Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for February 10th, 2012

A seasonal reddening

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And let’s continue with the color red from this morning, but in the form it takes when it visits not the spines but the pads of the prickly pear, Opuntia engelmannii, that has been a recent subject here. A post in the second week of this blog, in June of 2011, showed patterns on the surface of a prickly pear pad that I found growing in St. Edward’s Park in northwest Austin. On January 17 of this year I walked through the park again and found a differently colored version of what I’d seen before. Possibly due to a freeze toward the end of last year, this pad had turned the shades of red that you see. It looked to me as if the cactus wouldn’t survive a lot longer, but prickly pears are tough, and for all I know this one might still be around for a long time.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 10, 2012 at 12:38 PM

Orwell that ends well

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“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

No, Eric Blair took that one a long time ago. Try again.

“It was a partly cloudy morning in February, and the thermometer was registering sixty-ten.”

Yes, that’s a much better way to describe the end of my photo foray along the west side of Mopac on the first day of this month. (If thirteen is a quaint way for a clock to chime one in the afternoon, sixty-ten is the curious way that the French say seventy, which was indeed the temperature when I returned to my car around 10:30. That afternoon the high was four-twenties-two, another charming French expression for the record-setting 82°.)

The last thing I photographed as I walked back to my car that morning was the first one I noticed after I’d parked: a yaupon with lots of fruit on it. This type of shrub or small tree, which has the great scientific name Ilex vomitoria, is close kin to the possumhaw, Ilex decidua, that you saw most recently playing host to a mockingbird. While the possumhaw loses its leaves in the winter, the yaupon retains them; the tiny red fruits of the two look the same, though it can be harder to see them on the yaupon because the tree’s leaves block parts of the view.

For more information about yaupons, and to see the many places in the Southeast where they grow, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 10, 2012 at 5:44 AM

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