Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

More from Austin’s old airport

with 8 comments


When I explored parts of Austin’s old airport on October 10th I found a good colony of camphorweed in various stages, including fresh flowers and fluffy little seed globes. In case you’re not familiar with Heterotheca subaxillaris, here’s a closeup of a flower head that I made during that session.


© 2016 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 17, 2016 at 5:03 AM

8 Responses

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  1. More good work, Steve. I particularly like the top image as it’s true to life. Sometimes things are sharp but growing so thickly together they appear almost blurred. Nice!


    November 17, 2016 at 6:28 AM

    • That’s a good observation about the contrast between sharpness in individual subjects even as that sharpness seems to get lost in the group as a whole. Even a high-resolution camera sensor can resolve only so much at a distance.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 17, 2016 at 8:36 AM

  2. It’s really nice to see the flowers and seed heads together. With some of these yellow flowers, the seed head actually can help with identification when all of those ray and disk flowers start looking alike.

    This reminded me of an interesting experience I had once I got home from my trip. After clearing out the trunk of my car, I found several bits of fluff and seed that looked very much like the fluff of poverty weed. The big difference was that the fluff was a nice, clear yellow. I’d never seen anything but white fluff, so I was curious. I discovered there are plants, like brownfoot (Acourtia wrightii) that do have yellow fluff.

    Of course, there’s no telling what actually found its way into my car, but by the time I got to the Cimarron and Rita Blanca grasslands in New Mexico, I was in territory filled with new things, and I suspect I picked up the fluff there. Interesting.


    November 17, 2016 at 9:10 AM

    • Like you, I’ve sometimes found the seed heads of DYCs helpful in identifying the species. One advantage with camphorweed is that you can touch the leaves and come away with your fingers smelling like the Vick’s VapoRub that so many of us grew up with.

      Speaking of trips and poverty weed: in several western states I saw plants that I assumed to be Baccharis but different species from the B. neglecta that’s so prominent in Texas. More than one species occurs in those places, so I don’t think I’ll ever clinch the identifications, but the pictures still stand on their own.

      I hunted for pictures showing yellow fluff on an Acourtia wrightii but didn’t find anything truly yellow. At best I’d say pale yellowish. The genus is present in Austin as Acourtia runcinata, which I’ve only rarely encountered:


      I had to look up where in New Mexico the Rita Blanca grasslands are. Did you also visit Capulin Volcano?

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 17, 2016 at 9:34 AM

      • I’d thought about visiting Capulin, but I’d gone north to see Monument Rocks, and ended up spending hours there. Then, a couple who showed up (the only other people I saw there) told me about Battle Canyon just to the south: the site of the last battle with Native Americans in Kansas. I spent the afternoon there, and then the bulk of the next day at the Cimarron grasslands, leaving only a few hours for Rita Blanca and none for the volcano. Next time.


        November 17, 2016 at 10:15 PM

        • I passed by Capulin on my way to New Mexico and Colorado decades ago, but now I’d like to do it right if I ever get the chance. You filled your time with other worthy things.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 17, 2016 at 11:06 PM

  3. Speaking of traveling fluff, I am reminded of how startled I was to learn that the wind is filled with seeds, pollen and even fish and insect eggs. Mostly these don’t establish colonies, but sometimes they do. I find that fascinating.


    November 17, 2016 at 12:00 PM

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