Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for June 2013

Pavonia mallow flower

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Pavonia Mallow Flower 4094

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Another thing that I found at the Blunn Creek Nature Preserve on June 13th was some flowers of Pavonia lasiopetala, known as pavonia mallow, rose pavonia, rose mallow, and rock rose. The long central column makes it easy to tell that this wildflower is in the same botanical family as the Indian mallow you saw here a couple of weeks ago.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 30, 2013 at 6:01 AM

Standing cypress flower fallen but still standing

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Standing Cypress Flower Fallen But Still Standing 4024

From my standing height I looked down at the ground and saw a standing cypress flower, which I didn’t understand and somehow thought was sprouting. But that’s not how Ipomopsis rubra grows, and when I got low and close I saw the truth of the matter: this flower had fallen from a standing cypress plant but was still standing, at least if you make an allowance for the fact that it didn’t touch the ground.

My misunderstanding followed by understanding took place at the Blunn Creek Nature Preserve in south Austin on June 13. Today’s photograph gives you the closest look yet at an individual flower of this species, which is also known as Texas plume and red Texas star.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 29, 2013 at 6:17 AM

Standing cypress flower

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Standing Cypress Flower 3865

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In the last post you saw an Ipomopsis rubra bud, and now you get to see what one of those buds turns into. If I tell you that rubra means red in Latin , I don’t think you’ll be surprised. In contrast, I think you will be surprised to learn that this plant is in the same botanical family as the cut-leaf gilia from a couple of months ago, which was low and tiny. Despite the differences, botanists classify both species in the Polemoniaceae, or phlox family. If you’d like to reinforce the contrast between these two oh-so-different relatives, you’re welcome to look back at a view from last year that gives you a good sense of how tall and slender a standing cypress plant is, and how splendid one can be when it’s covered with flowers.

As was true of yesterday’s photo, this one comes from the Blunn Creek Nature Preserve on June 13.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that points 1, 3, 5, and 7 in About My Techniques are relevant to this picture.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 28, 2013 at 6:17 AM

An Ipomopsis rubra bud

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Standing Cypress Bud Among Leaves 4045

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That’s right, an opening bud of Ipomopsis rubra, known as Texas plume or standing cypress. The plant does stand tall and erect, but it’s no cypress. Its finely dissected leaves are the plumes in the other common name.

I took this picture in Blunn Creek Nature Preserve in south Austin on June 13.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 27, 2013 at 6:11 AM

Regular squirrel

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Squirrel Staring from Ashe Juniper 6077

On the morning of June 23, as I was proofing the post you saw last time, I heard a thud on the roof and then watched while the white squirrel and a regularly colored one jumped into the Ashe juniper tree outside my window and chased madly about, whether playing or fighting I couldn’t tell. At one point, locked together, they fell off a branch of the tree and disappeared from my sight, but soon afterward I saw each one back up high again, though moving separately, so the fall apparently didn’t hurt them. Some minutes later the regularly colored squirrel came back for a bout of staring at me, as you see. Unfortunately the white one didn’t, but because it hangs out around here maybe I’ll get more chances to photograph it.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 26, 2013 at 6:10 AM

White squirrel

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Albino Squirrel on Ashe Juniper Tree 2318A

One day near the end of May I noticed a white squirrel in front of my house. I didn’t have a camera with me, and the squirrel scampered off before I could go inside to get my equipment. Oh well, some opportunities get away from us.

On the morning of June 8th, while sitting at my computer, I saw the white squirrel on the Ashe juniper tree outside my window, which is at second-story height. The squirrel saw me too, and it stared at me for a good while. This time my bag was just a few feet away, so I went over to it, put a long lens on the camera, did some scampering of my own onto my desk, and scooted close to the window. As was true of a previous squirrel picture, it’s hardly good technique to shoot obliquely through window glass that isn’t the cleanest and to aim at a subject that not only is backlit but has patches of white sky behind it, but I could either do that or not take any pictures. I took pictures.

For more information about white and albino squirrels, you can read a New York Times article.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 25, 2013 at 6:16 AM

Standing winecup bud before* a flower

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Standing Winecup Bud by Flower 3649

During a visit to McKinney Falls State Park on May 6th, I photographed this bud of a standing winecup, Callirhoe pedata, in front of an open flower of the same species. (Distance has deprived the flower’s image of detail—that’s a good deprivation—but not color). Notice that even when a winecup bud’s green bracts still mostly enclose the tightly rolled petals, they already have their characteristic ragged fringes.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman


* You can take before in its spatial as well as temporal sense.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 24, 2013 at 6:03 AM

Landscape on an overcast morning

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Yuccas Flowering by Firewheels with Cloudy Sky 8742

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Another thing I saw at Springfield Park in southeast Austin on the overcast morning of May 30 was this margin where a small wildflower meadow met the trees of an adjacent thicket. If your eyes are drawn to the cream-colored clusters of yucca flowers now, so were mine then. Many of the firewheels that filled the meadow had advanced beyond their flowering stage to become seed-bearing globes.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 23, 2013 at 6:19 AM

A fallen coreopsis ray flower

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Tiny Fly on Pond Surface by Fallen Coreopsis Ray 8667A

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On May 30th I once again saw some coreopsis plants near water, but this time at Springfield Park in southeast Austin, and the water wasn’t much more than a puddle. I noticed that a ray flower had fallen from one of the coreopsis flower heads and was floating on the water. It helps not to weigh much.

When I knelt and looked more closely, I saw that a tiny fly had landed on what was now a yellow raft. I took some pictures of the insect on the floating ray flower, when to my surprise the fly walked right off its raft and onto the surface of the puddle. Like I said, it helps not to weigh much.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 22, 2013 at 6:23 AM

Three native plants, none of them aquatic

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Coreopsis, Mexican Hats, Poverty Weed by Brushy Creek Lake 8479

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The most prominent wildflowers here are coreopsis (Coreopsis sp.). The darker flower heads below them are Mexican hats (Ratibida columnifera), and you can also make out some dried remains of the same at the lower left. The slender, leafy bush is a young poverty weed (Baccharis neglecta). None of these species is aquatic or even needs to be near a body of water, but—like the Desmanthus you saw last time—all three of these were flourishing on the shore of Brushy Creek Lake in the town of Cedar Park when I visited on May 22.

This was the only coreopsis I saw in the park that day, but if you want a striking reminder of how much nature can vary from year to year, check out a panoramic view of this site from the spring of 2010.

You’re in for an unusual take on coreopsis and water next time, so stay tuned.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 21, 2013 at 6:18 AM

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