Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Bushy bluestem and bald cypress

with 14 comments

Bushy Bluestem Snagged on Bald Cypress 7640

Click for better quality.

On November 18th I made my first visit to a natural area called Jacob’s Well in Wimberley, a town about an hour southwest of Austin. One thing that caught my attention was this seed head of bushy bluestem, Andropogon glomeratus, that had gotten caught as well. Its captor was a low branch of a bald cypress tree, Taxodium distichum, whose needle-like leaves were turning the rich orange-brown they take on in the fall.

To compose this picture I lay down and aimed the camera mostly upward. That accounts for what may strike you as a strange perspective, but it’s the view that many animals walking on the ground would get of the same scene. If you want to orient yourself, be aware that the tree’s white trunk, which was actually vertical, intersects the lower border of the picture about a third of the way over from the right. The non-traditional angle at which I took the picture foreshortened the trunk and made it appear to be leaning.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 12, 2014 at 5:37 AM

14 Responses

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  1. Now we need someone up in the tree looking down on you. That would be another strange perspective.

    Gallivanta

    December 12, 2014 at 6:23 AM

  2. Blue skies and bluestem and rusty-red cypress,
    sun shining brightly through branches in best dress;
    photos that capture the fall as it sings —
    these are a few of my favorite things!

    ( know you know the tune…)
    .

    shoreacres

    December 12, 2014 at 6:38 AM

    • Shades of Oscar Hammerstein! (Yes, I know Richard Rodgers’s tune but no one would want to hear me sing it). You’ve reminded me that when I spent the summer of 1966 in Lisbon I noticed that the Portuguese title for the movie was Música no Coração, literally Music in the Heart:

      Of course Julie Andrews still sang in English and the film was subtitled.

      In a botanical vein, your mention of blue skies and bluestem reminds me that in the fall the grasses called bluestem give up any claim to that name they might have had earlier in the year and put on warm colors appropriate for the season. And then bushy bluestem adds the unique fluff that’s a delight to see and photograph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 12, 2014 at 7:04 AM

  3. Cool perspective and lovely colors from sky and cypress. Up here in the Northeast, I look for bluestem grasses in uplands because they are the foodplant for a neat skipper, Dusted Skipper.

    tomwhelan

    December 12, 2014 at 7:31 AM

    • It was a beautiful fall day, and everything seemed so vivid. I took this picture in a creek bed that fortunately for me was dry in the section where this bald cypress grew.

      Your comment about food plants sent me to the website of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which reports that bushy bluestem is a larval host not only to the dusted skipper you mentioned but also to the ottoe skipper, Indian skipper, crossline skipper, cobweb butterfly, and Dixie skipper.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 12, 2014 at 7:51 AM

  4. Your photo is gorgeous and I enjoyed the perspective on the world you have that you shared with us…Have a great weekend.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    December 12, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    • Thanks, Charlie. I’m often on the lookout for unusual perspectives, and not just in photography, though that’s the subject of this blog. The autumn sunshine that day was wonderful, and I was happy to look up at this tree and grass in the clear light.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 12, 2014 at 1:09 PM

  5. When I first saw the image, I thought you had shot the world’s largest hairy caterpillar. The blue of the sky is wonderful and warming.

    Steve Gingold

    December 12, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    • The world’s largest hairy caterpillar: your imagination is running high this afternoon.

      The blue sky that did a great job here of setting off the warm tones of the bald cypress and bushy bluestem is the one I wished I’d had when I went to Lost Maples four days earlier, but we do what we can do with what we get.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 12, 2014 at 3:05 PM

  6. […] Growing adjacent to the sapling and even partly mixed in with it was some bushy bluestem, Andropogon glomeratus, a native grass that co-starred in the previous post. […]


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