Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Bushy bluestem

with 28 comments

Bushy bluestem; click for greater sharpness.

On the heels (bracts? roots? stems?) of the last post I’ll add that along with Mexican devilweed and many another member of the sunflower family, as well as cattails and sycamores, our native grasses also produce varying amounts of fluff when they go to seed. Most prominent among them in central Texas is the aptly named bushy bluestem, Andropogon glomeratus, which reaches its warm (in color) and fuzzy (in texture) peak toward the end of the calendar year or even early in the new one. This close-up is from January 3 at the Riata Trace Pond in northwest Austin. While I was at the pond I watched for a time as occasional gusts of wind blew away tufts of the seed-bearing fluff.

For more information about this wet-ground-loving grass, including a state-clickable map showing the many places in the United States where it grows, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 16, 2012 at 5:14 AM

28 Responses

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  1. I particularly enjoy the ‘abstract’ qualities of this image:the colour harmony and nuance of shades; the contrasting textures; the dynamic lines; the effective use of depth of field etc. I like it – a lot!

    Louis

    January 16, 2012 at 5:45 AM

  2. Prolific! Or is it all show and few grow? ~ Lynda

    pixilated2

    January 16, 2012 at 6:19 AM

    • I like your rhyming phrase “all show and few grow,” but in this case the species is prolific. When I go to places with moist ground I often find bushy bluestem growing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 16, 2012 at 8:04 AM

  3. Almost looks as though it is cloaked in fog!

    Bonnie Michelle

    January 16, 2012 at 7:47 AM

  4. Beautiful shot!!

    JuanitasPhotoBox

    January 16, 2012 at 8:25 AM

  5. That is a gracious plenty!

    Dawn

    January 16, 2012 at 8:31 AM

  6. I love Bushy Bluestem. It usually starts blooming here around October. I have a 1-gallon pot that I started from seed last year, that I hope to plant out this year, if I can get me a bog garden made.

    Jay

    January 16, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    • I’m glad to hear from someone who likes this grass as much as I do. Good luck with your planting.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 16, 2012 at 11:05 AM

  7. I absolutely love this photograph. It is a bit of an abstract, but the sharpness throughout your DOF gives it a 3D effect. Outstanding!

    P.S. Thanks for visiting my blog. It gave me a chance to check yours out and I like what I see. 🙂

    Bob Zeller

    January 16, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    • I’m pleased that you like it: I’m big on abstractions and patterns. I’ll give most of the sharpness credit to my Canon 100mm macro lens, but a few people think I’m a pretty sharp guy too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 16, 2012 at 11:21 AM

  8. Wow Steve! I like everything about this photo. I could go on and on about the sharpness, detail, contrast between the wispy seeds and the blades of grass, color, etc, but I won’t. I just like it. Well done!!!

    dhphotosite

    January 16, 2012 at 2:27 PM

  9. A very abstract looking image; love the softness of the fluff against the solid lines of the grass. Cool!!

    Steve

    January 16, 2012 at 2:53 PM

  10. Wonderful shot Steve. I love the way you’ve filled the frame.

    edithlevyphotography

    January 16, 2012 at 3:10 PM

  11. Do you know if any native birds use this plant in any way? It would seem a winner for nests, though at this time of year not many are likely involved in that activity. Is it edible? It’s a wonderful plant.

    weisserwatercolours

    January 16, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    • I found an article in the Bandera Courier that says: “Additionally, bushy bluestem benefits wildlife, providing seeds for birds, white-tailed deer and rabbits. In the spring, the grass also provides cover for birds and fawns.” As far as I know it’s not edible for people, but livestock supposedly can eat the young grass when it’s green.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 16, 2012 at 8:30 PM

  12. I’m looking forward to putting in a fair collection of prairie grasses as I revise our yard into something more native and drought-resistant–but given its preference for wet soil, I think this beauty won’t be among them! However, I gather that Little Bluestem is tougher and it’s certainly native here in NTX and very attractive, so that may be the plant of choice from that family. Much remains to be seen!

    kathryningrid

    January 17, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    • Little bluestem is a good choice. Here in Austin it grows in a variety of conditions, and as you point out, it’s native up there too. It turns warm colors at the end of the year, and in late 2010 I looked closely and noticed that slender parts of it can even take on very bright colors.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 17, 2012 at 1:59 PM

  13. It’s a rare grass shot : )

    firasz

    January 23, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    • Bushy bluestem is a wonderful native grass. I never get tired of seeing it at the end of the year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2012 at 5:18 PM

  14. […] the three. The predominantly vertical brown strokes are the dried out remains of last year’s bushy bluestem, Andropogon glomeratus, a native grass that turns wonderfully fluffy when it goes to seed in the […]


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