Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for January 16th, 2013

Acting like an epiphyte

with 13 comments

A post about ball moss last November mentioned that an epiphyte is a plant that regularly grows on another plant or an object for physical support but isn’t a parasite of its host. Another example of an “air plant” is the Spanish moss that appeared in these pages on March 1, 2012.

Occasionally a plant that isn’t inherently an epiphyte can act like one, as you see in this photograph of a prickly pear cactus, Opuntia engelmannii, that had somehow taken root in the cleft of a venerable live oak tree, Quercus fusiformis, a good 10 or 12 feet above the ground. I should add that this specimen is an atypical cactus in a second way: like a prickly pear that I showed last year at the edge of a cliff, this one’s pads were growing primarily downward.

As was true for yesterday’s picture, this one dates from August 31, 2012, at the Doeskin Ranch, a nature preserve in Burnet County about an hour northwest of Austin. And no, I didn’t climb the tree to photograph the cactus: the prickly pear looks closer than it was because I used a telephoto lens while keeping my feet prudently on the ground. I’m afraid my days of tree climbing are decades in the past.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 16, 2013 at 6:10 AM

%d bloggers like this: