Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for April 2013

Sleepy orange

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Sleepy Orange Sulphur Butterfly on Grass 5434

This one did seem sleepy, letting me get and stay close for a long time as I took lots of pictures. Entomologists call the sleepy orange* sulphur butterfly Eurema nicippe. You could drop three letters from that species name and it would still be nice. If you also dropped the n you’d be regressing to winter, so don’t do it.

The date was April 1st, the place the right-of-way beneath the power lines that cross the southern portion of my Great Hills neighborhood.


* Most of the orange is on the inner surfaces of the folded wings, where you can’t see it in this pose. I expect the intense yellow will be prize enough for your eyes.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 30, 2013 at 6:20 AM

Engelmann daisy from the side

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Click for greater clarity.

Click for greater clarity.

Last spring I went a bit crazy and declared April 10 to be Engelmann Daisy Day, even to the point of posting not one or two but three times that day. Although 2013 has already been an excellent year for Engelmann daisies, I won’t be so extravagant this time around, but here’s a pleasantly soft side view of Engelmannia peristenia photographed at the Mueller Greenway on the overcast morning of March 29, which was one month ago today. Of course you’re welcome to follow the links in the opening sentence and have a second (or first) look at some pretty (and pretty different) takes on Engelmann daisies.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 29, 2013 at 6:12 AM

Crab spider on rain-lily

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Mecaphesa Crab Spider on Rain-Lily 7558

Click for larger size and greater clarity, especially in the spider’s small hairs.

When I went walking on April 11th I found plenty of spiders, including this pale green one on the tips of two tepals of a rain-lily, Cooperia pedunculata. Thanks to Joe Lapp for telling me that this crab spider is in the genus Mecaphesa.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 28, 2013 at 6:15 AM

Rain-lily flower stalk by four-nerve daisy flower head

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Rain-Lily Sheath by Tetraneuris linearifolia Flower Head 7259

The last post showed you the bud of a rain-lily, Cooperia pedunculata, along Stonelake Blvd. on April 9. The time before that you saw a white prickly poppy flower in a colony of four-nerve daisies, Tetraneuris linearifolia. This photograph from the same session as those two combines elements of both: in the foreground you have the lower portion of a rain-lily’s long flower tube, and in the background an out-of-focus four-nerve daisy nearby. None of the rain-lily’s characteristic whiteness is in evidence here, and that’s one reason I’m fond of this atypical view.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 27, 2013 at 6:19 AM

Another white

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Rain-Lily Bud 7279

Around the corner from the white prickly poppy, and a short while earlier, I’d lain down among some rain-lilies, Cooperia pedunculata, to take pictures of their flowers and buds. The tissue-like petals of the prickly poppy have intricate patterns, and the tepals of the rain-lily do, too, along with a pink tinge absent from the other flower.

The date was April 9, and 2–3 inches of rain the previous week had precipitated the season’s first generation of these flowers. The green arcs in the background are leaves of nearby rain-lilies.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 26, 2013 at 6:14 AM

White prickly poppy in a colony of four-nerve daisies

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Click for greater clarity.

Click for greater clarity.

It was April 9 when I photographed this white prickly poppy, Argemone albiflora, minus two of its petals, in a colony of four-nerve daisies, Tetraneuris linearifolia. The place was close to the spot on Braker Ln. where I’d found an early Mexican hat flowering in February.

The patterns in the prickly poppy’s petals are special, aren’t they? If you’d like a closer and somewhat different view of a petal, you can look back at a post from last June. And if you’d also like a reminder of what the new basal leaves of a white prickly poppy look like, you can return to a post from this March.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 25, 2013 at 6:16 AM

More of an overview

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Click for greater detail.

Click for greater detail and size.

Here’s a view from higher and farther back than last time, showing how the large bluebonnet colony that I found on April 12 along Interstate 35 at Onion Creek Parkway in far south Austin was punctuated by a few flowers of other colors, including some Texas yellow stars.

And suddenly this reminds me of the scene in Gone with the Wind where the camera slowly rises and pulls back to reveal more and more of the wounded soldiers—those wearing not the blue but the gray of “the blue and the gray”—densely covering the ground in Atlanta.

And suddenly that reminds me of Salvatore Quasimodo‘s dense poem:

Ognuno sta solo sul cuor della terra
trafitto da un raggio di sole:
ed è subito sera.

Everyone stands alone at the heart of the earth,
pierced by a ray of sunshine:
and suddenly it’s evening.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 24, 2013 at 1:39 PM

Texas stars and bluebonnets

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Texas Star Flowers in Bluebonnet Colony 8603

The bluebonnet* is the official wildflower of Texas. In fact five species collectively play that role; the one shown here is Lupinus texensis. (If you’d like a reminder of how a bluebonnet looks when it’s developing, you can go back to a close-up photograph from two months ago.)

A wildflower from a different family, Lindheimera texana, has come to be called Texas star or Texas yellow star. Like the star on the state flag, a Texas star flower head always has five rays—as opposed to most local yellow composite flowers, where the number of rays varies from one specimen to another within a given species. Another distinctive characteristic of Lindheimera texana is the notch at the tip of each ray (which you can see more clearly in a close-up from 2012).

Last week, in writing about a photograph dominated by colonies of old plainsman and verbena, I said I’d eventually identify the yellow flowers in the lower right corner of that picture. Now you know what they were.

Date: April 12.  Place: Interstate 35 at Onion Creek Parkway in far south Austin.


* Although bluebonnets usually look purple to me, I’ll confess that this group could pass for true blue.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 24, 2013 at 6:20 AM

Rejuvenating the butterfly, at least pictorially

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White-Striped Longtail Butterfly on Prairie Verbena Flowers 8211

Click for better sharpness.

The white-striped longtail butterfly that you saw last time was faded and had lost its long tails. For comparison, from the April 12th outing in south Austin that brought you several recent pictures of old plainsman, I can offer you this fresher Chioides catillus on a prairie verbena, Glandularia bipinnatifida. Central Texas marks the northern fringe of the territory of this butterfly, which I was surprised to learn ranges all the way south to Argentina; imagine someone down there looking at the same species as someone up here. (That got me wondering about the name of this butterfly in Spanish, so I did some searching and found a site from Argentina that referred to it as coludo chaqeuño; that means ‘a tailed [butterfly] from el Gran Chaco,’ which is a region that includes parts of Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina. In a Mexican book I found the butterfly called coluda catillus, a combination of a common name and a scientific name.)

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 23, 2013 at 6:38 AM

Deminimalizing the sage

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White-Striped Longtail on Mealy Blue Sage 4880

On one of the mealy blue sages, Salvia farinacea, at the Mueller Greenway on March 29th I found this butterfly. From what I can tell, it’s a white-striped longtail, Chioides catillus, faded, still bearing its white stripes but no longer its long tails, which apparently got worn away or chomped off. Such are the hazards of being a butterfly.

The focus here was on the butterfly, but you can have a better look at the flowers of this kind of sage by checking out some pictures from past posts.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 22, 2013 at 1:20 PM

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