Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A late dose of changing leaf color

with 14 comments

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When I was in Great Hills Park two days ago, on January 18th, the cedar sage flowers I found were way out of their normal season. A bit late, but not much, was this leaf of a rattan vine, Berchemia scandens, a species whose leaves normally finish turning yellow and orange here by late December or early January. I saw only a few of these leaves, but I was fortunate to find the little group that this one was a part of in a place where I could take pictures with the sunlight coming from behind the leaf.* In addition, I was taken with the way the leaf was framed between the part of the slender rattan vine it was attached to and another one immediately to its right.

If you’d like to see what a lot of rattan leaves look like when they’re all turning color at the same time, and also to learn more about this vine, you can take a trip back to a post from a year ago.


* Coincidentally, this location was only about 100 ft. from the spot where I aimed in the same direction and photographed a similar translucence in the dewlap of an anole lizard last year.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 20, 2013 at 6:16 AM

14 Responses

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  1. I too have noticed a few of these anomalies here-abouts. Little surprises to put a smile on your face through the season. Though I think the never ending rain, and the sudden freezing temps will have put a certain end to them now.

    This is a perfect photograph. The lighting, colors, even the little webbing at the base of the leaf’s stem all make it lovely. Were you to make a calendar this would definitely have to be a consideration. Good morning!


    January 20, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    • Good morning to you too, Lynda, and a sunny one it is in Austin. That looks nice, but we could use more of the rain that you say has come your way. Thanks for letting me know that you find this picture especially appealing and calendar-worthy.

      The rattan leaves didn’t put on as good a show this winter as in some recent ones, so I thought I wasn’t going to get any pictures of them this year, but then I was happily surprised to see a few in the sunlight the other day. I should have mentioned that these were small leaves, most of them not much more than an inch long; at this stage, even touching them lightly usually makes them drop off, as some of them did while I took pictures. No question that they were ready to go.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 20, 2013 at 8:45 AM

  2. Belle luminosité, un peu d’or réchauffe le coeur. Lynda a raison Steve, si tu regroupais toutes les photos de feuilles que tu as faites, cela ferait un très beau calendrier


    January 20, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    • Je crois que cet or lumineux est plus important maintenant pour les coeurs gelés de ceux qui habitent une région vraiment hivernale. Ici il fait beau, il fait du soleil, cet après-midi la température sera 20°C.

      Moi aussi j’ai pensé à faire un calendrier. On verra.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 20, 2013 at 9:41 AM

  3. I like the yellow color of the leaf. I have not heard of rattan vine. I’ll look that one up. Nice photo.


    January 20, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    • Rattan is common in the woods of northwest Austin, including my neighborhood nature park, Great Hills Park. This woody vine is strong enough to strangle trees, but the photograph shows it in an early and still slender stage.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 20, 2013 at 1:03 PM

  4. Another little jewel.


    January 20, 2013 at 7:13 PM

  5. I love the name “supplejack”, and I was interested to see that this plant isn’t related to the rattans used in furniture-making. It looks a little rough, rather like an elm leaf. It’s very pretty, and beautifully framed between the two vines.


    January 20, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    • This vine can wind itself around a tree, and that may be what motivated the supple in supplejack, but its texture is hard and woody, which doesn’t suggest suppleness to me. In fact that woodiness may explain how the name rattan came to be applied to this species, based on the other rattan from which furniture is made. In any case, I’m glad the “wooden” frame appealed to you as much as it did to me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 20, 2013 at 8:05 PM

  6. What a stunning photo in an elegant composition. Everything in nature is so photogenic and cries out to be observed.

    Mary Mageau

    January 21, 2013 at 5:35 PM

  7. Une feuille d’or et de lumière 🙂


    January 25, 2013 at 7:06 AM

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