Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for June 2014

Lazy and sleepy

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Lazy Daisy Colony 3400

In the last post you saw two stages in the opening of Aphanostephus skirrhobasis, known as lazy daisy and dozedaisy, that I observed in Bastop near the end of April. Now fast-forward to June 14th and a visit with friends in Mason, two hours west-northwest of Austin. A few parts of their property had become little meadows covered with lazy daisies, as you can see here. The bright yellow flowers making their debut in these pages are sleepy daisies, Xanthisma texanum ssp. drummondii, and there are also a few greenthreads and firewheels mixed in.

I’ll return to the (metaphorical) fruits of the Bastrop field trip next week, after catching you up on a few more-recent developments of the densely floral kind.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 20, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Lazy daisies opening

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Aphanostephus skirrhobasis Bud and Flower Head 1772

Like the last many photographs, this one comes from an April 27th field trip to Bastrop State Park led by botanist Bill Carr. You’re looking at two stages in the opening of Aphanostephus skirrhobasis, known as lazy daisy and dozedaisy. Notice how most of the prominent color at the tips of a bud’s rays soon fades to white as a flower head opens: here today, gone tomorrow.

This species grows in Austin and the Texas Hill Country as well as Bastrop, and I’ve photographed it on several occasions, but today is the first time it has appeared in these pages.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 19, 2014 at 5:55 AM

A ground cricket

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Cricket 2012

I’ll follow up the other day’s picture of a strange and dark flower in its normal state with this photograph of a dark cricket, which I didn’t think was in its normal state. I asked entomologist Mike Quinn, who identified the insect as being in the subfamily of Gryllidae (true crickets) designated Nemobiinae, whose members are called ground crickets. Mike also assured me that although I thought the cricket’s back was burned or malformed, it’s actually normal. I didn’t ask about the “tail” on this insect, but I’ve read in online articles that a female cricket has a long ovipositor* (i.e. egg depositor) at the rear of her body, and that seems to be what this picture shows. Live and learn.

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* In a post back in February I reported on an insect with a different-looking ovipositor.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 18, 2014 at 5:55 AM

Nuttall’s sensitive-briar

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Mimosa nuttallii Leaves and Flower Globe 1737

Similar to the sensitive-briar you recently saw from Burnet County is one from an April 27th field trip to Bastrop State Park led by botanist Bill Carr. This time the species is Mimosa nuttallii, known as Nuttall’s sensitive-briar. Here you get a good look at the way the compound leaves of both species close up when something touches them, hence the sensitive part of the name sensitive-briar.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 17, 2014 at 5:50 AM

Allium canadense var. hyacinthoides

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Allium canadense var. hyacinthoides Flowers 1969

Click for greater clarity and size.

A couple of times in these pages I’ve showed you pictures of the wild onion that botanists classify as Allium canadense. It so happens that both of those specimens were of the canadense variety. Now for the first time here’s a look at the other variety that occurs in Texas, Allium canadense var. hyacinthoides, meaning ‘looking like a hyacinth.’ Notice (especially if you click to enlarge) the tiny insect on the leftmost of the three floral “fireworks.”

Like the other pictures over the last week, this one is from an April 27th field trip to Bastrop State Park led by botanist Bill Carr.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 16, 2014 at 5:54 AM

An ailing butterfly

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Ailing Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly 1730

On the April 27th field trip to Bastrop State Park led by botanist Bill Carr I came across this ailing pipevine* swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor, which fluttered about near the ground and didn’t seem able to fly away. That behavior, along with its faded and bedraggled appearance, probably meant that the insect was nearing the end of its life. Notice the swallowtail’s rolled-up proboscis.

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* You saw a pipevine flower in the last post. As Geyata Ajilvsgi notes in Wildflowers of Texas: “Although this plant is common, it is rarely found in flower, for usually larvae of the pipevine swallowtail butterfly… keep it eaten to the ground.”

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 15, 2014 at 6:00 AM

One strange flower

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Aristolochia erecta Flower 1578

I’ll bet most of you have never seen a wildflower like this little one. It’s Aristolochia erecta, called swanflower or grassleaf pipevine, and botanists place it in the Aristolochiaceae, or birthwort family. If you’re wondering about the common name of the family, the American Heritage Dictionary says that “the European species A. clematitis was used as a folk medicine to aid childbirth.” I wish it could help botanists give birth to technical names without as many vowels stacked up near the end as there are in Aristolochiaceae, where five of the last six letters are vowels.

Like the past six photographs, this one comes from an April 27th field trip led by botanist Bill Carr (who modestly has just one vowel in each of his names) to Bastrop State Park. Several species of swanflower grow in Travis County, where Austin is, but I think the only place I’ve ever seen one here is in a planter at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 14, 2014 at 5:48 AM

Rhus copallinum

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Rhus copallina New Leaves 1989

Here’s Rhus copallinum, known as winged sumac, shining sumac, flameleaf sumac, mountain sumac, and dwarf sumac. The species name is taken from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word copalli, meaning ‘resin,’ so the coiner of the scientific name described this kind of sumac as resinous. I’d read about Rhus copallinum and might have seen some in Arkansas last year, but it was good to finally find this species only an hour east of home.

I’ve long been fascinated by the way the rachis (central axis) of each compound leaf* tends to curve in the species of flameleaf sumac I’m familiar with from Austin, and that curving is apparent in this genus-mate as well. Many of you may be familiar with Rhus copallinum because it grows throughout most of the eastern and central United States, as you can confirm on the state-clickable USDA map for this species.

Like the last few photographs, today’s comes from an April 27th field trip to Bastrop State Park led by botanist Bill Carr.

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* In common parlance people might say that this photograph shows a couple of dozen whole or partial leaves, but botanists would disagree and say the photograph shows parts of only three leaves, but each of those leaves is compound, meaning that it is made up of elements called leaflets. For example, in the compound leaf that’s front-most in the photo we can count 13 leaflets, and there might have been some more below the bottom border of the picture. For the leaf that curves along the right edge of the photograph, we can count 11 leaflets.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 13, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Matelea cynanchoides

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Matelea cynanchoides Flowers 1581

There are two species of Matelea I’m familiar with from central Texas: the relatively rare plateau milkvine and the common pearl milkweed vine (whose flowers are quite uncommon in structure and ornamentation: take a look if you haven’t seen that species before, and if you like the first view of it here’s a second one from a different angle and with the addition of a visitor). After an April 27th field trip to Bastrop State Park led by botanist Bill Carr, I could count M. cynanchoides, or prairie milkvine, among the Matelea species I’d seen. As shown here, the flowers of this species occur mostly in pairs.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that points 1, 2, 6, 7 and 20 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 12, 2014 at 6:02 AM

Soft greeneyes and a visitor of a different color

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Reddish-Orange Moth on Greeneyes Flower Head 1869

You’re looking at a flower head of Berlandiera pumila, known as soft greeneyes, and a glance at its central disk explains the second part of that common name. When I prepared this post I originally wrote “I wish I had a name to give you for the colorful moth,” but since then the good folks at BugGuide have identified this as Schinia volupia, called a painted schinia moth. Apparently insects in the genus Schinia are known as flower moths, and they’re in the family Noctuidae, whose members people refer to as owlet moths. The tiny insect in the upper right is some kind of tumbling flower beetle.

Like the last several photographs, this one comes from an April 27th field trip to Bastrop State Park led by botanist Bill Carr.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 11, 2014 at 6:01 AM

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