Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Kelly Hamby Nature Trail

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On October 6th, Linda Leinen drove Eve and me from League City to a rendezvous with Shannon Westveer and her husband Scott at the Kelly Hamby Nature Trail on the south shore of the peninsula that’s just across the bridge from the west end of Galveston Island. It was the first meeting for the three of us with the two of them, and we all sang Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Getting to Know You” (okay, so we didn’t actually do that). In this post you’ll see three times two of the things we found on the beach.

Beach evening-primrose flower, Oenothera drummondii

Gulf croton, Croton punctatus

Beach morning-glory, Ipomoea imperati

A plant in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae

A colorfully banded shell

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 19, 2019 at 6:05 PM

Light and dark in Galveston County

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As you saw a couple of posts ago, on October 4th we went on a field trip to a property in Galveston County managed by the Marathon Oil Company. The visit produced these two moody portraits showing the opening bud on a green milkweed, Asclepias viridis, that we found growing there. I can’t help thinking of side and front views on a prison rap sheet, only here it’s native plants that are wanted.

The contrast between white and black stood out in this growth on a fallen and decaying pine trunk:

Dark and light characterized the seed head remains of a brown-eyed susan, Rudbeckia hirta:

On a much larger scale, a venerable tree (perhaps an ash) at another property on the field trip also intrigued me with its interplay of light and shadow as well as the hollowed-out part of its trunk:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 18, 2019 at 4:48 AM

Again a bird and Niagara Falls without the falls

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On July 25th we stayed on the American side of Niagara Falls late enough to get a colorful sky while walking back to our car. And so ends the series of pictures from our visit to Niagara Falls.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 16, 2019 at 4:43 AM

Yellow beneath the pines

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As part of the Native Plant Society of Texas’s annual symposium in League City, on October 4th I joined a field trip to a property in Galveston County managed by the Marathon Oil Company. There I found some seaside goldenrod, Solidago sempervirens, whose buds were opening. Parallel rows of pine trees in the background formed a convenient frame. Well, actually not so convenient, as I had to get down and contort myself to line up the goldenrod properly while struggling to keep everything vertical.

Also growing near the pines were some swamp sunflowers, Helianthus angustifolius:

How about an artsier portrait that shows a swamp sunflower bud beginning to open?

Neither of these species grows in Austin, so both were new to me.
Here’s one of the goldenrods that a pine needle cluster had fallen onto:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 14, 2019 at 4:47 AM

Not many people at Niagara Falls

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Okay, so this post’s title is misleading; in fact hordes of tourists were at Niagara Falls when we visited on July 25th. Nevertheless, not many people at Niagara Falls photograph the plants there, but you could count on me to get a few botanical pictures. The first one shows swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium). In the second photo you’re seeing fruit clusters on a staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina).

Thanks to horticulturalists at the New York State Parks Department for identifying the species of the milkweed and the sumac. I didn’t ask them to try to figure out the identity of the tree whose remains you see standing below; perhaps it was another sumac.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 12, 2019 at 4:36 AM

Another new species for me

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On the bank of Bull Creek in St. Edward’s Park on September 26th I came across a plant with small flower heads (maybe a third of an inch across) that I didn’t recognize. I could tell that it clearly belonged to the sunflower family, and that was all. Not knowing what it was didn’t keep me from taking some pictures, helped along by intermittent sunlight filtering through the treetops and reaching the plant.

After I got home I started going down the Asteraceae section of Bill Carr’s Travis County plant list, looking on the Internet for pictures of each species I wasn’t familiar with to see if I could make a match. Fortunately I didn’t have to go too far down the list, as the plant turned out to be Bidens frondosa. According to a Wikipedia article, “its many common names include devil’s beggarticks, devil’s-pitchfork, devil’s bootjack, sticktights, bur marigold, pitchfork weed, tickseed sunflower, leafy beggarticks, and common beggar-ticks.” Those names allude to the plant’s fruit, which I haven’t yet seen. The USDA map shows this species growing in the 48 contiguous American states except Montana.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 10, 2019 at 4:38 AM

Two gulls at Niagara Falls on July 25th

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I took the first picture from the Canadian side in the morning and the second from the American side near sundown, each time with the lens zoomed to its maximum focal length of 400mm. Both birds spoke to me. Take that figuratively and you’re all right; believe it literally and you’re gullible.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 8, 2019 at 4:44 PM

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