Portraits of Wildflowers

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Archive for March 25th, 2012

In memoriam: huisache

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I used to live on the east side of Austin, slightly north of what was then Mueller Airport. Behind a convenience store across the street from the airport’s northern boundary was an undeveloped lot, and it was there that the colors of a flowering huisache first caught my attention. It was a venerable tree, one of those with several large trunks that leaned so far outward from the center that they became horizontal and then in several places arced downward somewhat.

In December of 2000, when Austin had one of its rare ice storms, the weight of the accumulated ice bent the huisache’s branches much farther down, even onto the ground:

Click for greater size and detail.

The picture makes it look as if the storm destroyed the tree, but it rebounded after the ice melted, and by the time spring came the huisache looked (and smelled) like its normal self, all covered with yellow-orange puffballs.

Now come forward from December 13, 2000, to March 23, 2012: inspired by all the other huisaches I’d noticed flowering around Austin this spring—two of which you’ve seen here recently—I drove over to my old neighborhood. First I photographed some huisaches that I was aware of that had soon grown up on the old airport property when it was left to itself after the new airport opened; yes, these are fast-growing trees. Then I pushed on to the convenience store, where I was suddenly saddened to see that the property behind it is now a construction site, and a building is springing up where my huisache had sprung up years earlier. An ice storm didn’t kill the tree, but development did.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 25, 2012 at 5:45 AM

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