Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for June 2015

A small white snail that climbed onto a drying basket-flower

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Small White Snail on Dry Basket-Flower 2998

This is from May 29th on the Pflugerville-Round Rock border. I can tell you that the basket-flower is Centaurea americana, but for me the snail remains Molluscus unknownus.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 30, 2015 at 5:37 AM

Cardinal flower

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Cardinal Flower Flowers Close 6634

In a comment a couple of days ago, Lavinia Ross noted that the rich red standing cypress flowers in that morning’s post reminded her of those of the cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis. In my reply I mentioned that that species has a large range, in fact one that includes climates both cold and hot, and that we have cardinal flowers in Austin, too, just as the Northeast of the United States does. I was going to point to a previous post for a comparison between the two red flowers, but I discovered that after four years I’d still never shown a picture of a cardinal flower. Today’s post fills the lacuna, and that’s an appropriate word, because the cardinal flower thrives close to, at the edge of, or even in a body of water (if it’s not too deep).

I took this moody and rather abstract picture on the bank of a creek in my hilly northwestern part of Austin on October 13, 2014.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 29, 2015 at 5:16 AM

Antelope horns milkweed fluff and a cast-off spider exoskeleton

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Antelope Horns Milkweed Fluff with Molted Spider Exoskeleton 3491

Near the end of our nature walk at David and Jolyn’s place in Dripping Springs on May 30th, I knelt to photograph the first split-open pod I’d seen this year of an antelope horns milkweed, Asclepias asperula, and in the fluff I noticed a spider’s cast-off exoskeleton. Color aside, it does look something like one of the milkweed’s silk-bearing seeds, don’t you think?

To see the many places in the southwestern United States where this species of milkweed grows, you can check out the USDA map.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 28, 2015 at 4:48 AM

Standing cypress red and green

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Standing Cypress Flowering 3370

On May 30th we visited our friends David and Jolyn in Dripping Springs, which lies about an hour west of our home in Austin. On their property I photographed this handsome stand of Ipomopsis rubra, known as standing cypress and Texas plume.

This is the most vividly verdant view of any I’ve shown of standing cypress (all of which you’re welcome to scroll back down through).

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 27, 2015 at 5:27 AM

Basket-flower by other wildflowers

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Basket-Flower Flower Head from Side 3577

A month ago a flourishing colony of basket-flowers, Centaurea americana, appeared here, and yesterday a portion of a basket-flower served as a soft and pastel pedestal for a red admiral butterfly, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t show you a closer look at one of these flower heads in its own right. Today’s view is from Tejas Camp in Williamson County on June 1.

Most species in the Asteraceae, known as the sunflower family or daisy family or composite family, produce heads with two different-looking sets of small flowers: in the center are densely packed disk flowers, and radiating (i.e. ray-diating) out around them are ray flowers; think of your typical daisy and you’ll get the picture. Some species in this family, however, produce only one of the two kinds of flowers. That’s the case with the basket-flower, and even though you might think that it has white disk flowers surrounded by lavender ray flowers, all of them are disk flowers, despite the color difference. Not all that glitters is gold.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 26, 2015 at 4:59 AM

Red admiral butterfly on basket-flower

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Red Admiral Butterfly on Basket-Flower 3998

Here’s a ventral view of a red admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) on a basket-flower (Centaurea americana) in Leander on the first day of June.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 25, 2015 at 5:32 AM

Rose pavonia

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Pavonia Mallow Flower 8158

A couple of days ago Steve Gingold showed a picture of a rose pogonia. By coincidence, when I was in Great Hills Park yesterday I photographed a rose pavonia, so I thought I should present a photograph of it here as a follow-up to the flower with such a similar-sounding name. (This plant is also called pavonia mallow and rose mallow, and its scientific name is Pavonia lasiopetala.)

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that points 1, 2, 5 and 20 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 24, 2015 at 5:20 AM

A snapshot

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Common Snapping Turtle 0550

Let’s go back to earlier days in the rainy spring of 2015, for which drought-afflicted Texas is mostly glad (the flooding in various places being exceptions to the gladness). I went out on the morning of May 6th to see how rapidly Bull Creek was flowing and to experiment with pictures of churning water. At one point I walked down a small trail and was startled to confront a turtle at least a foot (30 cm) long. It remained largely unperturbed as I made portrait after portrait of it, and often from closer quarters than you see here, but that may have been a bit foolhardy because Tim Cole later identified this for me as a common snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina. Fortunately I was the only one of the two who did any snapping.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 23, 2015 at 5:20 AM

On the other side of earth’s orbit

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Ageratina havanensis Flowering 7384

There’s nothing unusual about these flowers of Ageratina havanensis per se, but the fact that I found them in Austin on June 8—and other blossoming specimens of the shrub in mid-May—is unusual, because this is normally a fall-blooming bush. One hypothesis is that all the rain we’ve had here this spring triggered this out-of-sync flowering, but at the same time I haven’t seen any other fall flowers coming out prematurely. Oh well, each species is special, right?

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 22, 2015 at 5:30 AM

New Zealand: Two more views of the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki on the 17th of February

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Punakaiki Pancake Rocks 5164

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks 5177

And let’s hear it as well for the native vegetation atop parts of these scenic rocks.

Today’s post marks the end of the fourth and penultimate* sequence of pictures from my February trip to New Zealand. Tomorrow it’ll be back to central Texas for a while (where the rains have been back, too).


* Some people have a mistaken idea of what penultimate means.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 21, 2015 at 5:06 AM

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