Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for October 2013

Toothed spurge

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Euphorbia dentata 9577

I think the plant making its debut here today is toothed spurge, Euphorbia dentata, a rather inconspicuous native species. I’ve occasionally found it in my back yard, but I photographed this one half a mile away, in Great Hills Park, on October 2. If you sense a vague resemblance to poinsettia—though with white rather than red, and a Texan rather than a Mexican origin—that’s because the two are in the same (and very large) genus. So are the Texas natives fire-on-the-mountain, snow-on-the-mountain, and snow-on-the-prairie.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 31, 2013 at 6:02 AM

More yellow

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Maximilian Sunflower Colony Flopwering 0430A

Click for greater clarity and considerably larger size.

From the same October 6th outing that brought you a picture of a goldenrod colony comes the autumnal yellow of a colony of Maximilian sunflowers, Helianthus maximiliani, at the intersection of Grand Avenue Parkway and Black Locust Dr. in Pflugerville.

I couldn’t decide how I wanted to crop the picture. First I went for the panoramic approach above, which emphasized the arc of the leaning sunflower stalk, and then I chose an almost square format that played parallel and perpendicular rows of yellow off against more of the rich blue sky. If you have a preference for one of the two versions, you’re welcome to chime in.

Maximilian Sunflower Colony Flowering 0430B

Click for greater clarity.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 30, 2013 at 6:01 AM

Why is velvetleaf mallow called velvetleaf mallow?

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Velvetleaf Mallow Leaf Underside 9814

Why is Allowissadula holosericea called velvetleaf mallow? Because it’s a mallow whose leaves really do feel like velvet. Here’s a closeup of a square inch or so of a leaf’s underside. It’s all those little hairs that create the feeling of softness when touched.

The made-up species name holosericea means ‘all silky,’ but I wouldn’t describe the feel of one of these leaves as silky (even if velvet can be made from silk). Maybe whoever coined the term couldn’t find a Greek or Latin word for ‘velvety.’

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 29, 2013 at 5:59 AM

A velvetleaf mallow flower fully open

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Velvetleaf Mallow Flower 9791

In yesterday’s photograph from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on October 3rd you couldn’t make out the details of a velvetleaf mallow flower, Allowissadula holosericea, in the background behind an opening bud. Now you can. Don’t you like the shadows that all those stamens cast onto one petal?

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 28, 2013 at 6:00 AM

A velvetleaf mallow bud opening

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Velvetleaf Mallow Bud by Flower 9803

Click for greater clarity.

At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on October 3rd I photographed this opening bud of velvetleaf mallow, Allowissadula holosericea. Beyond it you can make out the color and outline—but no details—of an already open velvetleaf mallow flower. If you’re wondering whether this plant is sticky to touch, the way you saw that Hooker’s palafoxia is, the answer is yes.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 27, 2013 at 6:02 AM

One alive and flowering and colorful, the other dead and dry

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Goldenrod Flowering by Dry Giant Ragweed Stalks 0239A

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One of the treats of autumn is goldenrod (genus Solidago), a flowering cohort of which you see here. The tall, dried-out stalks are from the previous year’s colony of giant ragweed, Ambrosia trifida.

I took this sunny photograph on October 6th near Naruna Way in northeast Austin. In the three weeks since then, much of the goldenrod in Austin has been fading, but individual plants here and there remain vibrant.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 26, 2013 at 6:00 AM

When is a rain-lily black? — Take 2

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Click for greater clarity.

Another way a rain-lily can be black—and you might say a more legitimate one than as a shadow—is through its seeds. Here you see a couple of rain-lily seeds that hadn’t yet fallen out of their little compartment, even though the two adjacent compartments in the capsule had already shed their cargo. What the tiny white flecks on the dark seeds were, I don’t know, maybe just dust. Also notice the faint spider silk in several places.

The location is once again the triangle of land where Perry Lane runs into Mopac, but this picture dates from November 14th of 2011. (I had a version of this post ready to appear shortly afterwards, but somehow I kept bumping it. Now seemed like the right time to let it go out into the world.)

With this photograph you’ve seen the last stage in the life of a rain-lily. Other views in these pages have included:

A rain-lily bud;

A rain-lily flower beginning to open;

A rain-lily stalk;

A rain-lily turning pink;

A pink tip of a rain-lily tepal;

A rain-lily turned red by the setting sun;

A dense colony of rain-lilies;

The outside of a rain-lily seed capsule.

If you were to say that I like rain-lilies, you wouldn’t be wrong.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 25, 2013 at 1:33 PM

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