Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Silver and gold on a block on the west side of Mopac

with 16 comments

Click for greater size and clarity.

Mopac is the name of an increasingly clogged expressway that runs north-south on the west side of Austin. In most places there’s a parallel access road, including a stretch near North Hills Drive whose margin happens to be home to some native plants. I spent a little time there on October 19 and managed to get two for the price of one, so to speak. The obvious subject, and one that I never seem to tire of, is Clematis drummondii, this time partly in a late phase in which some of the vine’s feathery, seed-bearing strands were already coming undone from the core that had held them. The yellow-orange in the background is from a wildflower that has also made its appearance here several times, Viguiera dentata, known because of its color as goldeneye.

For those of you who are interested in nature photography as a craft, points 1, 2, 5, 6, 15 and 16 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 18, 2012 at 6:17 AM

16 Responses

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  1. A lovely photo – and the green leaves add so much. Most of the time the leaves are just “there” in wildflower photos, but they certainly make their presence felt in this one.


    November 18, 2012 at 7:48 AM

    • Thanks for appreciating and commenting on those green leaves, which differentiate this photograph from many others I’ve taken of this intriguing species and its swirly seed heads. I’d thought of mentioning the leaves in my text but ended up not doing it, so it’s good to have you add your observation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 18, 2012 at 8:28 AM

  2. I wonder why this one hasn’t been introduced into the nursery trade. It is so beautiful when it is in its “feathery” stage…I’ve never found it to be a “garden bully”.

    Agnes Plutino

    November 18, 2012 at 8:39 AM

    • You know that I’m with you when it comes to this species. Perhaps the fact that as a vine it will climb over and cover other plants has kept it out of the nursery trade. Fortunately, I see “old man’s beard” in so many places around central Texas, and from late spring through late fall, that anyone who wants some could gather seeds pretty easily.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 18, 2012 at 8:51 AM

  3. That is one beautiful picture. I think the vine in some places is called goat’s beard as a short easy version. I have wanted for a long time to find some with seed but I have yet to see any locally. It might be here and I just have not been at the right place and time.


    November 18, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    • Thank you. I haven’t heard or seen goat’s beard applied to this species, but it wouldn’t surprise me, for whom old man’s beard is the usual colloquial name. Good luck in your search for some local plants with seeds. They’re plentiful around Austin, if you want to venture a hundred miles or so south.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 18, 2012 at 9:59 AM

  4. That is a wonderful image!


    November 18, 2012 at 11:45 PM

  5. Silver hair of the clematis seeds have fascinated me many times, here is a longer story of a clematis in my garden, flowering as the last one
    In the discussion under the post are other examples of such hairy seeds, as this pasqueflower (pulsatilla vulgaris): http://andrzej.dabrowka.com/s24/088sasanka-6.jpg

    Andrzej Dąbrówka

    November 19, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    • As you know, I share your fascination with the genus Clematis. I wasn’t familiar with Pulsatilla vulgaris, which is a European species, but I looked it up and found it’s in the same buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, as the Clematis. Your picture certainly could fool me into thinking it’s a Clematis.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 19, 2012 at 6:06 PM

  6. I love the juxtaposition of two textures in this photo – the cloud of seed strands in the foreground – the solid yellow of the flower background. Effective and so lovely.

    Mary Mageau

    November 19, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    • I’m glad that you appreciate the “architecture” of this photograph, and I like your phrase “the cloud of seed strands.” All these native Texas plants must be a novel thing for you in Australia.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 19, 2012 at 9:01 PM

  7. I always love coming over here. This clematis is a particular beauty–not surprising you don’t tire of it. Nor will I, not with wonderful photos like this.

    Susan Scheid

    November 20, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    • Thanks so much, S.S. I’m always happy to have you browsing here, just as I’m happy to be able to browse (photographically) on the plants that are native in this area.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 20, 2012 at 9:16 PM

  8. It is interesting to learn of genera that are shared between different countries. This is also a native genus in Australia, where we have species Clematis aristata, C. glycinoides. They are often called Old Man’s Beards. Clematis fawcettii is a less common rainforest species that only grows in the far north of NSW, and is listed on the Threatened Species Act.


    November 30, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    • One of my guidebooks says that there are some 300 species of Clematis around the world in northern temperate regions, southern temperate regions, and tropical African mountains. I’m glad to hear you’ve got some native species in Australia. In the United States the vernacular name old man’s beard is also in use; in Texas it applies to the species shown here, Clematis drummondii. Last year I showed a picture of it looking even more beard-like.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 30, 2012 at 9:53 PM

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