Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Wispy paloverde tree

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Paloverde Tree Flowering 1221

This post’s title is redundant because paloverde trees, Parkinsonia aculeata, are wispy by nature. I took this picture of one near BMC Drive in Cedar Park* last year on August 5th. Now it’s the final day in August this year and I’m still seeing paloverde flowers here and there around town.

Fresh petals and old coexist in this cheery closeup from June 3rd near Seton Center Drive:

Paloverde Flowers Close 4767

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* Cedar Park is a large suburb on the north side of Austin. When I moved to Austin in 1976, Cedar Park had about 2,000 inhabitants. The estimated population now is 65,000 and the town is still growing at a good clip.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 31, 2015 at 5:38 AM

Posted in nature photography

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First rain-lilies of the second season

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Rain-Lily by Pond 2323

Rain-lilies appear here in the spring and then again toward the end of summer and into the fall. After two months of drought we finally had a bit of rain on August 20th, and four days later I began seeing a few rain-lilies along the expressway called Mopac. On August 26th at the pond behind Central Market on North Lamar I photographed this Cooperia drummondii, which I almost missed because it was the one and only rain-lily there.

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I’m still backed up with pictures from June and July but don’t want current images to fall too far behind, so I’ve been alternating between older and more-recent photographs.

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UPDATE: I’ve corrected a misidentification in a post from two weeks ago about Bastrop.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 30, 2015 at 5:16 AM

A better look at partridge pea when it isn’t yellow or green

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Partridge Pea Plant Turned Red with Cumulus Clouds 1199

And here’s a look at a red partridge pea plant, Chamaecrista fasciculata, in isolation against the sky and cumulus clouds above the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on July 16th.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, point 24 in About My Techniques applies to this photograph.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 29, 2015 at 5:20 AM

Three stages and colors of partridge pea

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Partridge Pea Amid Dry Grasses on the Blackland Prairie 1321

The flowers of partridge pea, Chamaecrista fasciculata, are yellow, and of course the plant’s greenery is normally green. One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that while most plants turn brown as they dry out, partridge pea has a tendency to turn red. You can see all of those partridge pea colors here among the breeze-blown dry grasses on a surviving (so far) parcel of the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on July 16th.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 28, 2015 at 5:31 AM

Bluebell flower near some partridge peas that were also flowering

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Bluebell Flower by Partridge Pea Flowers 5715

In a recent post that used a picture from 2014 I mentioned my late-in-the-season find this year of a few bluebells, Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum. The flowers were down low, close to a creek or pond adjacent to the Costco in Cedar Park, a little bit of nature I’d been meaning to explore photographically for some time but finally got around to checking out. In fact I ended up photographing there three times in August, with this view being from my visit on the 11th of the month. The yellow in the background came from some flowers of partridge pea, Chamaecrista fasciculata.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 27, 2015 at 5:33 AM

H. H.

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Heron Flying Low Over Lake 1728

On the same August 23rd outing to Meadow Lake Park in Round Rock that led me to the D.D., or dense dodder, I photographed this H.H, or handsome heron, flying low over the lake. My subject appears to be the largest of the white herons in Texas, the great egret, Ardea alba, where alba means ‘white’ (think of albumen and albino).

I haven’t had much success with pictures of an individual bird on the wing, but this one strikes me as not too bad. For the technocrats among you, I’ll add that I panned with a shutter speed of 1/800 sec. to freeze the bird’s motion and used a high enough ISO to yield an aperture of f/16 that would keep the heron sharp in case the focus was a bit off.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 26, 2015 at 5:00 AM

D. D.

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Dense Dodder on Annual Sumpweed 1811

The D.D. in the title stands for dense dodder, but you don’t have to be dense to wonder what sort of strange thing dodder is: it’s the common name for any of various species that make up the genus Cuscuta in the morning-glory family. Like better-known morning-glories, dodder is a vine, but unlike its family-mates dodder is parasitic, and that difference until recently had botanists putting dodder into a family of its own, Cuscutaceae. Dodder’s parasitic nature explains why the only greenery you see close to the ground in these tangled mounds of yellow-orange capellini (angel-hair pasta) belongs to the plants being parasitized, in this case annual sumpweed, Iva annua.

I found and photographed these plants two days ago at Meadow Lake Park on the Blackland Prairie in eastern Round Rock, where from inside my car I spotted the conspicuous dodder tangles hundreds of feet away and waded through a sea of sumpweed to take this and various other pictures.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 25, 2015 at 5:21 AM

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