Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Colors above, colors below

with 7 comments


Welcome to a tree that’s native in central Texas but that has never appeared in these pages till now: Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii, known as western soapberry. I couldn’t help noticing this one turning colors on the afternoon of November 30, 2016, outside the office at Monument Hill State Historic Site in La Grange, some 75 miles southeast of my home in Austin.

It wasn’t only above me that I found fall foliage. Close to the ground I noticed some vine leaves becoming patterned and taking on warm colors. I believe the plants were pearl milkweed vines, Matelea reticulata.


Click to enlarge.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 9, 2017 at 4:46 AM

7 Responses

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  1. Texas may not rival New England for fall foliage, but our colors can be just as lovely. This pairing certainly shines. I’ve grown fond of our yellow, orange, and green combinations, and it’s fun to see a tree and a vine so closely resembling one another.

    Your above-and-below title reminded me of Emily Brontë’s quite different landscape, in her famous poem:

    “Clouds beyond clouds above me,
    Wastes beyond wastes below;
    But nothing drear can move me;
    I will not, cannot go.”


    January 9, 2017 at 5:48 AM

    • I was initially perplexed, thinking that the person speaking the lines in the poem should want to stay home and not go out into the menacing weather. Then it dawned on me (as it has not yet dawned in Austin this morning) that the person must be outdoors and should indeed want to be going toward shelter but cannot.

      Colors this fall in central Texas ranked below average. I was grateful for the little bit I could find here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 9, 2017 at 6:27 AM

  2. Simply gorgeous.
    Have a great week,


    January 9, 2017 at 9:14 AM

  3. Love the second image .. 😃


    January 13, 2017 at 11:52 PM

    • Thanks for letting me know. We’re fortunate here to have milkweeds both as herbs and as vines.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 13, 2017 at 11:59 PM

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