Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for April 2015

Just your ordinary highway roadside in Texas in the spring

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Indian Paintbrush and Bluebonnet Colonies 2767

Along FM 1431 in Granite Shoals on April 7th I found these interpenetrating colonies of wildflowers. The red ones are Indian paintbrushes, Castilleja indivisa, and the bluish-purple ones are bluebonnets, Lupinus texensis. This combination occurs naturally in Texas but people across the state are also fond of planting a mix of the two species because they bloom at the same time and their colors go so well together.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 30, 2015 at 5:30 AM

Tansy-mustard by phlox

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Tansy Mustard Flowers by Phlox 1811

On April 7th along TX 71 about 10 miles east of Llano I photographed a wildflower that’s commoner out there than it is in Austin, where I’ve seldom encountered it. The wildflower in question is tansy-mustard, Descurainia pinnata.

The contrasting purple in the background is from some conveniently out-of-focus phlox flowers that were near the base of the taller mustard. What a different way to portray yellow than the last post, don’t you think?

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 29, 2015 at 5:23 AM


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Bladderpod Flowers 2204

When I stopped along TX 29 a little east of Llano on April 7th I found a flowering colony of bladderpods (Lesquerella spp.). If you feel like calling this an apotheosis of yellow you’ll get no argument from me.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 28, 2015 at 5:14 AM

Yucca flowering on a steep slope

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Yucca Flowering on Cliff 2651

To allow FM 1431 to cross the Colorado River just south of Kingsland in the Texas Hill Country, engineers had to cut the roadbed through the flank of a steep hill. The result was an even steeper cliff, and it was at the interface between that cliff and the untouched hillside above it that these yuccas were flowering on April 7th. Three species are possible: I’m leaning toward Yucca torreyi, but Yucca pallida and Yucca constricta also occur in the area.

If you look carefully you can see the bluebonnets, Lupinus texensis, that were mixed in, and it’s hard to miss the pads of prickly pear cactus that are such a common sight in Texas.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 27, 2015 at 5:30 AM

Spider on Texas groundsel

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Spider on Texas Groundsel by Bluebonnets 1983

In many places along the highways in Llano County on April 7th I saw colonies of Texas groundsel, Senecio ampullaceus, some flowers of which provided the background color in the previous photograph. When I took a close look at a few opening buds of that species on TX 71 about 10 miles east of Llano, I noticed this elongated spider from the family Philodromidae and the genus Tibellus (thanks to Joe Lapp for the identification). The made-up name Philodromidae means ‘loves to run,’ and this spider did move around on the opening buds to avoid a close encounter with my macro lens, but to say it ran might be an exaggeration—or else you could consider it poetic license of the arachnid kind.

The contrasting color in the background this time is from some of the many Texas bluebonnets, Lupinus texensis, that were flowering in even more places than the groundsel.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 26, 2015 at 5:19 AM

Rock-cress flowers and buds

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Arabis petiolaris Flowers by Texas Groundsel Flowers 2546

A native plant that I don’t often encounter and that has appeared in these pages only once (when it was well past its flowering stage, at that) is Arabis petiolaris, known as rock-cress or Brazos rock-cress. Here you see the flowers and buds atop one of these ever-erect plants along FM 1431 north of Kingsland in the Texas Hill Country on April 7th. The softly appealing yellow beyond the rock-cress in this mostly downward-looking view came from some Texas groundsel, Senecio ampullaceus, that was flowering closer to the ground.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 25, 2015 at 5:35 AM

Better than fish in a barrel

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A little over a year ago I mentioned that the expression “like shooting fish in a barrel” has never appealed to me. I expect shooting those fish is supposed to be easy because they’re trapped in the barrel and can’t swim away, but wouldn’t the bullets smash the barrel to pieces and allow water (and fish) to spill out all over the place? Hmm. No, if I want to indicate that something is easy I’ll say it’s like shooting wildflowers in Texas. That’s how I felt on April 7th when I spent hours in the Texas Hill Country reveling in the abundant spring wildflowers I found along mile after mile of highway. Today’s post and the ones for the next week will show you some of that day’s flowery abundance.

Let’s begin with this view from TX 71 west of Austin, which records a colony of pink evening primroses, Oenothera speciosa. There’s that speciosa again, meaning ‘showy, look-worthy’ in Latin.

Pink Evening Primrose Colony 1684

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 24, 2015 at 5:07 AM

Wild geranium

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Wild Geranium Flower 9922

Here’s a little wildflower that’s never appeared in these pages before: Geranium carolinianum, known as wild geranium. When I say it’s a little wildflower I’m not kidding, because flowers of this species are only about a quarter of an inch across (roughly 6 mm for you of the metric persuasion). Although this geranium flower was pristine, if you look closely you’ll see that something had chomped a few bits out of the plant’s greenery.

This picture comes from Bartholomew Park along E. 51st St. on March 27th. That was the same outing that produced the pictures of the huisache and redbud trees that were the subjects of the last three posts.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 23, 2015 at 5:38 AM

A redbud tree’s new leaf

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New Redbud Tree Leaf 0028A

A few posts back you saw a redbud tree that was already beginning to leaf out on March 27th but whose blossoms were still the attention-getters. On the same outing along E. 51st St. I found a couple of smaller redbud trees, Cercis canadensis, growing in relative isolation and flowerlessness. I noticed that their new leaves looked particularly attractive with the sunlight coming through them, and although having the sun in front of me made photographing the leaves difficult because of the frequent artifacts of light produced in the camera’s lens, I took up the challenge. Here’s one of the abstract pictures that came out of my attempts. In seeing the curve of the leaf’s lobe and the very dark, mostly vertical shaft that widens as it goes down, I’m reminded of a harp.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 22, 2015 at 5:50 AM

A close look at some huisache flower globes

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Huisache Flowers Close 0181A

Click for better clarity.

In contrast to the last view of a huisache, Acacia farnesiana, with a galaxy of flowers spread across it, here’s a close look at a few of the tree’s little flower globes. The typical diameter of a fully formed globe is from one-quarter to three-eighths of an inch (6mm–9mm). The flowers are very fragrant, but I still haven’t found a way to send you the scent over the Internet.

Like the previous picture, this one is from E. 51st St. on March 27th.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 21, 2015 at 12:51 PM

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