Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for February 18th, 2012

Like a beast with his horn

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Click for greater clarity.

In spite of the way things look in this picture from March of 2011, the drought hadn’t reached anything close to its later severity. The plant depicted (in small part) is an agave, Agave americana, and most of its leaves were still green; it’s normal for an agave’s older, lower leaves to gradually die and dry up, and that’s what you see here. I found the rippling texture of this dry leaf more interesting than the features of its still-living fellows, so I took close photographs of several parts of it. When I saw the results later I couldn’t help thinking of a phrase from one of Leonard Cohen’s best-known songs: “like a beast with his horn.” And crossing that line from the plant to the animal kingdom, I seem to see an eye on the left side of this would-be reptilian scene: another case of a vivid imagination.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 18, 2012 at 1:02 PM

Tetraneuris linearifolia

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Back in the fall you saw a photograph of a four-nerve daisy bud as it was beginning to open. That picture showed Tetraneuris scaposa, one of two similar species that share the vernacular name. Because of the mild winter we’ve had in central Texas, both species seem never to have gone completely away as 2011 passed warmly into 2012. Now we’re in February, which normally marks the beginning (but far from the peak) of both flowers’ bloom period, so I’ve been happy and not at all surprised to see increasing numbers of these daisies with diminutive flower heads usually only a bit more than half an inch in diameter. I know that the one shown here was Tetraneuris linearifolia because I observed its leaves, which are different from those of the other species. Notice the tiny insect that happened to be on this flower head when I photographed it on Valentine’s Day along River Place Rd. in far northwest Austin.

For more information, and to see a state-clickable map of the places where this species grows, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 18, 2012 at 5:46 AM

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