Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for October 2012

That long and slender stem

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The last post mentioned that cucumberleaf sunflowers, Helianthus debilis ssp. cucumerifolius, grow at the ends of long, slender stalks. Here’s a closeup of one. Sometimes those stalks are mostly straight, but at other times they curve, as you see here. The conspicuously folded ray, presumably the work of a spider, appealed to me.

Like the colony you saw last time, I photographed this flower head on October 1st at the intersection of Vargas Rd. and US 183 in southeast Austin. I happened to pass by there again yesterday and can report that the cucumberleaf sunflower colony is still flowering merrily away at the very end of October.

For those of you who are interested in photography as a craft, points 1, 3, 7, 14 and 18 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 31, 2012 at 6:18 AM

A different kind of sunflower

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If you compare this picture to the many you’ve seen here of common sunflowers, Helianthus annuus, and Maximilian sunflowers, Helianthus maximiliani, you may be able to tell that these are a different species. They’re called cucumberleaf sunflowers, and they have the long scientific name Helianthus debilis ssp. cucumerifolius. And speaking of long, can you make out the long and very slender stalks that these flower heads grow on? That characteristic is one way, in addition to these plants’ leaves, to distinguish this species from the other two, which are more widespread and much more familiar to most people.

I photographed this cucumberleaf sunflower colony on October 1st at the intersection of Vargas Rd. and US 183 in southeast Austin. That was four weeks ago, but I assure you that there are still plenty of sunflowers of all three Helianthus species in Austin, with the Maximilians currently predominating.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 30, 2012 at 6:11 AM

Pavonia mallow

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On the October 15th walk through Great Hills Park that brought you yesterday’s green-dominated picture of mosses and ferns, I also photographed this Pavonia lasiopetala, which is variously known as rock rose, rose pavonia, rose mallow, and pavonia mallow. Its flowers are typically 1–1.25 inches (25–32 mm) across.

In the United States this species is found only in Texas, and then only in a few of its counties, of which I’m glad that Travis (which includes Austin) is one.

Just as small palafoxia made its début a few days ago, rose pavonia makes its first appearance in these pages today.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 29, 2012 at 6:12 AM

Green and green on limestone

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Just a few hundred yards from the place where I took the previous post’s picture of a black vulture on a street light, but in such a different world, I photographed these ferns and mosses on a limestone cliff along the main creek that flows through Great Hills Park. The date was October 15.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 28, 2012 at 6:11 AM

Black vulture

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October 8.

Cloudy morning.

Floral Park Dr.

A minute by car from home.

The arm of a street light.

Two black vultures.

Coragyps atratus.

Got home.

Grabbed camera bag.

Put on telephoto lens.

Drove right back.

Vultures still there.

Took pictures.

This is one.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 27, 2012 at 6:13 AM

Small palafoxia

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Here’s a little wildflower you haven’t seen in this blog till now: Palafoxia callosa, called small palafoxia. On October 10th I found this opening flower head adjacent to the goldeneye that appeared in the last post and that has offered up its color but none of its form as the background for today’s picture.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 26, 2012 at 6:15 AM

Goldeneye returns

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Around the corner from the kidneywood, the tan fungus, and the pearl milkweed that you’ve seen in the last few posts, I spent some time photographing the flowers of this goldeneye, Viguiera dentata, on the overcast morning of October 10. In the two weeks since then, I’ve seen abundant goldeneye flowers in various parts of Austin.

This species typically begins flowering in late summer and keeps on through the first freeze of winter, but long-time visitors to this blog may remember that Austin didn’t really have a winter in 2011-2012, and that goldeneye flowers could be seen as late as April before the heat finally convinced most of these plants to relent. Now the flowers are back at their usual time.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 25, 2012 at 6:05 AM

Pearl milkweed flower

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Also within sight of the kidneywood and the tan fungus that I photographed in my neighborhood on the damp morning of October 10 was this flower of a pearl milkweed vine, Matelea reticulata. There are relatively few green flowers in the world, and far fewer (are there even any others?) that have what looks like a tiny pearl at their center, but this little wildflower, only about 2/3 of an inch across, fits the bill on both counts.

Marshall Enquist’s Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country gives the bloom period for the pearl milkweed vine as April to July, but an October photographer can be forgiven for quoting yet again the adage that plants don’t read field guides.

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WordPress says that this is post number 600 in Portraits of Wildflowers. That’s 2 x 2 x 2 x 3 x 5 x 5. Woo woo, let’s hear it for numbers!

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© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 24, 2012 at 6:09 AM

Tan fungus

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Within sight of the kidneywood that I photographed in my neighborhood on October 10 was this tan fungus growing on a broken-off piece of dead branch. I’d have thought that the patterned side of the fungus would be facing the branch, but that tells you how little I know about such things.

For those of you who are interested in photography as a craft, points 1, 2, 4, 8 and 19 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 23, 2012 at 6:18 AM

From bottom to top

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In some plant species, the buds in a spike open into flowers at the end of the spike first and proceed toward the base. For other species the reverse is true. In the previous post, which showed you some kidneywood flowers, you may have noticed that a few of the flowers near the base looked as if they were just beginning to turn yellow and wilt, while those above were fresh. The implication is that kidneywood buds begin opening at the base of the spike and proceed upwards, and this new picture that shows partly open buds above fully open flowers is evidence of it.

While making that point, I’ve given you the bonus of a Mitoura grynea, known as a juniper hairstreak or olive hairstreak butterfly. Notice how the false antennae at the butterfly’s rear act as a decoy: better to lose a chunk of hind wing to a predator and still be able to fly away than to have your head bitten off.

This photograph is from September 6 in the Bull Creek greenbelt.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 22, 2012 at 6:14 AM

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