Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for August 2013

Saltmarsh mallow

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Saltmarsh Mallow FLower 2399

The saltmarsh mallow, Kosteletzkya virginica, grows along the coast of the United States from Long Island—I was surprised to see it listed for Nassau County, where I grew up—to Texas. This species doesn’t range as far inland as Austin, but people sometimes plant it around ponds here as an ornamental.

This is the sixth and penultimate in a series of pictures you’re seeing from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on July 23.

ADDENDUM: In the first comment below, Wanda asked if I could show a closeup of the flower’s reproductive column, so I’ve added that here. Click to enlarge.

Saltmarsh Mallow FLower 2399A

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 21, 2013 at 6:13 AM

White water lily with scrolled leaf

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White Water Lily with Scrolled Leaf 2389

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Water lilies are appealing in their own right, of course, but what further intrigued me here was the way a leaf of this plant had risen out of the water and formed a scroll (which some of you may anthropomorphize into the top of a cowboy boot).

Nymphaea odorata is a white-flowered water lily native in Texas and most other American states as well as parts of Canada and Mexico.

This is the fifth in a series of pictures I took at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on July 23, and the first in these pages ever to show a water lily.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 20, 2013 at 6:04 AM

Mustang grape vine and cumulus clouds

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Mustang Grape Vine and Cumulus Clouds 2408

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Here are some cumulus clouds above a large mustang grape vine, Vitis mustangensis, that gardeners at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center have trained over a trellis in the Center’s display gardens. A woman who was working there the morning I visited told me that this mustang grape had just been trimmed back because of its prolific growth. She also said that in contrast to a mustang grape on the opposite side of the courtyard, this one never produces grapes and therefore must be a male.

If you’d like to be reminded—or learn—that a mustang grape vine can grow as thick and woody as a tree, you’re welcome to check out two posts from January of 2012; one of the huge vines was curiously looped, and the other had the virtue (as we see such things) of serving as a perch for a yellow-crowned night heron.

Today’s photograph is the fourth you’re seeing from a group I took at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on July 23.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 19, 2013 at 6:11 AM

Queen butterfly on Simpson’s rosinweed

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Queen Butterfly on Simpson's Rosinweed 2438

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Behold a queen butterfly, Danaus gilippus, on Simpson’s rosinweed, Silphium simpsonii. The butterfly outdoes the rosinweed here, but in the second month of this blog I showed a radiant picture of a similar species of rosinweed, Silphium radula, if you’d care to look back. And if you’re still in retro mode, you may enjoy revisiting last summer’s white rosinweed.

This picture of a queen butterfly is the third in a series I took at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on July 23, and the first to remind me of the actress Butterfly McQueen.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 18, 2013 at 6:18 AM

Halberdleaf rosemallow

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Hibiscus laevis Flower 2619

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The halberdleaf rosemallow, Hibiscus laevis, is one of the showiest flowers in the United States. It grows in wet places across much of the eastern part of the country, reaching westward into east Texas but not quite making it to Austin—at least not natively, although people here sometimes plant it around ponds, where I’ve seen it thrive. You can check locations for this wildflower on the state-clickable map at the USDA website.

Today’s post is the second in a series showing pictures I took at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on July 23, and the first in these pages ever to feature this species.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 17, 2013 at 6:11 AM

A week at the Wildflower Center

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Turk's Head Cactus Flowering 2410

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No, I didn’t really spend a week at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, but I did spend a couple of hours there on July 23. In this post and the six that follow you’ll see some of the pictures I took that morning.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center mostly hosts plants that are native to central Texas, but it also features some from farther afield in the state, including this Turk’s head cactus from west Texas. The plant’s scientific name is Ferocactus hamatacanthus var. hamatacanthus. If that seems long, all I can say is that botanists get their kicks by creating difficult names like that. Maybe I should go to court and change my name to Stevenus Schwartzmanus photographicus naturae var. excellentissimus. Then I could get put in a botany book along with this cactus.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 16, 2013 at 6:11 AM

Money doesn’t grow on trees, they say

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Prickly Pear Growing in Bole of Live Oak 9453

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They say that money doesn’t grow on trees, but in central Texas I occasionally find another green thing that does: the prickly pear cactus, Opuntia engelmannii. That was the case with this live oak, whose bole apparently held enough soil to allow the prickly pear to get a foothold, although the cactus didn’t seem to be having a great time when I photographed it on July 8th in Upper Purgatory Creek Park in San Marcos. The patches of bark on the tree strike me as rather reptilian, and I can imagine the bole being a large snake coiled around the cactus.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 15, 2013 at 6:18 AM

Doing justice to cenizo

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Cenizo Flowering with Wispy Clouds 3620

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In the last post I mentioned that cenizo, Leucophyllum frutescens, is a bush that’s native in west and south Texas but has been widely planted in other parts of the state because it normally puts forth several dense sets of flowers during the hot months of the year. I said that, but I showed you only a single flower in the foreground of yesterday’s photograph, which was dominated by lustrous and feathery strands of Clematis drummondii. Now I’ll give cenizo its due: here’s a picture showing how profusely some bushes were flowering along Rain Creek Parkway on July 30th.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 14, 2013 at 6:18 AM

Clematis is a climbing vine, after all

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Clematis drummondii Strands on Cenizo Flower 2917

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Clematis drummondii is a vine, after all, so here’s a picture of it climbing on a cenizo bush, Leucophyllum frutescens, that was blossoming profusely in my neighborhood on July 28. Cenizo—also known paradoxically as Texas sage and purple sage even though it’s no kind of sage at all—is native in west and south Texas but has been widely planted elsewhere in the state because during the hot months of the year it typically puts forth several profuse rounds of flowers like the one isolated in this picture. I can be close to certain that the homeowner had arranged for the cenizo to be there, but not the Clematis drummondii that had clambered over it. The feathery tufts of the vine are still there two weeks after all the cenizo flowers fell away.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 13, 2013 at 6:10 AM

Old man’s beard

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Clematis drummondii Mound of Fluff 3626

In the last post you read that Clematis drummondii has been called old man’s beard because of the fluff—often mounds of it—that the vine produces. Today’s picture is a corroboration of that name, but if you have a different imagination you’re free to see clouds in a chlorophyll sky. I found all this fluff on August 1st at the southeast corner of Burnet Rd. and Shoreline Dr. in far north Austin. That was across the street from the corner that hosted some dense mealy blue sage flowers in the spring, and in fact that sage colony is blooming again now.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 12, 2013 at 6:03 AM

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