Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Roots of a large bald cypress tree along Onion Creek in southeast Austin on September 20

with 39 comments

Bald Cypress Roots 6304

Click for larger size and greater detail.

Bald cypress = Taxodium distichum.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 4, 2015 at 4:42 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , , ,

39 Responses

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  1. This one looks as though it could be nicknamed Taxodium medusam. What a tangle of roots, and what great reflections. However deep those still waters may be running, they’re certainly photogenic.


    October 4, 2015 at 5:23 AM

    • Excellent nickname!


      October 4, 2015 at 5:35 AM

      • Agreed. We could say that the choice of name is a reflection of your knowledge of Greek mythology. According to that lore, Medusa met her end at the hand of Perseus, so now I’m wondering if any of the Anglos who cut down so many large bald cypress trees here in the 1800s was named Perseus.

        Steve Schwartzman

        October 4, 2015 at 8:18 AM

        • Always possible but I doubt Perseus was ever a trending name.


          October 5, 2015 at 12:39 AM

          • If you know any people who are expecting, you could be a trendsetter by suggesting Perseus to them in case they have a boy.

            Steve Schwartzman

            October 5, 2015 at 6:51 AM

    • According to Wikipedia:

      “In a late version of the Medusa myth, related by the Roman poet Ovid (Metamorphoses 4.770), Medusa was originally a ravishingly beautiful maiden, ‘the jealous aspiration of many suitors,’ but because Poseidon had raped her in Athena’s temple, the enraged Athena transformed Medusa’s beautiful hair to serpents and made her face so terrible to behold that the mere sight of it would turn onlookers to stone.”

      Talk about blaming, and even more so punishing, the victim.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2015 at 8:52 AM

  2. Amazing root system.


    October 4, 2015 at 5:35 AM

    • And as far as I could tell from the opposite bank, all these roots came from one tree.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2015 at 8:20 AM

      • You mean you didn’t wade/swim through Onion Creek to take a closer look!


        October 4, 2015 at 5:47 PM

        • The creek is relatively low now and would have been crossable but I’d left my thigh-high rubber boots back in the car. In any case, the best view of the roots was from the opposite side of the creek, where I already was.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 4, 2015 at 6:00 PM

  3. This is very pleasing to the eye as well as interesting, Steve. I think the reflections add to the calming/tranquil quality of this image. After my encounter with cypress roots at the uni lakes, your title caught my eye.


    October 4, 2015 at 7:21 AM

    • Your recent post about the bald cypress roots at the uni lakes did indeed prime you for this post. I just hope the bald cypress trees over there won’t become invasive the way that lantana did.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2015 at 8:28 AM

      • I’m fairly sure they won’t be able to take hold like lantana has done. Well, I hope they don’t anyway! 🙂


        October 4, 2015 at 8:50 AM

        • You’re probably right, because bald cypress trees require lots of water, in contrast to lantana, which seems able to spring up and hold its own almost anywhere.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 4, 2015 at 8:54 AM

    • Speaking of reflections: you probably couldn’t help noticing the large slab of rock visible through the reflections at the lower right. I took the picture from the opposite bank of Onion Creek, and behind me on that bank are cliffs that have been eroded to various degrees over the aeons by the water flowing in the creek. Presumably the slab that’s now by the cypress roots started out high on the cliff on the opposite side, from which it would have fallen with enough energy to make its way over to where we currently [note the play on words] see it.

      That also implies that someday a hapless walker along the trail could end up with a similar slab for a tombstone.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2015 at 9:20 AM

      • Well, just be careful where you wander during your photographic explorations, Steve. We don’t want to be having to write your epitaph yet. Now I must retire to bed as it is after midnight here. I’m not getting any younger! 🙂


        October 4, 2015 at 9:34 AM

  4. What a joy to see. It is as if the tree is reassuring us, cypress will come back if given a chance.


    October 4, 2015 at 8:32 AM

    • I’ve noticed that people have been planting bald cypress trees even in places not that close to watercourses, so let’s see if they survive there as well as in their natural environment near creeks and rivers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2015 at 8:37 AM

      • Doesn’t seem likely, but you never know. It would be so good to see our stands of cypress come back, along with the whole ecosystem they fostered along the shorelines. The fact that people are planting them at least suggests a longing for them, which I take for a good sign.


        October 4, 2015 at 8:45 AM

  5. Love the interesting detail and wonderful reflection you captured in your image.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    October 4, 2015 at 2:14 PM

    • You could say it’s a good reflection on my photographic skills—except that anyone else who stood there and pointed a camera in the same direction would also have captured the reflection of the roots in the water. I can’t take any extra credit when I had as interestingly detailed a subject as those roots.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2015 at 2:21 PM

  6. Una fotografía muy interesante, el entramado de raíces se refleja en el agua ¡muy bonito!

    • Mejor un entramado de raíces de un árbol que los trámites de una burocracia ¿no es verdad? (A propósito de raíces, estoy jugando con la raíz tram-.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2015 at 2:40 PM

  7. The reflections of these roots are fabulous!

    Birder's Journey

    October 4, 2015 at 7:59 PM

    • I’ve been to this plenty of times, but for some reason I don’t remember ever getting as pleasing a picture of those roots as I got this time. Different day, different light, different me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2015 at 10:36 PM

  8. What beautiful image Steve, as Nature speaks through You!!

    Maria F.

    October 4, 2015 at 10:02 PM

    • Mediated by my camera and lens, which have to take a good deal of the credit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2015 at 10:36 PM

      • Nonsense. They are nothing without you! Okay, something, but only an entirely inanimate, mindless something. Nearly true of the person *wielding* the camera, in *my* case (good eye, no technical chops whatsoever!!!)…. 😀


        October 5, 2015 at 2:06 PM

        • Hey, you ought to hire on as a publicist for photographers.

          What I meant is that, unlike people like you who have the talent to draw and paint, I can only create images with my camera equipment. I’ll grant you that there are people with lots of fancy equipment who don’t put it to good use, and I’ll accept credit for having developed some good ways of seeing things through a camera.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 5, 2015 at 2:15 PM

  9. Interesting, isn’t it, that a plant so prolific would have been named Bald. Lots of bald people I know would go gaga over having such voluminous growth!


    October 5, 2015 at 2:07 PM

    • That’s a good observation. In this case the “bald” reflects the fact that this is one of the rare conifers that sheds its leaves for the winter.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 5, 2015 at 2:10 PM

  10. The reflection really adds a greater abstract sense to an already abstract shot.

    Steve Gingold

    October 5, 2015 at 6:48 PM

    • I think of this picture as one that’s more like yours than mine (speaking generally, of course).

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 5, 2015 at 7:17 PM

  11. Amazing photograph–quite painterly.


    October 6, 2015 at 12:35 PM

  12. […] If you’d like, you can see Austin’s answer to those pōhutukawa roots. […]

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