Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Sheltered colors

with 6 comments

Colorful Rhus triloba in Shelter of Sotol 0295

Several times during the Trans-Pecos visit I noticed Rhus trilobata, known as skunkbush and three-leaf sumac, which also grows in Austin. Like other Rhus species, three-leaf sumac has compound leaves that tend to turn colors in the fall. That’s what you see happening to this sapling in the shelter of some sotols, Dasylirion spp., in the Chisos Basin at Big Bend National Park on November 23.

A lot is going on in this little scene aside from the emergence of the prominent red in the sumac. Notice how the sotol’s fresh leaves contrast in color and linearity with its tan ones. Less conspicuously, note that what was once a sotol flower stalk now lies fallen and gray on the ground in the lower left corner of the photograph. And then there are those scraggly dead branches of some other plant reaching in from the opposite corner.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 20, 2015 at 5:00 AM

6 Responses

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  1. Yes, absolutely, this is a wonderful study in texture, line and color. I love it. The Sotol makes a wonderful foil for the sumac. I always enjoy finding little vignettes like this in the field.

    melissabluefineart

    December 20, 2015 at 8:37 AM

    • Let’s hear it for vivacious vignettes (even if some of the elements in this one are dead or moribund). Like you, I’m always happy when I can find an intricate interaction among plants (or other things).

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2015 at 9:35 AM

  2. I can’t think of a better illustration for that Camus quotation you featured on your other blog: “Un deuxième printemps, où toutes les feuilles sont comme des fleurs.” This is beautifully complex. Even the gray of the dead leaves and branches seems to help hold the other elements together, and the sumac colors are luscious.

    shoreacres

    December 20, 2015 at 3:39 PM

    • I hadn’t thought about that Camus quotation applying to this picture, so thanks for the reminder. It’s also good to hear you’re complicit in enjoying the complexity.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2015 at 3:52 PM

  3. Among the many things I enjoy in your posts is the opportunity to see unique plants in unique environments…unique to me, of course, and relatively common to you. Nice combination of colors and earth tones.

    Steve Gingold

    December 22, 2015 at 4:12 AM

    • It’s reciprocal. You have lots of things in New England that don’t grow down here in what was once a part of New Spain—including several species of sumac.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 22, 2015 at 6:33 AM


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