Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for June 2012

Two phases together

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In May and June you saw several photographs of Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheels or Indian blankets, in various stages of development. One stage I didn’t show you was as a bud beginning to open into a flower head. Today’s picture, taken on April 20 in St. Edward’s Park in northwest Austin, makes up for that omission, and it has the advantage of contrasting an opening bud with a fully open flower head close behind it.

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The daily posts that you’ve become accustomed to will continue while I’m away from Austin. Feel free to comment if you’d like, but please be aware that it may be a while before I can respond.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 30, 2012 at 5:54 AM

Not the aurora

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No, not the Aurora borealis but Mimosa borealis, a shrub known as pink mimosa and fragrant mimosa, both of which are accurate descriptions of the plant’s flowers. I photographed this one in my northwest Austin neighborhood on March 26. To get a clear shot of the mimosa I had to lie on the ground and be careful to avoid a nearby cactus and some scattered nettles: all in a day’s work for a nature photographer in Texas.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

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The daily posts that you’ve become accustomed to will continue while I’m away from Austin. Feel free to comment if you’d like, but please be aware that it may be a while before I can respond.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 29, 2012 at 1:35 PM

Fringed puccoon

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Here’s another wildflower taking its first bow in this column, Lithospermum incisum, known as fringed puccoon. I made this photograph on a visit to Kathy Comer’s property in Williamson County on March 17. The only other local wildflower I can think of that’s as crinkled, though in quite a different way, is the white prickly poppy.

Fringed puccoon grows over large parts of North America, as you can confirm on the state-clickable map at the USDA website.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

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The daily posts that you’ve become accustomed to will continue while I’m away from Austin. Feel free to comment if you like, but please be aware that I may not be able to answer for a while.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 29, 2012 at 6:08 AM

Contortion

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Here’s an austere change of pace. On January 26 of this year, as I walked through the lower portion of Allen Park in north-central Austin, I came across this small and strangely contorted stalk. Because it was dried out and had no leaves or fruit attached, I didn’t have any clues to the kind of plant it was from, nor do I know what caused it to grow in such an unusual way. I do know that I was fascinated by its bending and was happy to take pictures of it.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

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The daily posts that you’ve become accustomed to will continue while I’m away from Austin. Feel free to comment if you like, but please be aware that I may not be able to answer for a while.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 28, 2012 at 5:01 AM

I was hardly golden groundsel’s only visitor, but one who lived to tell of it

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When I photographed some of the plants in a colony of golden groundsel, Packera obovata, in northwest Austin on March 6, I noticed that one of them had been serving as a spider’s hideout. This picture is a reminder, if you haven’t thought about it recently, that spiders are messy housekeepers.

As a bonus, you get a better view than in the last picture of golden groundsel’s buds and their long yellow “fingers.” (You’d expect no less of a digital—and etymological—photographer, would you?)

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The daily posts that you’ve become accustomed to will continue while I’m away from Austin. Feel free to comment if you’d like, but please be aware that it may be a while before I can respond.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 27, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Golden groundsel

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An early spring wildflower in central Texas—and one that you haven’t seen here till now—is golden groundsel, Packera obovata. This plant was part of a colony of them that I photographed in northwest Austin on March 6. You can make out the indistinct form of another groundsel plant in the background to the left.

Hot (it’s June in Texas) on the roots of March’s bit of etymology about huisache, I’ll add that the English wordgroundsel looks like it has something to do with the word ground. Speakers of Old English were influenced enough by the ancestor of ground that they added an r to the original form of the plant’s name, which was gundeswilge; the first part meant pus, and the second is semi-recognizable as the forerunner of the modern word swallow.  The American Heritage Dictionary notes that a type of groundsel had been used to reduce abscesses, a process that the Anglo-Saxons expressed imaginatively as “swallowing pus.”

To see a state-clickable map of the many places in North America where this species grows, even if it doesn’t swallow any pus, you can visit the USDA website.

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The daily posts that you’ve become accustomed to will continue while I’m away from Austin. Feel free to comment if you’d like, but please be aware that it may be a while before I can respond.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 27, 2012 at 6:03 AM

Prairie brazoria

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Here’s a moody picture of still another native wildflower you haven’t seen in these pages till now: it’s Warnockia (or Brazoria) scutellarioides, a member of the mint family known as prairie brazoria. I photographed this one on April 9 not on the prairie but in my Great Hills neighborhood in northwest Austin. The complementary daub of yellow in the background is from our old friend the four-nerve daisy, Tetraneuris linearifolia.

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Posted on this day last year: an upward look at a pennant dragonfly against a clear blue sky.

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The daily posts that you’ve become accustomed to will continue while I’m away from Austin. Feel free to comment if you’d like, but please be aware that it may be a while before I can respond.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 26, 2012 at 5:33 AM

Stars, they come and go

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When Texas yellow star, Lindheimera texana, goes to seed and dries out, it leaves behind “starry” remains that look like those of no other sunflower family relative in our area, as today’s photograph makes clear.

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The daily (and occasionally twice daily) posts that you’ve become accustomed to will continue while I’m away from Austin. Feel free to comment if you’d like, but please be aware that it may be a while before I can respond.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 25, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Texas yellow star

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The current flag of Texas and Texas state seal include a white, five-pointed star, but in 1836 the first national flag of the Republic of Texas had a yellow five-pointed star on it. That accords with the wildflower shown here, Lindheimera texana, known not coincidentally as Texas star, Texas yellow star, and also, though starlessly, a Lindheimer daisy. While most daisies have varying numbers of rays, this species always has five.

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Posted on this date last year: a different yellowness, that of a gorgeous colony of sunflowers on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin. The folded-down ray on one of the sunflowers was most likely the handiwork of a spider.

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The daily posts that you’ve become accustomed to will continue while I’m away from Austin. Feel free to comment if you’d like, but please be aware that it may be a while before I can respond.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 25, 2012 at 5:59 AM

Black and white in color

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When is black and white not black and white? One time is in this photograph, which I took with my camera in normal color mode and which I did not convert after the fact to black and white. I used a shutter speed of 1/640 sec. to freeze most of the motion in this temporarily turbulent branch of Bull Creek in my northwestern Austin neighborhood on January 26. Notice how at this split second a bubbling wall of water stood up from the surface of the creek at the base of the small waterfall you can glimpse in the upper left.

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The daily posts that you’ve become accustomed to will continue while I’m away from Austin. Feel free to comment if you like, but please be aware that it may be a while before I can respond.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 24, 2012 at 5:37 AM

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