Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for March 30th, 2012

Bush sunflower from behind

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Click for greater clarity.

The bright yellow bush sunflower in the previous post, which I photographed on March 11 on Great Northern Blvd. in north-central Austin, might pass for a regular sunflower when seen from above, but the view from the side or below can show a reddish-brown coloring that Simsia calva doesn’t share with its much more familiar relative. Like the common sunflower, this is a hairy plant, as you clearly see here. While the common sunflower can be found just about everywhere, the bush sunflower grows natively in Mexico and, within the United States, only in Texas and New Mexico.

For those interested in photography as a craft, points 1, 3, 4, and 8 in About My Techniques are relevant to this image.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 30, 2012 at 1:37 PM

What is this?

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“What is this?” That’s what I repeatedly asked myself on March 11 on Great Northern Blvd. as I kept seeing more and more of these flowers. My first thought was some kind of goldeneye, but the only Viguiera in Bill Carr’s Travis County plant list is Viguiera dentata, which wasn’t this (in spite of the fact that some goldeneyes in Austin, which normally fade in December, had miraculously maintained a few flowers through the winter and well into March).

After I got home I did some checking and comparing and finally realized I’d photographed a native plant I’d been seeing for a decade in Marshall Enquist’s Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country and wondering year after year when I’d ever encounter one. But 2012 has been a crazy year, and I’d finally come across bunches of what turned out to be the long-sought bush sunflower. The familiar sunflower is Helianthus annuus, but the bush sunflower isn’t even in the same genus: it’s Simsia calva. Happy new for me, and happy sunflowers in March for all of us.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 30, 2012 at 5:26 AM

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