Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Texas red oak leaf

with 39 comments

Portion of a Texas red oak leaf; click for greater sharpness and detail.

Now you know why Texas red oak is called Texas red oak.

When I wandered along the trail in Balcones District Park on January 13th, my eyes were caught several times by some oak trees, Quercus buckleyi, that hadn’t grown very tall yet. They still had some leaves on them, and to varying degrees those leaves were turning colors that appeared all the more saturated when illuminated from behind by the late afternoon sun, as you see here. (With this photograph it’s important to click to see a properly sharp version.)

I don’t know if I’ve ever noticed the leaves of this species lasting so far into January, but I’m certainly happy that now I can tell you not only about fall color in central Texas, most reliably seen in our flameleaf sumacs, but also about the winter color provided, even if on a small scale this year, by Texas red oaks.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 17, 2012 at 5:05 AM

39 Responses

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  1. It looks like the map for a Texas subdivision. 🙂 Very pretty, Steve.



    January 17, 2012 at 5:14 AM

  2. What a fantastic image!


    January 17, 2012 at 5:41 AM

  3. Love the details. Great macro!

    The Background Story

    January 17, 2012 at 5:42 AM

  4. This is gorgeous, and I think it is very like the arterial structure in our hands. Did you ever see Body Worlds? ~ Lynda

    ***Don’t view this if you are squeamish!***

    Arterial structure of the hand: http://www.bodyworlds.com/en/media/picture_database/preview.html?id=3


    January 17, 2012 at 7:06 AM

    • Thanks, Lynda. I was aware of Body Worlds, which I believe stopped in Austin, but I never went to visit it. I can see why today’s picture reminded you of it.

      It’s curious, isn’t it, that the hemoglobin molecule that makes blood red differs in only one atom from the chlorophyll that makes leaves (usually) green?

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 17, 2012 at 7:21 AM

      • I didn’t know that! Thank you for sharing, and yes, it is very curious. ~ L


        January 17, 2012 at 7:41 AM

      • I repeated what I’d heard for years, and in checking I see that the gist of it is true, but I need to refine what I wrote. Apparently it’s the central portions of the two molecules that differ by just one atom. The article at


        says: “The basic structure of a chlorophyll molecule is a porphyrin ring, co-ordinated to a central atom. This is very similar in structure to the heme group found in hemoglobin, except that in heme the central atom is iron, whereas in chlorophyll it is magnesium.”

        Steve Schwartzman

        January 17, 2012 at 7:52 AM

  5. I look at this and I see fractals!

    Bonnie Michelle

    January 17, 2012 at 7:33 AM

  6. It is everything mentioned by the other comments – but its best attribute? It’s red! my favorite color. 🙂


    January 17, 2012 at 7:51 AM

    • My childhood friend Roy Halliday, who liked (and still likes) to play around with paradoxes and absurdities, once came up with the idea of starting a paint company. He was going to call it The Red Paint Company, and its motto was going to be “Red Paint comes in all colors.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 17, 2012 at 7:56 AM

  7. The colors here are absolutely mouthwatering!


    January 17, 2012 at 8:34 AM

  8. I love that you can still see these where you live… we are currently blanketed in white:)

    Just A Smidgen

    January 17, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    • It’s 68° here at 9 in the morning today!

      But each place has its advantages. I rarely get the chance to do pictures with snow or ice.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 17, 2012 at 9:10 AM

  9. Beautiful shot! Vibrant colours, great technique, love the shapes created by the veining. Nice!!


    January 17, 2012 at 11:35 AM

  10. You will not be the least bit surprised to know that the red oak behind our house was one of the main points that made us buy the place. The others being the two post oaks out front and the pair of Bradford pears, front and back . . . well, yes, we liked the house too, but without the trees we’d never have even looked at it.

    Beautiful macro and color capture. Somewhere in my files is a shot very similar to this of a maple leaf. Plant vascular systems are *so* exquisite!


    January 17, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    • Good for you that you have some red oaks outside your house: I have to drive to see any.

      I’m with you in finding plant vascular systems exquisite. The photographs I post here are reduced to about half a megapixel, but my current originals, even after cropping, typically have at least 20 times that number of pixels. I mention that because the full version of today’s picture is so much more detailed than what I show here. (Unfortunately most of us photographers have to keep our pictures small to try to prevent them from being pirated. I’ve noticed that some photographers post images considerably smaller than mine, but I want to give enough detail for viewers to have something worth seeing.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 17, 2012 at 1:50 PM

  11. you have a great eye. that is stunning.


    January 17, 2012 at 2:25 PM

  12. Wow fantastic color and detail Steve.Stunning! I wish the Red Oaks around here would take on that color.


    January 17, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    • Maybe you can take some of yours, David, and send them down here to get lessons from some of ours.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 17, 2012 at 2:54 PM

  13. Oh, that is lovely. Maybe yours will come give a tutorial to ours!


    January 17, 2012 at 6:24 PM

  14. […] This photograph comes from the same January 13 outing in Balcones District Park that brought you the detailed view of a Texas red oak leaf. […]

  15. Beautiful color and the lines. Leaves have the best texture, don’t they? Great photo. 🙂

    Really enjoying your photography, esp., the titles!


    January 23, 2012 at 9:09 AM

  16. A stunner shot! Especially when my eyes exposed to the exquisite color & details in this shot : )


    January 23, 2012 at 2:37 PM

  17. […] term seasonal leaf color. Examples that you’ve seen so far have been the leaves of rattan, Texas red oak, cedar elm, flameleaf sumac, and even poison ivy. Cometh now a native grass that botanists call […]

  18. […] Quercus buckleyi. If you’d like to see a closeup of a leaf of that species you can check out a post from 2012, and if you’d like to see a new leaf of that species in the spring you can visit a post from […]

  19. Oh, that’s gorgeous!!


    December 30, 2020 at 3:36 PM

    • It is, and the backlighting contributed to the color saturation. There’s so much to see when you take a close look.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 30, 2020 at 3:59 PM

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