Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for December 2013

Snout butterfly

with 40 comments

Snout Butterfly on Barbed Wire 2836

A few miles from where the silver bluestem was impersonating a snowstorm on November 19th, I found this American snout butterfly, Libytheana carinenta, on two twisted strands of barbed wire. This is a Cyrano de Bergerac of butterflies, so you might say we’re ending the year with panache.

Yes, today is the last day of 2013 (unless another one unexpectedly intervenes), but because I’m backed up with lots of photographs from an unusually productive November and first part of December, some of those pictures will keep appearing in the weeks ahead. January is usually a fallow month anyhow, a good time to look back while anticipating a spring that comes sooner to central Texas than to many other places. A happy and prosperous 2014 to you all.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 31, 2013 at 6:11 AM

Eryngo remains

with 13 comments

Eryngo Seed Head Remains by Colorful Flameleaf Sumac 2285

Click for greater clarity.

 

Do you remember eryngo, Eryngium leavenworthii, the prickly plant that produces what look like little purple pineapples? On November 19th I came across the remains of a few eryngo seed heads near some flameleaf sumac, Rhus lanceolata. This was within sight of the spot along US 183 in Cedar Park where I found the Indiangrass you recently saw.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 30, 2013 at 6:02 AM

A green grasshopper nymph

with 20 comments

Grasshopper Nymph on Twistleaf Yucca Leaf 8441

Click for greater clarity.

On December 17th I found this tiny grasshopper nymph on the blade of a twistleaf yucca, Yucca rupicola. I’m not sure, but the insect may be Chortophaga viridifasciata, the northern green-striped grasshopper. I am certain of the location: the right-of-way beneath the power lines to the west of Morado Circle in my Great Hills part of Austin.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 29, 2013 at 5:56 AM

Indiangrass

with 35 comments

Indiangrass Stalk and Leaf 2604

You’ve seen pictures in these pages of Indian blanket, Indian paintbrush, and Indian mallow; you’ve also seen three native grasses in the past week. Putting those two things together, here’s Indiangrass, Sorghastrum nutans, making its debut here today. The backlit leaf—one more small source of fall color in central Texas—is what first drew my attention, but then a closer look revealed details of the stalk I’d never seen before: the two-tone textured joint and the long wavy striae above it.

Like the last view, this one comes from November 19th along US 183 in Cedar Park, a fast-growing suburb to the north of Austin.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 28, 2013 at 6:03 AM

Bushy bluestem turned fluffy

with 8 comments

Bushy Bluestem Turned Fluffy 2261

From late fall through winter and even into spring, the fluffy seedheads of bushy bluestem, Andropogon glomeratus, are a common sight on damp ground throughout central Texas. This November 19th view is from undeveloped land along US 183 in Cedar Park, a fast-growing suburb to the north of Austin.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 27, 2013 at 6:03 AM

You can pretend the silver bluestem was snow

with 18 comments

Flameleaf Sumac Turning Colors by Backlit Silver Bluestem 0822

Click for greater clarity.

Central Texas rarely gets snow, and there hasn’t been any this year, but you can pretend that that’s what these backlit seed heads of silver bluestem (Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana) were. I photographed them surrounding a small prairie flameleaf sumac (Rhus lanceolata) that was turning colors on November 19th along RR 1869 west of the town of Liberty Hill.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 26, 2013 at 6:02 AM

Possum and poverty, haw and weed

with 12 comments

Possumhaw Branch with Fruit by Fluffy Poverty Weed 9069

Click for greater clarity.

When I stopped on November 11th to photograph the dense colony of goldeneye, Viguiera dentata, along S. Capital of Texas Highway, I also found a slender possumhaw, Ilex decidua, that already had plenty of little fruits and that seemed on the verge of shedding its leaves. It was close to a few poverty weed bushes, Baccharis neglecta, that the wind was divesting of their seed-bearing fluff, some of which ended up temporarily caught on the possumhaw.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 25, 2013 at 6:03 AM

Creeping from Virginia to Texas, or at least from east Austin to west Austin

with 22 comments

Virginia Creeper Turning Red on Rocks 2248

I’ve lived most of my 37 years in Austin in the north-central or northeastern part of the city, but in May of 2004 we moved to Great Hills in the northwestern part of town. When fall came I couldn’t help noticing that a limestone slope by the side of Morado Circle was host to Parthenocissus quinquefolia, called Virginia creeper or (in part to distinguish it from poison ivy) five-leaf creeper. The reason I couldn’t help noticing that vine is that its compound leaves are one of the reliable sources of fall color here. Now it’s nine years later, and the same plant is on the same rocks, still putting on its autumnal show, as you see from November 18th of this year.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 24, 2013 at 6:01 AM

Lindheimer’s muhly

with 17 comments

Lindheimer's Muhly by Flameleaf Sumac 1791

Click for greater clarity and considerably larger size.

Another thing I saw at the Doeskin Ranch in Burnet County on November 18th was Lindheimer’s muhly, Muhlenbergia lindheimeri, which the website of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center offers more information about. You may remember another species of Muhlenbergia that appeared here recently, and you can probably tell that the color in the background of today’s photograph came from some prairie flameleaf sumac, Rhus lanceolata.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 23, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Common mestra butterfly

with 32 comments

Common Mestra Butterfly 1652

When I was at the Doeskin Ranch in Burnet County on November 18th I saw this butterfly. Later I figured out from a butterfly guide that it was Mestra amomyne, called the common mestra, even though it wasn’t common to me—but that’s hardly surprising, given that I don’t know much about butterflies. I suspect they know even less about me.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 22, 2013 at 6:01 AM

%d bloggers like this: