Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

From Whole Foods to Central Market: Ketchup, mustard, water, and a grackle

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Grackle with Ketchup and Mustard 6414

The last time you saw a grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus, it was one I photographed on the ground outside the Gateway Whole Foods on June 29th. On September 21st I found myself sitting on the patio behind the Central Market on N. Lamar, where I saw more grackles than on the visit to Whole Foods. At one point a woman at a nearby table stood up and walked away to get something, and within seconds this grackle flew in to see what it could find to eat. Bold birds, these grackles.

In case you’re wondering whether this was a one-legged grackle, it wasn’t. The bird’s left foot was in the tray, whose rim blocked it from view at this angle, just as part of the bird’s right leg concealed part of its left.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 6, 2015 at 5:09 AM

Been two years since you saw any clammyweed here

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Clammyweed Flowering 6165

Clammyweed = Polanisia dodecandra ssp. trachysperma.

Date = September 16.

Place = Right-of-way beneath the power lines west of Morado Circle in Austin’s (and my) Great Hills neighborhood.

© = 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 5, 2015 at 4:52 AM

Roots of a large bald cypress tree along Onion Creek in southeast Austin on September 20

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Bald Cypress Roots 6304

Click for larger size and greater detail.

Bald cypress = Taxodium distichum.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 4, 2015 at 4:42 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Prairie agalinis in front of Texas lantana

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Prairie Agalinis Flower by Lantana Flowers 5062

After a far and then a somewhat nearer look last time at prairie agalinis, Agalinis heterophylla, here’s an even closer look at a flower of that species. Note its speckled throat and the fringe of tiny hairs on its petals. This time there are no partridge peas in the background but instead a flowering Texas lantana, Lantana urticoides. Today’s view is from September 14th in the Blunn Creek Preserve in south Austin.

Two weeks ago I learned that botanists have moved the genus Agalinis from the figwort family, Scrophulariaceae, into a family with a scientific name I don’t remember having heard of, Orobanchaceae, known as the broomrape family. Live and learn (and if you’re in the world of botany, relearn and relearn and relearn…).

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 3, 2015 at 4:50 AM

One scene, two takes

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From my inaugural time photographing along the Copperfield Nature Trail in northeast Austin on September 22nd come these two photographs of a typically autumnal landscape in this part of Texas. Both images feature the pink flowers of prairie agalinis (Agalinis heterophylla) and the yellow ones of partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata).

The first picture is what we might call a conventional view of the scene, and as a bonus you get to see a wall of giant ragweed plants (Ambrosia trifida) behind the flowers. The second picture shows the same scene from closer up. This more-abstract image has a few of the prairie agalinis flowers and buds in sharp focus against a larger number of out-of-focus partridge pea plants, whose fresh and wilting flowers my camera’s lens turned into amorphous yellow and orange lights while also turning a few of the more-distant agalinis flowers into featureless pink patches.

Same time, same place, same plants, same photographer, same camera and lens pointed in the same direction—yet such different views.


Prairie Agalinis, Partridge Pea, Giant Ragweed 6781A


Prairie Agalinis Flowers by Partridge Pea Flowers 6807A

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 2, 2015 at 4:55 AM

Halberdleaf rosemallow

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Halberdleaf Rosemallow Flower Base 2290

On August 26th I photographed this halberdleaf rosemallow flower, Hibiscus laevis, that had been planted alongside the pond behind the Central Market on North Lamar (the same place that yielded the recently shown photograph of a dragonfly on a horsetail). This species of mallow is native in various parts of east Texas and grows as close to Austin as two counties away.

After two days of poison ivy, I expect today’s post will come as a relief to many of you.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 1, 2015 at 5:36 AM

On rare occasions 3 = 5.

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Poison Ivy with Five Leaflets 6189

“Leaves of three, let it be,” goes an old adage that’s meant to guide people away from the three “leaves” of poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicans. I put “leaves” in quotation marks because, technically speaking, poison ivy has compound leaves, each of which is normally made up of three leaflets; those three leaflets together comprise one (and only one) leaf.

Now for the word normally in that last sentence: a poison ivy leaf almost always produces three leaflets, but once in a rare while it produces five, as you can confirm in today’s photograph taken in Great Hills Park on April 27th. The picture you saw yesterday of a poison ivy vine climbing a rough-barked tree reminded me of my earlier sighting, which I’d meant to report to you but had forgotten about, so here it is now.

In case you’re wondering, the other leaves on this poison ivy plant had their normal complement of three leaflets.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 30, 2015 at 5:29 AM


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