Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for September 2015

I thought down was the new up but now I see it was more up than down.

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Snailseed Vine with Fruit on Bridge 4895

Longtime visitors know that I don’t usually include human elements in the photographs I show here—which is why these nature pictures are nature pictures—but on September 5th I was taken with the way this snailseed vine, Cocculus carolinus, had found a roothold on a side of the bridge along Discovery Blvd. adjacent to the Costco in Cedar Park. While I originally thought the whole vine was hanging from the top, a closer look at the full-size image had me crossing over to the discovery that most of the vine was still growing in its usual upward direction, even if a few parts were hanging.

For a much closer look at the leaves and fruits of this tenacious snailseed, click the icon below.

Snailseed Fruit and Leaves 4899

Today marks the first time here that you’ve been afforded a clear look at a snailseed vine. In 2012 an out-of-focus snailseed fruit provided a red glow behind a strange-looking larva.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 21, 2015 at 5:14 AM

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Same place and time, a very different view

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Rain-Lily Bud by Neptunia 5702

In contrast to the previous post’s September 15th panorama of rain-lilies, Cooperia drummondii, here I got in close for a minimalist treatment of a budding rain-lily in that same colony. The hazy “sun” behind the rain-lily was a conveniently out-of-focus flower globe of Neptunia pubescens, known as tropical neptunia or tropical puff. The pink in the upper background may have come from some of the aging flowers in the colony (whose colors you can reacquaint yourselves with), or perhaps from a silverleaf nightshade flower. Whatever caused that color, I like having it in the picture; don’t you?

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 20, 2015 at 5:33 AM

Rain-lilies along Mopac

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Rain-Lily Panorama 5735

Click for some zesty zooming.

During the morning rush hour on September 15th I worked my way gingerly across the west-side access road of Mopac, the second-busiest expressway in Austin, to photograph this long colony of rain-lilies, Cooperia drummondii, that had sprung up after some rain a few days earlier. Contrast this multitude with the single flower I found behind Central Market on August 26th after an earlier rainfall that called forth many fewer rain-lilies.

If you look carefully at the far left portion of the zoomed version of the photograph you’ll see parts of a few lavender-colored flowers. They’re silverleaf nightshade, Solanum elaeagnifolium, and several of them were mixed in with the taller, more prominent, and far more numerous rain-lilies. On the other hand, in the four days since I took this picture, the rain-lilies have already shriveled and faded, while the hardy nightshade flowers are still going strong.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 19, 2015 at 4:41 AM

Alamo vine, takes 2 and 3

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Alamo Vine Dry Strands 0121

Yesterday’s post mentioned that Merremia dissecta is commonly known as alamo vine, and the first of today’s photographs, again from March 27th along E. 51st St., confirms that the plant is indeed a vine (although in this case a dried-out one). The photograph below, from August 20th near Shoal Creek below 34th St., shows an ant on a developing alamo vine fruit.

Ant on Alamo Vine Capsule 1510

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 18, 2015 at 5:39 AM

Alamo, take 2; snails, take 2, except this time there’s only one and it’s tiny

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Tiny Snail on Alamo Vine Seed Capsule Remains 0067

So here are different takes on two recently treated things. Yesterday’s post about a cottonwood leaf mentioned that alamo is the Spanish word for that kind of tree. Central Texas is also home to a plant in the morning-glory family known as alamo vine, Merremia dissecta, which makes its debut in these pages today. In this photograph from March 27th along E. 51st St. you’re looking at the distinctive remains of one of this species’ seed capsules. After I got in close to take pictures, I was surprised to find a tiny snail on one of its ragged flanges.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 17, 2015 at 4:44 AM

Remembering the alamo again

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New Cottonwood Tree Leaf 4636

Alamo is the Spanish name for the tree that English calls cottonwood and that botanists know as Populus deltoides. This tree readily springs up near sources of water, so it’s not surprising that on September 4th I saw several cottonwood saplings near the pond between Dessau Rd. and Knowell Dr. in a new subdivision on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin. I don’t know what the red spot on the leaf was.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 16, 2015 at 5:29 AM

Greater earless lizard

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Greater Earless Lizard 3561

On August 31st out by Lake Travis I photographed my first Cophosaurus texanus, known as the greater earless lizard. Whether earless is also hearless I don’t know, but I do know that this pale lizard blended in well with the rocks in its environment.

If you’d like to know more about this guy, you’re welcome to read an informative article (which is what leads me to believe this is indeed a guy).

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 15, 2015 at 4:51 AM

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Blazing-star

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It’s time for the flowering of Liatris mucronata, known as gayfeather and blazing-star. Can you see the figurative little stars blazing away in there?

Today’s view comes from September 4th on the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville.

Liatris Flower Spike Close 4344

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 14, 2015 at 5:32 AM

Dragonfly atop horsetail

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Dragonfly on Horsetail Strobilus 2189

From August 26th alongside the pond behind the Central Market on North Lamar (on the same outing that recently brought you a closeup of a rain-lily), here’s a dragonfly that I take to be a male blue dasher, Pachydiplax longipennis, clasping the strobilus of a horsetail, Equisetum spp. For a much closer look at the dragonfly’s face, click the thumbnail below. For a closer look at the dashing male (but not blue) photographer’s face, come visit me in Austin.

Dragonfly on Horsetail Strobilus 2189 Detail

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 13, 2015 at 5:12 AM

And here’s a buffalo bur flower

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Buffalo Bur Flower 2375

Last time you saw some opening buds of buffalo bur, Solanum rostratum, and now here’s a fully open flower. Compare this yellow-on-yellow flower to its two-tone genus-mate Solanum dimidiatum (and compare this nine-hyphens-in-three-noun-phrases sentence to any you or I have written recently). This time most of the spines you might otherwise see are hidden under the flower, but I count three shadowy ones reaching out like a would-be claw beneath the juncture of the two closest petals, and there’s another spine on the stem below that. On the other hand, perhaps you’re saying to yourself: who cares about counting spines when I’ve got those crazy curvy little banana-like stamens to look at?

Today’s photograph, like the previous one, is from the same July 23rd outing along Muir Lake Trail in Cedar Park that brought you the recent picture of a damselfly with hangers-on.

Yesterday Charlie@SeattleTrekker asked about the seeds of this species. I haven’t posted a picture of the seeds per se, but here’s one that shows a spent seed capsule and its entourage of spines.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 12, 2015 at 5:19 AM

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