Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for September 2015

On rare occasions 3 = 5.

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Poison Ivy with Five Leaflets 6189

“Leaves of three, let it be,” goes an old adage that’s meant to guide people away from the three “leaves” of poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicans. I put “leaves” in quotation marks because, technically speaking, poison ivy has compound leaves, each of which is normally made up of three leaflets; those three leaflets together comprise one (and only one) leaf.

Now for the word normally in that last sentence: a poison ivy leaf almost always produces three leaflets, but once in a rare while it produces five, as you can confirm in today’s photograph taken in Great Hills Park on April 27th. The picture you saw yesterday of a poison ivy vine climbing a rough-barked tree reminded me of my earlier sighting, which I’d meant to report to you but had forgotten about, so here it is now.

In case you’re wondering, the other leaves on this poison ivy plant had their normal complement of three leaflets.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 30, 2015 at 5:29 AM

Poison ivy vine on a rough-barked tree

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Poison Ivy Vine with Rootlets on Rough Bark 6266

This vine that put out rootlets to attach itself to the tree it has climbed is poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicans. In conjunction with those rootlets I like the texture of the tree’s rough bark finely covered with lichen, but at the same time I recognize that few people like anything having to do with the dread poison ivy.

Today’s photograph is from September 19th in Great Hills Park.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 29, 2015 at 4:56 AM

Looking up to a Maximilian sunflower

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On September 20th I went back to Blunn Creek Preserve, the scene of yesterday’s earlier photograph of snow-on-the-prairie, and found some Maximilian sunflowers, Helianthus maximiliani, doing their thing. Here’s a flower head of one of them.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, points 1, 3, and 24 in About My Techniques pertain to this image.

Maximilian Sunflower Flower Head and Cumulus Cloud 6345

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 28, 2015 at 5:27 AM

Results of the copper lily poll

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Here are the results of the poll about the four copper lily photographs that appeared on September 25th. Beneath each of the four images I’ve put the percent of votes it has garnered as of now.

You can see that picture #1 proved the clear favorite, getting more than half the votes. Part of that may have been a bias toward whatever picture happened to come first, and in a proper survey different people would have seen the pictures in a different order to compensate for any effects of position, as opposed to the intrinsic appeal of each image. Even so, it seems picture #1 would have come in first regardless of the order of the photographs.

(Maybe it should run for president of the United States. With high favorables and no unfavorables that I’m aware of, picture #1 would be a strong candidate.)

Copper Lily Flower 5992


Copper Lily Flower 6055


Copper Lilies Fresh and Shriveled 5988


Copper Lily Flower 6048


© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 27, 2015 at 11:22 AM

Snow-on-the-prairie not on the prairie

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Snow-on-the-Prairie Flowering 5091

All right, so the Blunn Creek Preserve in south Austin isn’t a prairie, but there on September 14th I found this happily flowering snow-on-the-prairie, Euphorbia bicolor. You don’t have to speak Latin to recognize that the two colors the bicolor refers to are green and white.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 27, 2015 at 4:48 AM

Vulture atop Ashe juniper

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Vulture Atop Ashe Juniper Tree 4062

After I stopped to photograph some flowering cenizo bushes on September 2, I noticed a group of black vultures, Coragyps atratus, feeding on the carcass of a small animal. When I got closer I could tell that it was a rabbit, but my approach scared the vultures away. One flew up and settled on the top of an Ashe juniper tree, Juniperus ashei, as you see here.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 26, 2015 at 5:27 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Polling comes to the copper lily

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On September 15th I photographed some copper lilies, Habranthus tubispathus, that recent rain had caused to spring up on an undeveloped property near the eastern end of Balcones Woods Drive. Me being me, I experimented with portraying the individual flowers in artful ways, and now you being you get the chance to say which one of the four portraits shown below you find the most appealing. I’ll announce the results in a day or two.

Of course in addition (or instead) you’re still welcome to comment about the photographs or the copper lilies themselves or about online polls or whatever other topics this post conjures up in your mind.


Copper Lily Flower 5992



Copper Lily Flower 6055



Copper Lilies Fresh and Shriveled 5988



Copper Lily Flower 6048



© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 25, 2015 at 5:05 AM

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