Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for March 2016

Sun emerging below sunset clouds

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Sun Emerging Below Sunset Clouds 6969

Taken with a telephoto lens from the southeast corner of Floral Park Drive and Misting Falls Trail on March 3.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 21, 2016 at 5:19 AM

From buds to flowers

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Coral Honeysuckly Flowers 5659

Near the beginning of January I showed you some buds of coral honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens, that I’d seen out of season a couple of weeks earlier. When I was at the Arbor Walk Pond on February 22nd I saw some of that same kind of honeysuckle that had flowered and was making a vivid contrast with the blue sky (at least when looked at from down low, about which vantage point I’ve already given you the lowdown). Another name for this wildflower is trumpet honeysuckle; those are some long, long trumpets, don’t you think?

And here’s what some new growth on this kind of vine looked like that day:

Coral Honeysuckle New Growth 5671

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 20, 2016 at 5:05 AM

Forms and textures of a browning leaf and yellowing algae along Old Lampasas Trail on March 3

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Old Leaf Fallen on Algae 7116

For details of some bubbles in this brew,
Just click below to get a closer view.

Old Leaf Fallen on Algae 7116 Detail

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 19, 2016 at 5:01 AM

Last week we had rain, so…

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Rain-Lily Flower Opening 8061

Last week we had rain, so on March 15 I saw my first rain-lily (Cooperia pedunculata) for 2016. In fact I came across this one and no other. The next day I also saw exactly one. Yesterday I began seeing more.

For a long time I’ve been fond of photographs with “upside down” backgrounds in which the upper part is dark and the lower part light. Today’s picture is an example.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 18, 2016 at 5:07 AM

A profusion of Mexican plum blossoms

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Mexican Plum Tree Blossoming by Redbud 7168

Here’s a Mexican plum tree, Prunus mexicana, along the northern end of Spicewood Springs Rd. on March 3.

A redbud, Cercis canadensis, colors the picture’s lower right corner and in so doing draws your attention to it.

Now that the redbud’s got your attention, here it is in its own right:

Redbud Tree Blossoming 7166

Oh well, let’s make a plum blossom sandwich of it. Here’s that first tree again, looked at from the other side and this time with a verdant fringe across the bottom of the image:

Mexican Plum Tree Blossoming Above Vegetation 7172


UPDATE. I’ve added another degree of enlargement to the three in yesterday’s post about water striders in response to a comment by Dee Smith about the lowest water strider being just a reflection.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 17, 2016 at 5:25 AM


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When I was in the greenbelt north of Spicewood Springs Rd. on March 2nd, and while I still had a telephoto lens on my camera from photographing the upper reaches of sycamore trees, I experimented with a few abstract pictures of the creek. After I noticed a water strider, I took this photograph:

Creek Surface Abstraction 6941

Viewing the picture back home later and enlarging on my monitor, I realized there were two water striders, one atop the other:

Water Striders 6941

The next morning, zooming in even more closely on the same picture, I noticed that what I’d thought was the upper water strider had two pairs of antennae, so in total there were three insects. The top two were apparently mating, but what the one below was doing is anyone’s guess.

Water Striders 6941 Detail

UPDATE: Prompted by Dee Smith’s comment, here’s an even closer view of the same photograph, though this degree of enlargement begins pushing the limits of resolution:

Water Striders Detail 6941

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 16, 2016 at 5:06 AM

Missouri violet

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Missouri Violet Flower by Dry Sycamore Leaf 6812

After taking the previous post’s March 2nd picture from a high point along the northern end of Spicewood Springs Rd., I went down into the woods and worked my way over to where the large sycamore trees were. Because the view from up above has been increasingly obscured in recent years by higher and higher vegetation in the foreground, I hoped for better pictures of the sycamores from down below. The ones I got were so-so, not as good as what you saw last time, but while tromping about in the lowlands I found something I hadn’t seen in Austin since 2007: some Missouri violet flowers, Viola missouriensis. Here you see one that had sprung up close to a fallen sycamore leaf. Notice how the shadows on the leaf loosely mimic the markings on the flower.

In spite of being called Missouri violet, this wildflower is native in plenty of other states, as you can confirm from the USDA map.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 15, 2016 at 4:53 AM

The Brother Gardeners

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On page 10 of Andrea Wulf’s 2008 book The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire, and the Birth of an Obsession I came across this:

[English gardener Thomas] Fairchild… sold [John] Tradescant’s sycamores as well as Virginian sunflowers, asters, goldenrod and rudbeckia. Aesculus pavia from North America, a small tree which was introduced as “scarlet flower’d horse chestnut” in 1711, blossomed for the first time in Fairchild’s garden….

What struck me is that I’ve shown pictures here of every one of those native North American plants that English gardeners happily imported in the 1600s and 1700s (though not necessarily the same species of each). Prompted by that coincidence, I’ve gone ahead and presented a mostly retrospective collection today. Clicking any but the first photograph won’t show it in isolation the way it usually does but will instead take you back to the original post in case you’d like to read the associated text. Hardly any of you will have seen all those posts, the majority of which appeared in the early years of this blog.

As for the first photograph, I took it on March 2 of this year from a high part of Spicewood Springs Rd. just west of the intersection with Bintliff Dr. Using a telephoto lens, I aimed down into the woods where a creek has fostered the growth of what are now some large sycamore trees, Platanus occidentalis. In addition to the conspicuous white branches, you may be able to make out the hundreds of seed balls hanging from them.


Sycamore with White Branches and Seed Balls 6776

A sycamore tree, Platanus occidentalis


A colony of sunflowers, Helianthus annuus

A colony of sunflowers, Helianthus annuus


Click for greater detail.

Heath asters, Aster ericoides.


Tall goldenrod, Solidago altissima


Brown- or black-eyed susan, Rudbeckia hirta


Click for greater clarity.

Swallowtail butterfly on flowers of red buckeye, Aesculus pavia.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman



Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 14, 2016 at 4:59 AM

Floral autumn in March

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Goldenrod Flowering in March 7245

While driving into my neighborhood along Morado Circle at the end of the first week in March I noticed an anomaly: a flowering goldenrod plant. If you know goldenrod, you know that it normally blooms in the fall or occasionally in late summer, so what this one was doing flowering in March I have no idea.

This goldenrod might be Solidago nemoralis. The genus is glommed-together Latin for ‘I make whole,’ a reference to the reputed medicinal value of some goldenrods; the species name suggests that the plant grows in the woods or in the shade of trees.

After passing this prodigy by car for several days, I went back with my camera and ring flash on the drizzly morning of March 10 to take some pictures, including the one you see here.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 13, 2016 at 5:18 AM

Different greens

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Here are some different shades of green I saw in Great Hills Park on February 23. The first picture is a close-up of mosses on a horizontal tree branch.

Moss on Tree Branch 5975

In the second picture, notice how the rattan vines, Berchemia scandens, held the upper part of a broken tree in place and kept it from falling over.

Rattan Vines on Dead Tree 5958

In the third image, look at all those maidenhair ferns, Adiantum capillus-veneris, made happy by the rain.

Maidenhair Ferns on Creek Wall 5934

And finally here are some branches of an Ashe juniper, Juniperus ashei, with pale green lichen on them.

Lichens on Broken Branches 5970

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 12, 2016 at 5:03 AM

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