Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 16 comments

Reeds in Pond 0159

Click for greater clarity.

When I was working along Wells Branch Parkway near Drusilla’s Drive in Pflugerville on January 20th, I found these rushes in a retention pond. What intrigued me was the horizontal band of white that was on average about a foot above water level. I don’t recall seeing anything like that before, nor do I know what caused it.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 20, 2014 at 6:00 AM

16 Responses

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  1. Perhaps a rise and fall in water level at some point? Too funny though, I just blogged about Juncus effusus (common rush or soft rush) two-days ago! It looks similar to this plant.

    Cathy Testa

    February 20, 2014 at 6:03 AM

    • I thought about differing levels of water in the pond, Cathy, but I couldn’t figure out why that would have caused whiteness, especially since the stalks are green below the white parts, and the water level would have had to descend through that green area to get to where it was at the time of the photograph.

      You had white in conjunction with your rushes, too, but with no mystery about its origins: it was the white of snow in the adjacent photograph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 20, 2014 at 7:22 AM

  2. Great abstract!


    February 20, 2014 at 6:18 AM

    • Thanks, Jude. All those stalks and their reflections called out for a picture. I obliged with several as I tried different angles and compositions.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 20, 2014 at 7:26 AM

  3. Something leaching up the stack? Pretty reflections in that shot.


    February 20, 2014 at 7:28 AM

    • While you were writing your comment, Dawn, I was answering the previous one, and I mentioned how the reflections had caught my attention.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 20, 2014 at 7:39 AM

  4. My guess is the water carries a dissolved mineral as it flows up the reed. It gets only so far when it evaporates and leaves the mineral deposits. You should go taste the white stuff to see if it is salty. Report back.

    Jim in IA

    February 20, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    • But then why would the white not continue down to the water level?

      As for tasting the white, I think I’ll pass, ’cause who knows what chemicals might’ve gotten spilled there?

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 20, 2014 at 9:22 AM

  5. vibrant blue.


    February 20, 2014 at 9:52 PM

  6. Steve, there is a lot of algae on the stems below the white watermark. The watermark is caused by the drying out and bleaching of all algae above. Remember the drought? You’ve been getting rain, but not enough yet to bring your water back up to normal.

    That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it! 😀


    February 21, 2014 at 12:45 AM

    • That’s a plausible theory, Lynda. Thanks for suggesting it. The algae can stick to the plants, and you to your theory, in equal measure.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 21, 2014 at 7:26 AM

  7. I think Lynda’s theory holds water. I’ve seen the same phenomenon in a freshwater swamp in Louisiana, where the drought kept water levels lower than usual for longer than usual. Whatever the cause, it certainly makes for a striking photo.

    The reeds reminded me of an on-going scholarly discussion. The Hebrew words yam suph, which often are rendered as “Red Sea” in the Old Testament, literally translate as “Sea of Reeds.” Since reeds grow in fresh (or sometimes brackish) water, some have argued that Moses’ crossing of “yam suph” took place at an inland reedy lake rather than the Red Sea.


    February 22, 2014 at 8:04 AM

    • I’m still not sure what to read into the scene, but I like your comment about Lynda’s theory holding water.

      I’ve heard about yam suph and the implication that Moses might have crossed an inland reedy lake rather than the Red Sea. If it’s true, that makes it harder to reconcile the account of Pharaoh’s soldiers drowning, unless perhaps in quicksand.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 22, 2014 at 11:07 AM

  8. Love the rhythmic look. Someone ought to set this one to music!

    Susan Scheid

    March 5, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    • That’s more your domain than mine, Susan, but I’ll confess I’ve had the idea for years now that a composer might get inspired by some of these views.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 5, 2014 at 5:03 PM

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