Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Rock-cress flowers and buds

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Arabis petiolaris Flowers by Texas Groundsel Flowers 2546

A native plant that I don’t often encounter and that has appeared in these pages only once (when it was well past its flowering stage, at that) is Arabis petiolaris, known as rock-cress or Brazos rock-cress. Here you see the flowers and buds atop one of these ever-erect plants along FM 1431 north of Kingsland in the Texas Hill Country on April 7th. The softly appealing yellow beyond the rock-cress in this mostly downward-looking view came from some Texas groundsel, Senecio ampullaceus, that was flowering closer to the ground.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 25, 2015 at 5:35 AM

Better than fish in a barrel

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A little over a year ago I mentioned that the expression “like shooting fish in a barrel” has never appealed to me. I expect shooting those fish is supposed to be easy because they’re trapped in the barrel and can’t swim away, but wouldn’t the bullets smash the barrel to pieces and allow water (and fish) to spill out all over the place? Hmm. No, if I want to indicate that something is easy I’ll say it’s like shooting wildflowers in Texas. That’s how I felt on April 7th when I spent hours in the Texas Hill Country reveling in the abundant spring wildflowers I found along mile after mile of highway. Today’s post and the ones for the next week will show you some of that day’s flowery abundance.

Let’s begin with this view from TX 71 west of Austin, which records a colony of pink evening primroses, Oenothera speciosa. There’s that speciosa again, meaning ‘showy, look-worthy’ in Latin.

Pink Evening Primrose Colony 1684

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 24, 2015 at 5:07 AM

Wild geranium

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Wild Geranium Flower 9922

Here’s a little wildflower that’s never appeared in these pages before: Geranium carolinianum, known as wild geranium. When I say it’s a little wildflower I’m not kidding, because flowers of this species are only about a quarter of an inch across (roughly 6 mm for you of the metric persuasion). Although this geranium flower was pristine, if you look closely you’ll see that something had chomped a few bits out of the plant’s greenery.

This picture comes from Bartholomew Park along E. 51st St. on March 27th. That was the same outing that produced the pictures of the huisache and redbud trees that were the subjects of the last three posts.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 23, 2015 at 5:38 AM

A redbud tree’s new leaf

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New Redbud Tree Leaf 0028A

A few posts back you saw a redbud tree that was already beginning to leaf out on March 27th but whose blossoms were still the attention-getters. On the same outing along E. 51st St. I found a couple of smaller redbud trees, Cercis canadensis, growing in relative isolation and flowerlessness. I noticed that their new leaves looked particularly attractive with the sunlight coming through them, and although having the sun in front of me made photographing the leaves difficult because of the frequent artifacts of light produced in the camera’s lens, I took up the challenge. Here’s one of the abstract pictures that came out of my attempts. In seeing the curve of the leaf’s lobe and the very dark, mostly vertical shaft that widens as it goes down, I’m reminded of a harp.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 22, 2015 at 5:50 AM

A close look at some huisache flower globes

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Huisache Flowers Close 0181A

Click for better clarity.

In contrast to the last view of a huisache, Acacia farnesiana, with a galaxy of flowers spread across it, here’s a close look at a few of the tree’s little flower globes. The typical diameter of a fully formed globe is from one-quarter to three-eighths of an inch (6mm–9mm). The flowers are very fragrant, but I still haven’t found a way to send you the scent over the Internet.

Like the previous picture, this one is from E. 51st St. on March 27th.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 21, 2015 at 12:51 PM

Huisache tree flowering away

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Huisache Tree Flowering 9868

The yellow-orange that you saw peeking through from beyond the pink redbud blossoms in yesterday’s March 27th photograph came not from the developing leaves of the redbud (which were there, though inconspicuous) but from the flowers on a huisache* tree, Acacia farnesiana, that loomed over the redbud. The combination of the two types of flowers, different in color and form, is what caught my attention.

There are perhaps a dozen huisache trees along E. 51st St., and I was glad to see them flowering on March 27th because late freezes (or something else) in the early spring of 2014 had kept all the huisaches in Austin from blooming last year. Huisaches typically grow tall and wide, so the thousands of flowers you see in this photograph were on a single tree.

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* The Spanish word huisache is pronounced somewhat like we-sah-chay would be in English, with stress on the middle syllable.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 21, 2015 at 5:21 AM

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Redbud tree blossoms

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Redbud Tree Blossoming by Huisache 9900

When I was working along E. 51st St. on March 27th I photographed this redbud tree, Cercis canadensis, that was just beginning to leaf out but still had plenty of attractive blossoms on it.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 20, 2015 at 5:18 AM

Posted in nature photography

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