Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Not spring but fall

with 10 comments

Click for greater clarity.

This may look like the kind of dense floral display Texas is famous for in the spring, but the photograph dates from October 5, when I found a few acres on E. Oltorf St. largely covered with bitterweed, Helenium amarum var. amarum, whose flowers provide the bright yellow so conspicuous in today’s photograph. (The last time you saw that species was during its first appearance in this blog, where it served as a backdrop to some snow-on-the-mountain.)

The land shown here seems to have been overgrazed or otherwise abused, and that lack of care likely led to the taking over of the field by several native species that specialize in encroachment. One of those, in addition to bitterweed, is the honey mesquite tree, Prosopis glandulosa, some very young ones of which you see in the center of the picture. This marks that species’ debut in these pages.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 19, 2012 at 6:18 AM

10 Responses

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  1. A lovely farewell tribute to summer. ~Lynda


    October 19, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    • Even now, two weeks later, afternoon temperatures here are still in the 80s, which in many parts of the country would definitely count as summer.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 19, 2012 at 10:43 AM

      • And here we are, adding blankets, donning sweaters and jackets, and facing the ever mounting leaf pile! Sometimes I forget what it was like to live in the west/southwest… I heard a rumor that we will have some 80 degree weather next week too. My poor plants will be so confused.


        October 19, 2012 at 1:58 PM

  2. The yellow of the bitterweed en masse really makes this photo pretty.


    October 19, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    • I was certainly taken with it. I’d caught a glimpse of the yellow when I was on my way home the previous day, but I went back the next morning and spent a good hour there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 19, 2012 at 1:41 PM

  3. So pretty! And I always enjoy a glimpse of mesquite. There’s still a good bit of it around here, especially along abandoned railway tracks and such.

    Every time you mention certain species’ tendency to encroach on disturbed land, I laugh. I imagine them plotting, late at night. We think we’re hearing leaves rustling, but those really are whispers: “If we make a run for it, we can get past that fence before daylight!”


    October 19, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    • That’s an imaginative (and imaginary) personification of the plants conspiring to get in. I wish I could have done the same. The field shown in today’s picture was surrounded on all sides by a barbed wire fence, so I couldn’t get to the places where I would have preferred to take pictures. Instead, I had to aim through or over the wires in the fence from wherever I could get a clear shot.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 19, 2012 at 10:07 PM

  4. […] today’s picture you’ll notice more patches of the dense bitterweed that predominated in yesterday’s photograph. Like that one, today’s dates from October 5 at a field on E. Oltorf St. in southeast […]

  5. […] during the same session that produced the recent pictures of wolly croton and a katydid. Note the bitterweed flowers in the background and the young mesquite trees at the upper left and in the […]

  6. […] don’t read field guides. In contrast to today’s closeup of a late-blooming flower head, a post from October of 2012 showed a large and densely flowering colony of […]

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