Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Sumac in the Guadalupe Mountains

with 7 comments


At the Guadalupe Mountains National Park visitor center late on the afternoon of November 9th I realized I had to give up on the idea of seeing the excellent fall foliage I’d hoped for. A ranger said that some bright color still existed in the park’s interior, but the sky was overcast, as you saw in the previous post, and not much daylight remained. As we continued driving east along US 62 headed for Carlsbad, New Mexico, a little color caught my eye, and when I pulled over and walked closer I saw that several sumacs (Rhus spp.) were the source. Adjacent to the sumacs were some composite plants that had turned fluffy; I never found out what they were. Near by were some scraggly dead branches that appealed to my scraggly nature.


© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 13, 2017 at 4:53 AM

7 Responses

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  1. […] long after we’d left El Capitán and the sumacs behind us on November 9th last year, I glimpsed colors in my rear-view mirror that were not only […]

  2. I love that second photo. The silvery branches look like what I imagine branches would look like if they’d fallen off Roxy Paine’s metal tree at Crystal Bridges. The colored sumac sets them off perfectly. I like the swath of red and white in the top photo, too. It’s hard to capture such a tangle in a pleasing way, but you’ve done it here.

    Speaking of fluffy: on Sunday, at Brazoria, I found some of the blooming yellow flowers I’d thought might have been the same as ones you found on your travels. I picked a small stem with some leaves and four flowers, and tucked them in a cup holder for further exploration. Well, sometimes I forget about things, and I forgot them. By Tuesday, when I went to reclaim them, there wasn’t a single bit of yellow left. They’d seeded out, and were nothing but fluff balls. I had to laugh at the thought of those poor, plucked flowers going right ahead and doing what they were supposed to do. To atone, I left them in the cup holder, and will take the seeds back to the sandy pasture where I found them.


    January 14, 2017 at 7:02 AM

    • There’s certainly a parallel here: I didn’t get to identify the fluffy plant in the Guadalupe Mountains, nor you the yellow-composite-turned-fluffy in Brazoria. It’s curious that a plucked wildflower without any water could go on developing.

      When I saw your mention of Roxy Paine I somehow thought of the character Roxanne in Cyrano de Bergerac. The Paine now makes me think of Tom Paine.

      The scraggly tangle called out to me to be photographed. I’m pleased that you appreciate the resulting picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 14, 2017 at 7:22 AM

  3. I love those dead branches against the sumac’s subtle, complex colors. I’m traveling to the desert in a few days – can’t wait – won’t be there for long, but whatever I can do will be good.


    January 15, 2017 at 10:12 AM

    • I found the dead branches in the second photograph irresistible.

      You make me wish I were back in Arizona or Nevada or southeastern California again now. Bon voyage to you in Arizona in a few days. I’ll bet you see some great sights and get some great pictures. Have you already been to the deserts and steppes in eastern Washington?

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 15, 2017 at 10:46 AM

  4. Ohh, I love the scraggly branches! I took a similar photo around here the other day. I guess I share your scraggly nature 🙂


    January 29, 2017 at 10:30 AM

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