Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for February 25th, 2012

And another sort of visitor

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Click for greater clarity.

When I photographed some of the Texas mountain laurels, Sophora secundiflora, at the Mueller Greenway on February 19, I noticed that the most common insects visiting the flowers were honeybees. We’re used to thinking of them as major pollinators, which they are, but they—along with most of our commercial crops—were brought over to the Americas by Spanish, French, British, and other European settlers in colonial times. In contrast, the butterfly that’s prominent in this photograph is a native, Vanessa cardui, known as the painted lady. I assume the upside down position made it easier for this butterfly to get its tongue into the flower it was on.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 25, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Possumhaw revisited

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Possumhaw; click for greater detail.

As you first saw in these pages about two months ago, one of the colorful joys of winter in central Texas is the fruit of the possumhaw, Ilex decidua. Now that the end of February has arrived, some of the possumhaws are beginning to leaf out again, and that’s what you see in this picture that I took on today’s date in 2011. Once the leaves come out, the bright red fruit will fall off and not be replaced till late in the fall or early winter (assuming that birds haven’t already eaten it all, which I’ve seen happen).

Another thing you’ll notice toward the lower right in this photograph is Tillandsia recurvata, or ball moss. It’s an epiphyte, a type of plant that lives on another for support but that isn’t parasitic on its host; the ball moss gets what moisture and nutrients it needs from the rain and the air.

For more information about Ilex decidua, and to see a state-clickable map of the places in the southeastern United States where this tree grows, you can visit the USDA website. Likewise for Tillandsia recurvata. For those of you interested in photography as a craft, points 3, 5 and especially 8 in About My Techniques are relevant to today’s picture: flash fill revealed the textures on the undersides of the branches and the ball moss, which otherwise would have been lost in shadows.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 25, 2012 at 5:32 AM

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