Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Back on the Possumhaw Trail

with 12 comments

Pssumhaw with Dense Fruit by Bare White Tree 5617

In January of 2010, native plant aficionado Agnes Plutino told me that when she’d recently traveled Texas Highway 29 in Burnet County, she’d noticed lots of possumhaw trees, Ilex decidua, laden with fruit on both sides of the road. I quickly acted on her tip, drove that route on January 21, 2010, and stopped probably ten times to take possumhaw photographs between the towns of Bertram and Burnet, about an hour to the northwest of Austin.

Two days short of three years later, on a sunny January 19, 2013, I went back out along what I’ve come to think of as the Possumhaw Trail, even if no one else calls that stretch of highway by that name. I ended up taking my time and pictures in three places on the north side of the road, including this one, which was made dramatic by the bare white tree behind the swathe of dense possumhaw fruit as well as by the blue sky and cirrus clouds above.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 29, 2013 at 6:11 AM

12 Responses

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  1. So beautiful! Is the white tree a sycamore? It’s the only white tree I’m familiar with.

    Despite the popularity of the spring wildflower trails and people’s propensity to get out and about to see the new blooms, it’s become clear to me that driving the countryside in the fall and winter can provide equal enjoyment. This is proof!


    January 29, 2013 at 6:31 AM

    • As pretty as the white tree was, I’m afraid I don’t know what it was. It didn’t seem to be a sycamore, and it wasn’t growing in a place with a nearby source of water, which is where I normally find sycamores (other than those that people have planted in town).

      At this sparsest time of the year for wildflowers, possumhaws have been the most reliable source of color in nature in central Texas, and one that I look forward to each winter. Because I’ve photographed these trees so many times, I’m always on the lookout for something different about them, and in this case the white tree provided that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 29, 2013 at 7:31 AM

  2. Yep! I love Hwy 29 all the way west to Mason. An easy drive and some fairly safe places to pull over and explore.
    Another cool highway I’ve found that contains both Yaupon and Possumhaw is Hwy 79 northeast of Taylor to Marquez where I usually turn east on Hwy 7 toward Crockett. It is amazing what you see in winter. One of my favorites are the old barns, rapidly disappearing from the countryside.


    January 29, 2013 at 7:06 AM

    • Thanks for that latest tip, Agnes. The only place east of Taylor that I’ve gone to several times is the preserve along Granger Lake off Highway 1331, which is more north than east of Taylor. I’ve looked on the map and found this latest route you mention. Marquez is farther away than I normally wander, but I’ll keep it in mind. Now if we could just get rid of these clouds that hang around but don’t give us any rain….

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 29, 2013 at 7:45 AM

  3. That’s a really pretty photo of one of my favorite plants. Just beautiful with the tall tree in the background.


    January 29, 2013 at 10:37 AM

  4. i believe we have one of those trees near ‘town’ here. i see mockingbirds eating its fruit sometimes.


    January 29, 2013 at 10:51 AM

  5. This blog was awarded the Wondering-Wanderer’s Bean’s Pat as the blog pick of the day. Check it out at http://patbean.wordpress.com

    Pat Bean

    January 29, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    • Thanks for the pat, Pat. You’re right that while flowers are lovely, there are also many other kinds of beauty in the botanical world. Variety is the spice of species.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 29, 2013 at 1:18 PM

  6. […] other places since then, including as recently as yesterday), I’ll add only one more to the view you saw a month ago. The green leaves in the lower left aren’t those of the possumhaw, which by then had lived up […]

  7. […] Trail because there are a fair number of those trees along the highway. Three years ago I showed another possumhaw picture from this stretch of road. In fact, in looking back at my take from that day I noticed I’d […]

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