Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for May 2016

A pink evening primrose bud beginning to open

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Pink Evening Primrose Bud Beginning to Open 1362

Behold an Oenothera speciosa bud beginning to open on April 15th in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183.

© Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 11, 2016 at 5:14 AM


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Tiny Beetles Mating on Firewheel 0136

Two of the most familiar wildflowers in Texas are the firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella) and the bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis), both of which you’ve already seen here more than once this year. The main reason I’m showing you this picture now is the action taking place in the firewheel’s red light disktrict.

Clicksy-doodle for some hanky-panky:

Tiny Beetles Mating on Firewheel 0136A

This photograph is from April 4 along Bluegrass Dr. in my northwest part of Austin.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 10, 2016 at 4:56 AM

Texas dandelion

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Texas Dandelion Flower Head from Above 0066

It’s been a year since I brightened your screens with a Texas dandelion, Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus. A happy and sunny yellow to you all.

I took this picture on April 3 looking straight down at one of our native Texas dandelions in a field on the west side of Interstate 35 in far north Austin. (The second photograph in a recent post reminded you how densely flowerful that field was two years ago.)

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 9, 2016 at 5:00 AM

May 8th

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Rain-Lily Flower 0523

After the appearance of this picture a week ago, Gallivanta suggested repeating it today, this time with the rain-lily (Cooperia pedunculata) symbolizing several things. For her it’s her father’s birthday (best wishes). May 8 is also World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. In 2016, May 8 happens to be Mother’s Day. In 1945, the Allies celebrated May 8 as VE Day, Victory in Europe over the forces of Nazi Germany. That same day and year also saw the birth of my childhood friend Michael Kindman, who unfortunately died young a couple of decades ago.

If you’ll indulge me for having decided “to paint the lily,” as Shakespeare put it*, here’s yet another photograph from a month ago today at the Doeskin Ranch. Adjacent to a yellowing twistleaf yucca (Yucca rupicola) leaf I found a Heller’s plantain (Plantago helleri). This little plant(ain) typically goes through the nodding phase you see here before straightening up and producing tiny flowers.

Heller's Plantain by Yellowing Yucca Leaf 0680

Oh well, now that I’ve mentioned its flowers, I guess I have to show you one. Here’s a view from my northwest Austin neighborhood on March 20:

Heller's Plantain Flower 8843



* Here’s the passage from Shakespeare’s King John:

Therefore, to be possess’d with double pomp,
To guard a title that was rich before,
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.

Somehow in public memory the two metaphors in the third line have merged, with the result that we now encounter the incorrect phrase “to gild the lily” more often than the correct one.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 8, 2016 at 5:09 AM

Woo-woo wildflowers!

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Dense May Wildflowers 3114

The early part of the spring here was sub-par in producing big colonies of wildflowers. Intervening rains have made the second half of the season much better for grand-scale floral displays. Now we’re looking more like Texas is supposed to look in the spring, as you can see from this mix of wildflowers I found along Capital of Texas Highway at the southern edge of my neighborhood on May 4.

Yellow: Thelesperma filifolium; greenthread.

Purple: Monarda citriodora; horsemint.

Red: Gaillardia pulchella; firewheel, Indian blanket, blanket flower.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 7, 2016 at 5:04 AM

What is it?

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Texas Spiny Lizard on Pecan Tree 1281

On April 15th I walked past a pecan tree at McKinney Falls State Park in southeast Austin and noticed a broken branch. Then I saw more.

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Guess; then click to make your visit.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 6, 2016 at 5:03 AM

Also at the Lower Falls

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Great Blue Heron 1237

Also at the Lower Falls in McKinney Falls State Park on April 15th I saw a great blue heron, Ardea herodias. According to John Tveten, this is the largest of our herons, standing some 4 ft. (1.2m) tall. Of the various pictures that I took of it, I’ve chosen to show this one because of the curious way the line of the bird’s bill, with its orange-brown lower part, seemed to me from a distance to follow around into the similarly colored and presumably iron-rich stain on the rock behind it that was roughly a mirror image of the heron’s neck. Notice how the dark patch on the bird’s shoulder also finds echoes in the dark depressions in the rock.

For a closer look at the heron and the stain and the dark depressions, click the excerpt below.

Great Blue Heron 1237A

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 5, 2016 at 5:13 AM

McKinney Falls State Park: the Lower Falls

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McKinney Falls Lower Falls 1220

So yeah, I was at McKinney Falls State Park on April 15th and in addition to false faces in false dayflowers I photographed the real Lower Falls in the real Onion Creek. Do you see the promontory of rock jutting out at the lower left? From there I got a closer view of the main waterfall. Here it is at 1/1600 of a second:

McKinney Falls Lower Falls 1260

And here it is smoothed out at 1/15 of a second:

McKinney Falls Lower Falls 1268

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 4, 2016 at 5:09 AM

False dayflower, false face

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False Dayflower Flower 1321

Pareidolia, as I learned from a comment last month about the photograph of a rock formation that looked to me like an animal, is a phenomenon in which the mind creates an image of a certain thing from unrelated features of something else. When I was in McKinney Falls State Park on April 15th I struck up a conversation with a man who I saw taking nature pictures and who turned out to be visiting from Alabama. He asked me about a little flower he’d photographed that looked to him like a face. From the image he showed me on the back of his camera I saw that it was Tinantia anomala, known as false dayflower to distinguish it from a related genus whose members are known as dayflowers. The title of today’s post aside, you can decide for yourselves how false or true a face this flower has (and did you notice that those last nine words were in iambic pentameter?).

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 3, 2016 at 5:07 AM

Milkweed flower globe

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Antelope Horns Flower Globe 0643

The last thing I’ll show in this series from my visit to the Doeskin Ranch in Burnet County on April 8 is a flower globe of antelope-horns milkweed, Asclepias asperula, the most common milkweed species in central Texas.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 2, 2016 at 5:14 AM

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