Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for July 1st, 2011

Texas thistle

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Texas thistle, Cirsium texanum.

Fugitive foxes and armadillos notwithstanding, I won’t stand you up and leave you without a picture today.

With white gradually shading into pink and magenta over the five posts showing clammyweed and the rain-lily, it seems color-appropriate to continue with the Texas thistle. Though the prime time for the species is the printemps, or spring, as the French say, some of these hardy thistles have continued to bloom in the heat of this year’s early summer. I photographed this one in mid-June on the prairie that survives in a thankfully still-undeveloped portion of Austin’s former Mueller Airport. Note that this thistle asserted its individuality: its stem bends and slants, its green bracts tilt a little to one side, and its crown of magenta disk flowers leans overall a bit to the other. Notice also that the flower stalk is so downy it appears a light grayish-green. Like some other members of the sunflower family, the Texas thistle has no ray flowers.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

(For more information about the Texas thistle, including a clickable map showing where it grows, you can visit the USDA website.)

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 1, 2011 at 4:37 PM

The 2 + 3 = 5 that got away

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What? A pictureless post in a column on photography? Yes, it’s true. Yesterday morning, you see, I went out to take pictures as I so often do. I chose a place I hadn’t visited in several years, one that had had and turned out to still have dried milkweed vine pods hanging from the trees. I set my heavy camera bag down and was looking at the scene around me when suddenly out of the nearby underbrush came a fox. I’d heard people say there are foxes in Austin, though I’d never seen one. What luck! And no sooner had the fox come out than a second one followed it! But before I even had a chance to take my camera out of the camera bag both foxes ambled down an embankment and out of sight.

And there’s more. Late that afternoon, when I walked out of my garage to drop a letter in the mailbox across the street, I found three young armadillos rooting about in the ground adjacent to the driveway. They showed no fear of me at all, letting me walk right up to them. I quickly went into the house and grabbed my camera, but by the time I got back outside all I could see was the tail end of the last armadillo disappearing under my neighbor’s backyard fence.

So call me zero for five for mammals yesterday, but I did get some good plant pictures in the morning, and a few of those will make their way into this column in the days ahead. (Update: the picture posted on July 23 is one of those compensations.)

© (though why bother?) 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 1, 2011 at 6:51 AM

Posted in animals

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