Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for April 2013

Minimalism to the max

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Mealy Blue Sage Flower Stalk 4714

Click for better clarity.

Not part of a plush toy, but the flower stem of a mealy blue sage, Salvia farinacea, is what you’re getting a close look at here. Plants in the mint family (which includes all the sages) have stems that are roughly square in cross-section, as is evident in this picture. Like some other recently posted photographs, this is one that I took at the Mueller Greenway on March 29 in preparation for a slide show and native plant walk there the following week.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that points 1, 2, 6, 9, 14, and 19 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph. That’s a lot of points for such a simple picture.

April 22 is the “official” Earth Day, but in this blog the other 364 days (365 last year) are Earth Day too.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 22, 2013 at 6:17 AM

The closest look yet at old plainsman flowers

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Red-Black Beetle on Old Plainsman Flowers 9547

Here’s the closest look yet at the flowers of old plainsman, Hymenopappus scabiosaeus. You won’t mind, will you, if the red and black beetle blocks a portion of your view?

I took this picture yesterday, April 20, on FM 971 in Georgetown, some 20–25 miles north of Austin.

To see the various places where this species of old plainsman grows, you can check out the state-clickable map at the USDA.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 21, 2013 at 1:54 PM

The plight of one plainsman

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Old Plainsman Buds Fasciated 8398

Although the colony of old plainsman, Hymenopappus scabiosaeus, that I found on April 12 at the corner of Corral Ln. and I-35 in south Austin was remarkable for its size and density, one detail caught my attention: a single old plainsman plant that had become fasciated.

A post from August 2011 explained “what botanists call fasciation, a word based, with some imagination, on the Latin fascia that meant ‘a strip of material, ribbon, band, bandage, swathe.’ As Dr. T. Ombrello wrote: ‘One interesting type of mistake that is occasionally found in plants is known as a fasciated or crested growth form. It is usually the result of a growing point changing from a round dome of cells into a crescent shape. Subsequent growth produces a flat stem. In some cases fasciation is the result of several embryonic growing points fusing together, with the same flat-stem appearance.'”

In this close photograph of old plainsman, the lower group of buds looks pretty normal, but the upper group is clearly fasciated, with its buds flattening out into a row rather than forming a round cluster.

If you have a fascination with fasciation, you can look back at a firewheel and a poverty weed plant that suffered from that condition.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 21, 2013 at 6:18 AM

An even closer look and another name

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Old Plainsman Flowers by Prairie Verbena 8249

Click for better detail and much larger size.

I’ve been referring to Hymenopappus scabiosaeus as old plainsman, but another folksy name for the plant is woolly-white, which this closer view may explain. As was true two posts ago, the purple comes from flowers of prairie verbena, Glandularia bipinnatifida.

Date: April 12.  Place: the corner of Corral Ln. and I-35 in south Austin.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 20, 2013 at 1:22 PM

I did say dense

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Old Plainsman Dense Colony 8306A

Click for greater clarity and double the size.

The display of old plainsman, Hymenopappus scabiosaeus, that I found on April 12 at the corner of Corral Ln. and I-35 in south Austin was probably the largest and densest I’ve ever seen. Here’s a closer view than last time of a small part of it.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 20, 2013 at 6:21 AM

It hasn’t been a fantabulous wildflower spring here, but this is still Texas

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Old Plainsman Colony with Prairie Verbena and Texas Stars in It 8184

Click for greater clarity and size.

Even though this hasn’t been the kind of spring we had in 2010 and 2012, with broad displays of dense wildflowers in many places, this is still Texas, and at least some floral panoramas have been visited upon us. You see one here. The plants with all the white flowers and buds atop them were part of a large colony of old plainsman, Hymenopappus scabiosaeus, a species that has been having a banner year (and coincidentally one making its debut in these pages today). If you’d stood where I did when I took this picture, old plainsman would have surrounded you; contained within that huge stand was a smaller—and necessarily lower—one of prairie verbena, Glandularia bipinnatifida, whose purple flowers color the near half of the photograph. As for the yellow flowers in the lower right, you’ll get a better look at that species in another post.

Date: April 12.  Location: the southwest corner of Corral Ln. and I-35 in south Austin, a place I’d never photographed till that day. Because the property fronts the Interstate, someone will eventually build on that land, but at least for this year I got to spend over an hour with the wildflowers there.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 19, 2013 at 6:22 AM

Even shriveling becomes them

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Pink Evening Primrose Flower Shriveled 3616

Yes, even shriveling becomes them—pink evening primrose flowers, that is, which don’t last long.

The oeno that begins the botanical name Oenothera speciosa is the Greek word for wine, but only in this withered state does the pink in these wildflowers turn the color of wine.

Date: March 21.  Place: the Blackland Prairie in far northeastern Austin.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 18, 2013 at 6:22 AM

The view from the back

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Pink Evening Primrose Bud and Sheath Behind Open Flower 3604

Here’s a view of an Oenothera speciosa from behind. The long green thing is a bud that’s still closed. Next to it, yellow-orange, is a bud casing that has let loose its flower, whose pink petals I think you see beyond it. Red, yellow, green, orange, and pink: a great color mix, don’t you think?

Date: March 21.  Place: the Blackland Prairie in far northeastern Austin.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 17, 2013 at 6:25 AM

What would spring in Austin be without pink evening primroses?

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Pink Evening Primrose Flower Center from Side 4749

One of the most familiar and widespread wildflowers of spring in central Texas, Oenothera speciosa, has been hiding out from this blog for the almost two years of its (the blog’s) existence. Bid it (the pink evening primrose) welcome.

The stigma in this species, visible at the left, has four prongs, though at the angle from which I took the picture one prong happened to line up with the one beyond it and is therefore hard to distinguish unless you look carefully. The other cream-colored structures are anthers, on some of which you can see pollen. In the background at the left is another pink evening primrose, out of focus, but with the distinctive cross of its stigma still recognizable.

Date: March 29.  Place: Mueller Greenway in east-central Austin.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 16, 2013 at 6:17 AM

Rembrandt meets insect pupae

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Cottony Insect Pupae 5230

Don’t you like the cottony texture of these insect pupae? (Thanks to Mike Quinn for telling me what they are.) This is a close view, so each of the tiny chambers measured at most 3/16 of an inch (5 mm) in length.

I was wandering west of Morado Circle in northwest Austin on April 1st when I found this little low-rent apartment complex. And while we’re on that subject, did you know that most of the inhabitants of ancient Rome lived in apartments or behind shops or in rented rooms rather than in houses? The Romans called their apartment buildings insulae, meaning islands. Nihil novum sub sole, there’s nothing new under the sun.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 15, 2013 at 6:12 AM

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