

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Dense tasajillo

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Dense Tasajillo Cactus 0632

Also at McKinney Falls State Park on March 1, 2013, I found this densely branching tasajillo cactus, Cylindropuntia leptocaulis. The combination of red and green has led some people to call this a Christmas cactus, while the slenderness of the joints has led others to call it a pencil cactus.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 2, 2015 at 5:42 AM

Seemingly animated dead tree

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Dead Tree Seemingly Animated 0520

On March 1 of 2013 I visited McKinney Falls State Park, where in the winter woods I saw this tree that, though clearly dark and dead, seemed to me quite animated.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 1, 2015 at 5:26 AM

A different sort of raft

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Sycamore Seed Ball Remains on Raft of Bubbles 2170A

Click for greater clarity.


Géricault had his Raft of the Medusa, and I have my Raft of the Platanus. His was made of wood, mine of bubbles (but if you want wood, just let the sycamore seeds that you see here take root and grow for a decade or two). Géricault’s raft was in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa, mine near the edge of a pond in northwest Austin. He painted his in 1818–19, I photographed mine on February 28, 2014.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 28, 2015 at 5:48 AM


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