Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for April 2014

Blue stars again

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Blue Stars Flowering 5174

Here’s a delicate wildflower that’s native in Austin and even grows on my western side of town but that I rarely see: Amsonia ciliata, known as blue stars. I felt fortunate to find a little group of them on undeveloped land at the corner of Old Spicewood Springs Rd. and Spicewood Springs Rd. on March 24th. (This is the same parcel where I’ve found ladies’ tresses orchids each November for the past few years.)

To see the places in the mostly southeastern United States where blue stars grow, you can check the USDA’s state-clickable map.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 30, 2014 at 6:04 AM

Intricacy

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Prickly Pear Pad Internal Structure 3923

The most common cactus in Austin is the prickly pear, Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri, which has appeared here a bunch of times. When one of these cacti dies and dries out, the “skin” of each pad disintegrates and reveals the intricate structure inside.

This photograph comes from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on March 19th.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 29, 2014 at 5:57 AM

Four-nerve daisy bud beginning to open

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Four-Nerve Daisy Bud Beginning to Open 5165

Very different from a phlox bud is the bud of a four-nerve daisy, Tetraneuris linearifolia. Trying to decide whether downy or pilose best describes it amounts to splitting hairs, but either way, I took this picture of a bud beginning to open on an undeveloped property at the intersection of Old Spicewood Springs Rd. and Spicewood Springs Rd. on March 24th.

A picture last year of this species in this stage led to a comparison with man-made structures called crenels and merlons.

This is the fourth and final post in the current series showing buds. Tomorrow it’s on to something quite different.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 28, 2014 at 6:02 AM

Phlox bud

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Red Phlox Bud 4729

You recently saw some landscape photographs of fields covered with dense wildflowers, among which were prominent stands of magenta phlox. Phlox comes in various colors, including bright red, as you see here. I took this closeup in Austin’s Zilker Botanical Gardens on March 24.

This is the third in a four-part series showing buds.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 27, 2014 at 6:01 AM

Blue-eyed grass bud

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Blue-Eyed Grass Bud by Flower 7176

Do you remember the picture of blue-eyed grass flowers a month ago? Now, going backward in development, here’s the bud of a Sisyrinchium on undeveloped land at the intersection of McCallen Pass and E. Parmer Ln. on April 3rd.

This is the second in a four-part series showing buds.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 26, 2014 at 5:58 AM

Pointy wild onion bud

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Pointy Wild Onion Bud 6946

Another I wandered in the greenbelt north of Old Lampasas Trail on April 24th I saw this pointy bud of a wild onion, Allium canadense var. canadense.

This is the first in a four-part series in which each photograph will give you a close view of a bud.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 25, 2014 at 5:59 AM

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Another bit of strange

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Insect Camouflaged with Twigs 6767

If you’re having trouble telling what’s going on here, that’s good. Take another look and see if you can figure anything out before you continue.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 24, 2014 at 5:40 AM

Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres*

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Gall and New Read Oak Leaves 6647

The leaves of young red oak trees may be divided into parts, but I haven’t seen any galls that are. And what, you may wonder, is a gall? I’ll let a page from Brandeis University or another from the University of Minnesota do the talking for me. You may also be intrigued to learn that ink made from oak galls “was the standard writing and drawing ink in Europe, from about the 5th century to the 19th century, and remained in use well into the 20th century.”

I found a bunch of particularly appealing spotted galls, including this one, when I wandered in the greenbelt on the north side of Old Lampasas Trail on April 2. I’d gone back to see if any more morel mushrooms had materialized; they hadn’t, but the oak galls were at least as photogenic.

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* So wrote Julius Caesar at the beginning of his Gallic Wars. English translators have traditionally rendered the line as “All Gaul is divided into three parts.” Now that I’ve used the Latin quotation as a title, I expect to get some hits from searchers who’ll be surprised to find a gall rather than Gaul.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 23, 2014 at 6:01 AM

Philadelphia freedom

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Philadelphia Fleabane Daisy 5289A

On the bank of the little creek with the “corrugated” algae in it was this Erigeron philadelphicus, called Philadelphia fleabane. A flower head of this species has even more white rays—John and Gloria Tveten say the count of threadlike segments can go above 150—than the prairie fleabane you’ve seen here several times.

Don’t let the name Philadelphia fool you: this species grows in Mexico and in almost all American states and Canadian provinces, as you can confirm on the USDA’s state-clickable map. That’s one hardy plant that can tolerate such extreme differences in climate.

Today’s picture is from March 24th along Old Lampasas Trail in northwest Austin.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 22, 2014 at 5:15 AM

Corrugated algae

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Corrugated Algae 5466

Corrugated is just my word for it.

March 24th, Old Lampasas Trail: you can take my word for it.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 21, 2014 at 5:56 AM

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