Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for January 2015

Back in Texas

with 13 comments

Desert Marigold and Other Wildflowers 3925

October 4, 2014, was the last day of my Great Southwest Trip, and it was spent entirely in Texas. A few hours east of El Paso along Interstate 10 but still in the western part of the state and hundreds of miles from home, I pulled over and photographed these wildflowers by the side of the highway. The prominent yellow heads are desert marigolds, Baileya multiradiata, which don’t grow as far east as central Texas. The white heads at the left are blackfoot daisies, Melampodium leucanthum, which do grow in Austin. The violet-colored flowers appear to be verbena, but I can’t be specific.

This photograph, which is more documentary than artistic, bears witness to the fact that dry and nondescript plots of ground in Texas can still be home to several or even many species of wildflowers. The Lone Star State might well be called the Long Stare State for appreciators of wildflowers, who are often left in a state of admiration.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 31, 2015 at 5:39 AM

Ocotillo and mountains at sundown

with 21 comments

Ocotillo and Mountains at Sundown 3901

Later on October 3, 2014, I pulled over at another rest area on Interstate 10. This time it was the one above Las Cruces, New Mexico, and I photographed an ocotillo (Fouquiera splendens) against a backdrop of the Organ Mountains at sundown. You can see that the upper portion of the closer ocotillo stalk still had a trace of sunlight on it, while the lower portion was already in shadow.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 30, 2015 at 5:31 AM

Masses of sunflowers and boulders

with 15 comments

Sunflowers and Boulders 3767

Having begun to head for home on October 3, 2014, and with Tucson already behind us in the west, I pulled over at the Texas Canyon rest area on Interstate 10 in Arizona. What prompted my stop was the natural piles of boulders along the highway there, but as I started down the exit ramp for the rest area I noticed various kinds of wildflowers. The ones you’re looking at here are obviously in the sunflower family, but I’m afraid I can’t be more specific: stranger in a strange land, and all that.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 29, 2015 at 5:28 AM

Ball moss on twig

with 21 comments

Ball Moss on Dead Twig 9967

Here’s a ball moss, Tillandsia recurvata, on a dead twig at Devine Lake Park in Leander on November 26, 2014. In the Truth in Advertising department, let me add that a ball moss forms a clump or cluster rather than a ball and isn’t a moss but an epiphyte. That second reality means that these plants sometimes grow on non-living things like outdoor sculptures and metal fences.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 28, 2015 at 5:25 AM

ISO 5000

with 51 comments

Fox Squirrel on Ashe Juniper by Yaupon Fruit 0997

Austin was often overcast this past December, including the morning of the 14th, when I noticed this fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) on a branch of the Ashe juniper (Juniperus ashei) outside my window. There was so little light for a photograph that I cranked up the ISO on my Canon 5D Mark III to 5000, which is most likely the highest I’ve ever gone. The resulting pictures were a little grainy but still passable.

A yaupon tree (Ilex vomitoria) is responsible for the small red drupes visible in several places in the photograph. It’s not unusual from late autumn through winter to see a squirrel bite off and eat one of those fruits, or even several in succession. I don’t think a human would find them palatable, but then a squirrel probably wouldn’t find ketchup or cherry pie or marinara sauce or strawberry jam palatable (I’m thinking red here, folks).

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 27, 2015 at 5:10 AM

Cholla and creosote

with 28 comments

Cholla Remains and Flowering Creosote 3314

In the Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park outside Tucson on October 3, 2014, I was fascinated by the highly textured remains of this cholla cactus. I don’t know which species of cholla it was, but I do know that the plant with the yellow flowers behind it was a creosote bush, Larrea tridentata.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 26, 2015 at 5:13 AM

The other fasciated species I saw in the Southwest

with 24 comments

Fishhook Barrel Cactus with Fasciated Flowers 3038

After the fasciated saguaro you recently saw and the fasciated spectacle pod you’d seen last fall, I’m finishing up that theme by showing you the other fasciated species I encountered in the Southwest: Ferocactus wislizeni, known as a fishhook barrel cactus. Normally its flowers are (approximately) round, but you can see that the two prominent ones on this specimen were stretched out. (If you’d like, you can compare the similar elongation in a prairie verbena flower head that appeared here in 2013.)

I took this picture near the visitor center for Sabino Canyon in northeast Tucson on October 2, 2014, shortly before I came across a fasciated saguaro close by (different from the one I found the following day that you’ve already seen.)

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 25, 2015 at 5:30 AM

%d bloggers like this: