Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for September 2014

Ludwigia

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Ludwigia octovalvis Flower 1621

On August 6th I drove over to a sumpy place I know on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin. One plant that regularly grows at the edge of the pond there is Ludwigia octovalvis, vernacular names for which include water primrose, narrow-leaf water primrose, Mexican primrose willow, and seedbox. Behold one of its pretty flowers.

To see the places in the southeastern United States where this species grows, you can check out the USDA map.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

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I’m out of town for a while. Of course you’re welcome to leave comments, but please understand if it takes me longer than usual to respond.

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 23, 2014 at 5:53 AM

Later than usual

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Tiny Black Bee in White Prickly Poppy Flower 1356

August is too late for large quantities of white prickly poppies, Argemone albiflora, but there can still be stragglers, and in fact I was surprised to come upon one just last week. Back on August 5th at Brushy Creek Lake Park in the town of Cedar Park (on the same outing that brought you a photograph of Clematis and clouds) I’d come across the white prickly poppy shown here, which had attracted some tiny insects. They kept darting about on the flower’s stamens so I used a shutter speed of 1/1000 sec. to stop their motion.

Argemone albiflora is the only species of poppy native to the Austin area. Don’t you like the way all its yellow-orange stamens surround the lone red and velvety-looking stigma? This species of poppy also has very delicate petals, details of which I showed in a 2012 post. If you’re not familiar with white prickly poppies, you may also want to take a look at the intricate and fractal-like patterns in these plants’ leaves. And if you haven’t gotten link-happy by now, you can see one of these pristine white flowers serving as an emblem of resurgence after the devastating Bastrop wildfires of 2011.

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Happy autumnal equinox tonight (Austin time), and may you all retain your equanimity.

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I’m out of town for a while. Of course you’re welcome to leave comments, but please understand if it takes me longer than usual to respond.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 22, 2014 at 5:51 AM

It’s time for blazing-star again

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Liatris Flower Spike with Cloud 6818

On September 7th I was driving in northeast Austin on the way to the house of some friends when for the first time this year I spotted a flowering Liatris mucronata, known as gayfeather and blazing-star. The next day I went to a part of the Blackland Prairie a mile from the previous afternoon’s sighting (but with an easier place to park) and spent a good while photographing plants of this species. What you’re seeing here is the top of a spike that was two to three times as tall as this flowering part. Note the opening buds near the bottom of the picture; this is apparently a plant whose buds open from the top down.

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I’m leaving for vacation today but I won’t be leaving you without pictures while I’m gone. That said, please understand if I’m slow to reply to comments in the days ahead.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 21, 2014 at 5:43 AM

6.7

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Yesterday morning I heard on a local television station that 6.7 inches (17 cm) of rain had fallen overnight on a part of the Bull Creek watershed just a few miles from where I live in northwest Austin. That’s a lot of water, so I headed out to take pictures in several places, the last of which was a waterfall on a tributary of Bull Creek. Old Spicewood Springs Rd. passes within about 50 ft. (15 m) of it, but because of the dense vegetation and the declivity of the terrain the waterfall isn’t easily visible from the road, and I suspect many or maybe even most of the people who pass by have no idea it exists. (That was true of two City of Austin workers who were taking pictures from the road and whom I told about the falls.) Not only is the waterfall hard to see, but it’s hard to get to when the creek is flowing full and fast. Nevertheless, your intrepid correspondent pushed down the slope through the brush and then cautiously worked his way upstream alongside and just as often in the creek to photograph this great sight. And oh yeah, you’re finally getting some cottony water, thanks to a shutter speed of 1/4 sec.

Large Waterfall in Bull Creek Tributary 9996

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 20, 2014 at 5:27 AM

Not crop circles

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Ruellia nudiflora Flower with Circles 8033

While you’ve probably all heard about the hoaxes called crop circles, here are some strange little circles that I doubt any hoaxer would have taken the time to create. These tiny pale rings are in the petals of a wild petunia*, Ruellia nudiflora, a common wildflower that thrives in Austin’s summer heat. I don’t remember ever seen anything like this, so if anyone has an explanation for these marks, please speak up. One thing I’m sure didn’t create them is miniature alien spacecraft, but if any of you can parlay that into a fad for Petal Circles, I want my share of the royalties.

I took this picture on July 18th during the same jaunt through Great Hills Park that brought you a picture of a turk’s cap flower.

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* Don’t be fooled by the common name. The wild petunia that’s native in Texas belongs to the acanthus family, while garden petunias come from South America and are in the nightshade family.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 19, 2014 at 5:13 AM

Doing our respective things

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Variegated Fritillary Butterfly on Rain-Lily 7216

When I was photographing on September 9th at the end of Perry Lane near 45th Street I was fortunate to have a variegated fritillary, Euptoieta claudia, land on one of the nearby rain-lilies, Cooperia drummondii, and stay there long enough (over three minutes!) for both of us to do our respective things. Notice the chunk missing from yonder wing.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 18, 2014 at 5:33 AM

Can you say svelte? (Alternate title: the return of rain-lilies)

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Rain-Lily Flower with Blue Sky 7041

We had some rain in Austin on September 4th and 7th, so by the 9th a fair number of rain-lilies (Cooperia drummondii) had come out. I photographed this one (and many another) where Perry Lane dead-ends on the west side of Mopac near 45th St.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 17, 2014 at 5:43 AM

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