Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Lush maidenhair ferns

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Maidenhair Ferns 2889

Because of the ample rain this spring, some of the maidenhair ferns in Great Hills Park have been thriving. It was April 13th when I saw this group of Adiantum capillus-veneris* on a steep embankment of the main creek that flows through the park.

The dark curve making its way across the lower part of the picture marks the water line, so the little patches of green below the line are reflections on the water’s surface of some of the fern leaves above.


* The Latin species name capillus-veneris means ‘hair of Venus’ (think capillary).

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 24, 2015 at 5:35 AM

Greenthread bud

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Greenthread Bud by Flower Head 2959

Last time you heard that the yellow flower head a checkered white butterfly was on is called greenthread because of the plant’s green, thread-like leaves. You still can’t see the leaves of Thelesperma filifolium here, but you can get a good look at the way the buds of this species typically nod. You can also see the characteristic “prongs” at the base of the bud, which persist behind the flower head after it opens.

Today’s photograph once again comes from the edge of U.S. 183 near Loop 360 on April 13th.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 23, 2015 at 5:27 AM

Checkered white butterfly

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Checkered White Butterfly on Greenthread Flower Head 3272

Some people are said to have a checkered past, and the butterfly that entomologists call Pontia protodice is said to be a checkered white. The yellow flower head that this one is on is called greenthread because of its green and thread-like leaves (which aren’t visible in this photograph). Over a year ago I showed a picture of the butterfly known as the common checkered skipper, but this is the first appearance here for the checkered white.

Today’s photograph is from April 13th on the edge of U.S. 183 near Loop 360.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 22, 2015 at 5:39 AM

Yellow wood-sorrel flower opening

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Yellow Wood-Sorrel Flower Opening 9512A

Continuing with the color theme from last time, here you see the flower of a yellow wood-sorrel, Oxalis dillenii, beginning to open near a couple of the plant’s shamrock-like leaves (which your imagination can extrapolate into a featureless green butterfly if it chooses). Today’s abstract-leaning photograph is from the preserve behind the Austin Nature Center on March 23rd.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 21, 2015 at 5:06 AM

A better look at yellow stonecrop

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Yellow Stonecrop Flowering with Funnel Web 1046

The last photograph gave you an overview of a Texas Hill Country wildflower meadow that featured a colony of yellow stonecrop, Sedum nuttallianum. On May 13th I went back to the undeveloped area along Yaupon Dr. and managed to put in just a few minutes of picture taking before a drizzle began that soon forced me to stop. It was just as well that I quit when I was still near my car, because a little later the drizzle turned into real rain.

Some things to observe in this downward-looking photograph:

The yellow stonecrop had noticeably advanced in its flowering compared to the view from a week earlier. If you’re wondering about size, an individual flower is about a quarter of an inch (6 mm) across.

Where the dark ground is visible through the stonecrop, you can more easily make out the tiny drizzle drops in the broad funnel web that covers two-thirds of the low plants shown here.

Peer carefully into the web’s dark funnel and you can make out the spider lurking in there. If you want a better look at a funnel web spider, you’re welcome to check out one from 2012 and an even closer one from last October.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 20, 2015 at 5:26 AM

Great Hills wildflower display #3

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Yellow Stonecrop Colony with Other Wildflowers 0125A

As you saw in the last two posts, the undeveloped land along Yaupon Dr. where the big power lines stretch east and west has been flourishing this spring, so at the risk of wearing you out, here’s one more look at a Great Hills wildflower meadow. In this May 6th view, pride of place—literally, in terms of the greatest area covered—goes to yellow stonecrop, Sedum nuttallianum, the yellow-green colony of which hugs the ground as it stretches across the meadow from the photograph’s lower left to its upper right (and curves back down a bit). Once again the conspicuously red flower heads with yellow fringes are Indian blankets, Gaillardia pulchella, and the small yellow ones are four-nerve daisies, Tetraneuris linearifolia. The violet-colored flowers in the foreground are prairie verbenas, Glandularia bipinnatifida, and the dry grass arc-ing out in various directions is purple three-awn, Aristida purpurea. As before, there’s prickly pear cactus, Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri, and limestone rocks.

On the technical side, I’ll add that I took this picture with my lens zoomed out to its widest setting of 24 mm. I moved the camera around until I liked the way the elements filled the viewfinder, even though that meant the camera wasn’t parallel to the ground in any dimension. Call it artistic license.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 19, 2015 at 5:32 AM

Great Hills wildflower display #2

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Wildflower Meadow with Prickly Pear 0700

As you saw last time, the undeveloped land along Yaupon Dr. where the heavy-duty power lines stretch east and west has been so rich in wildflowers this spring that you deserve another look. Once again the small yellow flower heads are four-nerve daisies (Tetraneuris linearifolia); the predominantly red ones with yellow fringes are Indian blankets (Gaillardia pulchella); the ones with smaller reddish-brown centers and more yellow on the rays are coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria). The plant at the left with dark brown pods hanging down is Lindheimer’s senna (Senna lindheimeri). As before, there’s prickly pear cactus (Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri), including one pad with a big circle missing from it.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 18, 2015 at 5:18 AM


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