Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for August 1st, 2011

Where the coreopsis stood

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Mexican hats and snow-on-the-mountain; click for more detail.

Early one recent morning I posted a photograph of a dense colony of coreopsis as it had appeared in the rain-rich spring of 2010. Made curious by my own post, a few hours later I drove up to Brushy Creek Lake Park to see what the site of that fabulous colony was looking like in this year of the Great Drought. I found almost no coreopsis, and the few flowers I did find were small. But where that once-mighty colony had been, and even farther afield, standing tall and green I found a slew of Euphorbia marginata, probably more than I’ve ever seen on one expanse of ground. They’re the plants shown here, whose leaves tend to rise into positions that are close to parallel to the stalks they spring from. At this stage their green belies the popular name snow-on-the-mountain; within a month or two, though, these plants will produce bracts conspicuously fringed with white—and that’s the “snow” of the popular name. I’ll go back to this location in late August or September, and if no one has cut the plants down I’ll report on what they look like when they’re all brightly bracted.

To take this picture on July 26, I lay on the ground and raised my head and camera up at an oblique angle. It was hard to get a traditional orientation, but this tilted view, unorthodox though it may be, gives the dynamic feel of what I saw from that strange position. Notice that flowering beneath the snow-on-the-mountain plants were two Mexican hats (Ratibida columnifera). That species, though making its first appearance in this blog, showed no sign all through the spring of being hindered by lack of rain, and flourished in many places around town; it has now mostly wound down for the season, but a few plants keep flowering here and there.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 1, 2011 at 6:03 AM

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