Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A better look at yellow stonecrop

with 21 comments

Yellow Stonecrop Flowering with Funnel Web 1046

The last photograph gave you an overview of a Texas Hill Country wildflower meadow that featured a colony of yellow stonecrop, Sedum nuttallianum. On May 13th I went back to the undeveloped area along Yaupon Dr. and managed to put in just a few minutes of picture taking before a drizzle began that soon forced me to stop. It was just as well that I quit when I was still near my car, because a little later the drizzle turned into real rain.

Some things to observe in this downward-looking photograph:

The yellow stonecrop had noticeably advanced in its flowering compared to the view from a week earlier. If you’re wondering about size, an individual flower is about a quarter of an inch (6 mm) across.

Where the dark ground is visible through the stonecrop, you can more easily make out the tiny drizzle drops in the broad funnel web that covers two-thirds of the low plants shown here.

Peer carefully into the web’s dark funnel and you can make out the spider lurking in there. If you want a better look at a funnel web spider, you’re welcome to check out one from 2012 and an even closer one from last October.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 20, 2015 at 5:26 AM

21 Responses

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  1. So many layers of beauty and interest here. You obviously have an eye for spotting funnel web spiders.


    May 20, 2015 at 5:36 AM

    • From a distance my eyes saw the web as a hazy, discrepant area over the low plants, and when I got closer the dark funnel was a second thing that wouldn’t normally belong in a stonecrop group. Funnel webs are fairly common in central Texas, but getting good pictures of the spiders in them is hard, and only occasionally have I managed to get one.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 20, 2015 at 7:24 AM

  2. This is a great shot, Steve, but I was even more impressed by your ferocious funnel fiend post that you referred us to. I need that one on my door to scare away the salespeople. It’s beautiful as well as menacing.


    May 20, 2015 at 6:31 AM

    • Now there’s a novel idea: a photo of a ferocious spider to fend off salespeople. You could use a picture of one of your super-venomous Australian spiders, whichever one the public would most easily recognize.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 20, 2015 at 7:28 AM

  3. I can’t quite tell if the web is obscuring some of the stonecrop’s flowers, or if, in fact, there are fewer flowers blooming beneath the web. The difference in bloom density seems noticeable, though. Isn’t that an interesting thought: that even the shadow of a web might reduce sunlight enough to discourage blooming.


    May 20, 2015 at 7:23 AM

    • I, too, noticed the greater flower density along the left edge of the colony, but I don’t know how long the web had been there. If for several days, then your hypothesis about reducing the light and delaying the flowering seems a good one. Another research topic for a graduate student in biology who needs one.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 20, 2015 at 7:38 AM

  4. I first studied the photo and blinked a few times trying to focus and decide what I was seeing. It’s still early.

    Then, I read ‘…things to observe…’ and things came into focus.

    Jim in IA

    May 20, 2015 at 9:34 AM

    • Something seemed wrong with my vision, too, when I caught site of this patch from a distance, but a closer look cleared things up, literally as well as figuratively.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 20, 2015 at 11:48 AM

  5. Erk, a lurker! I really like this plant. Recently I was given a Sedum ternatum for my garden. Really it appears in southern Illinois but I’m happy to have it. I have a collection of stones, so I hope I can get it to grow tucked in among them.


    May 20, 2015 at 10:50 AM

  6. I do think I see 8 little beady eyes looking out at us. Speaking of 8…that is the number of sedum species we have in New England…none of which are native.

    Steve Gingold

    May 20, 2015 at 3:47 PM

    • You did better at counting beady eyes here than I did.

      During my visit to Massachusetts three years ago, I became peripherally aware that plant nurseries there were selling Sedums of various kinds. I’m not surprised to hear that the eight species in your list aren’t native.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 20, 2015 at 3:56 PM

  7. We have the stonecrop in our garden too, and it’s a favorite. Magnificent shot of the funnel web spider from last October–I’m sorry I missed that when you posted it. Thanks for including the link!


    May 21, 2015 at 9:28 PM

    • I don’t mind saying that that spider picture from last fall is worth looking at again (or for the first time). Which stonecrop do you have in your garden?

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 21, 2015 at 9:34 PM

  8. Steve, are you taking part in National Geographic’s Great Nature Project? I’ll be uploading images later – too many for the time I’ll hve w/faster internet.. but there will be some species that I have no idea what they area.. “People like you” are very helpful when one requests help on the uploads; here’s an example where someone helped: http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/1515487 and here’s the N.Geo main page: http://greatnatureproject.org

    • Thanks for making me aware of it, Lisa. My botanical knowledge is limited to central Texas, but that’s still a part of the world.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 22, 2015 at 8:39 AM

      • i’ve had very little time to explore the ‘map’ but i think you can select your area of texas and see what’s been uploaded and if anyone requested help… it appears to be a very user-friendly site, and i look forward to uploading soon.. but it’s time for a breakfast break! i’m in town to rest and to use the internet from the convenience of my hostal room!

  9. Look! Yellow Stonecrop *and* a toad. 🙂



    May 22, 2015 at 9:17 AM

    • Now that’s quite a combination. Thanks for pointing it out. In central Texas it would be rare to find stonecrop in a little pool of water, but with all the rain we’ve been having, who knows if I won’t find a frog or toad in a colony here as well. Let’s hope so.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 22, 2015 at 9:21 AM

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