Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for May 2014

Two prickly pear cactus flowers

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Two Prickly Pear Cactus Flowers 3834

May was the month when the flowers of the prickly pear cacti, Opuntia engelmannii, came into their own. This double portrait is from Colton-Bluff Springs Road in far southeast Austin on May 1st.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 31, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Cedar sage flower

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Cedar Sage Flower 1540

From April 22nd, here’s a closeup of a cedar sage flower, Salvia roemeriana, growing wild along Morado Circle in my northwestern part of Austin.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 30, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Another garlic goer

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Inchworm on Wild Garlic 7977

Another goer on wild garlic, Allium drummondii, that I saw on April 7th in the panhandle of St. Edward’s Park in northwest Austin was this little caterpillar. The cluster of buds confirms that these flowers were in an earlier stage than the ones you saw last time.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 29, 2014 at 5:50 AM

Tiny bee on wild garlic flowers

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Tiny Dark Bee on Wild Garlic Flowers 8074

The flowers of wild garlic, Allium drummondii, are gone now, but they were in their prime on April 7th when I photographed this group in the panhandle of St. Edward’s Park in northwest Austin. What I find enticing about the tiny bee is the bands of pale green on it.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 28, 2014 at 5:58 AM

Paloverde tree in full flower

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Paloverde Tree Flowering 7251

By mid-May the paloverde trees around Austin had begun to flower. I took this bright picture of a Parkinsonia aculeata along N. Lamar Blvd. on May 16th.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 27, 2014 at 6:01 AM

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Eastern screech-owl

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Eastern Screech-Owl 4419

On the morning of May 5th, Eve came in from the back yard and said she saw an owl out there. After I got my camera we went outside and I asked her to show me where she found the bird. She pointed, and at first I couldn’t see the small owl, but then suddenly I made it out. While still at a distance I started taking pictures, not knowing if the owl would stay put, but it did, and I managed to get pretty close as I continued photographing. Only after I moved really close did the owl finally get tired of me and fly away to another tree.

I know almost nothing about birds, so I looked in The Birds of Texas and decided this is most likely an eastern screech-owl, Megascops asio, which grows to between 6 and 9 inches in height. The tree isn’t native but the bird certainly is.

UPDATE. A raptor rehabilitator that a friend of mine knows added this observation: “Typical adult Eastern Screech Owl, he’s just trying to be invisible by blending into the tree. They pull their feathers in close to the body & put up the ear tufts, close the eyes to a slit and disappear into the forest. This guy is annoyed that someone interupted his day of sleep.”

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 26, 2014 at 5:50 AM

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Sensitive briar flowers and leaves

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Sensitive Briar Flowers and Leaves 0493

Yet another plant I saw on April 19th along US 183 in Burnet County was this sensitive briar, Mimosa roemeriana. The common name comes from the fact that if you touch the compound leaves they fold up within a few seconds.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 25, 2014 at 6:01 AM

Square-bud primrose flowers

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Square-Bud Primrose Flowers 0389

In the April 19th photograph of Penstemon cobaea along US 183 in Burnet County that you saw yesterday, your eyes might have been drawn to a few hazy patches of yellow in the lower left corner. That bright color came from Calylophus berlandieri, a wildflower that you get a good look at here (and last year you got to see some of these flowers from below.) This plant commonly goes by the names square-bud primrose and sundrops; the former is more literally descriptive, the latter more poetic.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 24, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Penstemon cobaea

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Penstemon cobaea Flowers and Buds 0426

Another thing I saw on April 19th along US 183 in Burnet County was this Penstemon cobaea, called wild foxglove, prairie penstemon, and large-flowered beard-tongue (among other things). This species is fairly common in central Texas, but somehow today is the first time I’ve shown it in these pages. In a reversal of what you’d expect, you got to see a penstemon from west Texas before the one that’s native in Austin.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 23, 2014 at 5:48 AM

Limestone gaura

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Limestone Gaura Colony Flowering 0577A

As we approached Austin on the way back from Lubbock late in the afternoon on April 17th, I glimpsed quickly passing bits of red along US 183 in Burnet County that made me think I should return sometime soon for a better look. Two days later I did so, as this picture confirms. You’re looking at Gaura calcicola, called limestone gaura, which, like a bunch of species you’ve seen over the past few weeks, makes its debut in these pages today.

I often point you to a USDA map showing the distribution of a species. The one for Gaura calcicola is less accurate than it could be because it leaves out at least two Texas counties where the species grows: Burnet County, as shown in today’s photograph, and McCulloch County, the site of the photograph in Marshall Enquist’s Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country. To the credit of the USDA, though, all its maps are followed by a disclaimer: “However, not all populations have been documented, so some gaps in the distribution shown above may not be real.”

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 22, 2014 at 5:51 AM

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