Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for December 2014

Monochrome marsh fleabane colony

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Marsh Fleabane Colony Dried Out 9901

I found this expansively monochrome colony of marsh fleabane, Pluchea odorata, gone to seed and drying out in the also drying bed of Devine Lake in Leander on November 26th.

Goodbye, 2014. We won’t see you again.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 31, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Cold enough once again

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Frostweed Ice 1225

The outside thermometer yesterday morning read 37°F (3°C), and because a few nearby roofs were white I thought I’d make myself an honorary northerner for a change and try to photograph some frost. Instead, and to my surprise, I found once again that a couple of dozen frostweed plants (Verbesina virginica) in Great Hills Park had done their overnight ice trick, and that’s what I ended up taking pictures of. The photograph I posted in November showed the ice against a blue sky, so I’ve chosen a different sort of view for today’s post; this one, unlike the last, was taken in natural light rather than with a flash.

If you’re unfamiliar with this strange phenomenon, you can go back to a post from 2011 that explained it.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 30, 2014 at 5:16 AM

Corky flanges and colorful leaves

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Cedar Elm Flanges and Changing Leaves 1055

What books call the “corky flanges” on cedar elm trees, Ulmus crassifolia, are strange structures, typically wider than the branches they grow on. Here you see some particularly broad ones, along with a few unusually colorful cedar elm leaves, along the Boatright Memorial Trail in northwest Austin on December 15th. Talk about chaos, right?

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 29, 2014 at 5:32 AM

Goldenrod when it’s no longer golden

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Goldenrod Turned Fluffy with Fleecy Clouds 8857

How about this tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima) that had gone to seed and turned fluffy, like the clouds above it? Today’s photograph goes back to November 24th along Burleson Rd. in southeast Austin.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 28, 2014 at 5:16 AM

A tendency to turn yellow

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Pearl Milkweed Vine Leaves Turned Yellow 0790

I’ve noticed that the leaves of Matelea reticulata, the pearl milkweed vine, have a tendency to turn yellow toward the end of the year (and occasionally at other times too). When I was photographing along Great Northern Blvd. on the overcast morning (hence the gray background) of December 3rd I came across this unusually vivid example, even to the point that the yellow was shading into orange. No one’s keeping score, but go ahead and add this to the series of late-fall foliage you’ve been seeing here for weeks. You can also add the fact that the darker little leaf came from a cedar elm tree, Ulmus crassifolia. Most likely the vine had recently been growing on a cedar elm but somehow became detached and took the leaf along with it. There’s also a possibility, though I think a less likely one, that the leaf fell off a cedar elm higher up and got caught on the milkweed vine on its way down.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 27, 2014 at 5:41 AM

Both sides now, again

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Pearl Milkweed Pod Beginning to Open 0838


A couple of comments about this morning’s photograph seemed to call for a follow-up, so now that you’ve had a chance to contemplate the surface of a pod produced by Matelea reticulata, the pearl milkweed vine, here’s a look at the opposite side of the same pod you saw last time. No one’s mother does a better job of packing this slender suitcase—or more accurately seedcase—than Mother Nature, as you can tell from the contents partly visible through the widening slit.

This photograph once again comes from December 3rd along Great Northern Blvd.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 26, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Another podcast

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Pearl Milkweed Pod 0839A

In the last post you saw a flower of the pearl milkweed vine, Matelea reticulata, and now here’s a look at the kind of pod that this species produces. Just as the flower has an interesting pattern on it, so is the pod interestingly textured, both in its surface design and its pointy protrusions. The dark spots appear to be tiny spiders, mites, or ticks (though I’m glad to say I didn’t get ticked off).

Like the previous photograph, this one comes from December 3rd along Great Northern Blvd.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 26, 2014 at 5:36 AM

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