Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

More from nature on December 25, 2018

with 30 comments

Here are more things I encountered west of Morado Circle on the morning of December 25, 2018.
It’s not unusual to find a hole in the pad of a prickly pear cactus (Opuntia engelmannii).

Look at the complexity in the dense branches of a dead Ashe juniper tree (Juniperus ashei).
Some seed-capsule-bearing limbs of a Mexican buckeye tree (Ungnadia speciosa) reached in from behind.

Why this patch on the top surface of an otherwise dark rock was so light, I don’t know.

The bright fruits of a yaupon tree (Ilex vomitoria) in front of
an Ashe juniper may strike you as appropriate for the date.

And look at the wireweed that had sprouted in the power lines overhead.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 28, 2019 at 4:57 AM

30 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Ha! 🙂 The “wireweed” is looking a little harebrained, that’s great. 🙂
    And those red berries do look very festive and nice.

    Robert Parker

    January 28, 2019 at 7:55 AM

    • We actually do have a native plant here that some people refer to as wireweed. I hope they and it will forgive me for borrowing the name. I don’t know about hare, but the “plant” seemed to be having a bad hair day. As for the yaupon, better festive than restive.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2019 at 8:31 AM

  2. The calico-like patterns on the prickly pear are as interesting as the hole. I often see splotches on that plant, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such small, evenly distributed growths.

    As for the wire-weed, I suspect you know it’s actually a static dissipater. This form is pretty common atop boat masts. They’re less well known as osprey diverters. When one of my customers was plagued by an osprey eating fish atop his mast, both he and his varnisher tired of having to deal with a deck full of entrails. He planted a wire-weed, and the problem was solved.


    January 28, 2019 at 8:50 AM

    • The degree of prickly pear splotchiness doesn’t strike me as unusual for what I’ve occasionally seen in this area. What causes the splotches, I don’t know. A brief search didn’t turn up anything about marks like these.
      Similarly, I didn’t know about static electricity dissipaters until you enlightened me about them, and especially about their use to divert ospreys. I wonder to what extent manufacturers market them as such.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2019 at 9:14 AM

      • My guess is that no one’s marketed the dissipaters as bird diverters. Someone else probably has decided to use them for that purpose, but I’ve never seen it. We had tried everything we could think of to get rid of the osprey, up to and including mounting wind instruments atop the mast. The osprey just took to perching on the wind vane. Then, one day, I got the idea — like a bolt from the blue, so to speak. Forty bucks and a trip up the mast later, it was problem solved.


        January 28, 2019 at 10:07 PM

        • In your different take on “the buck stops here,” 40 bucks and the osprey doesn’t stop here any more.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 28, 2019 at 11:43 PM

    • By the way, your words “osprey eating fish” reminded me how much difference a hyphen can make. Imagine the reaction if a boat owner discovers an osprey-eating fish, especially atop a mast.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2019 at 9:24 AM

      • What a funny image! The day I saw that would be the day I’d take off early and head down to the local tall-tale-telling watering hole.


        January 28, 2019 at 10:10 PM

        • And now the euphemism “watering hole” reminded me that the Russian cognate of the English word water is vodá, and the diminutive of that Russian noun is the equally euphemistic vodka.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 28, 2019 at 11:41 PM

    • Melissa just paid you a compliment in her second comment.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2019 at 9:50 AM

  3. I thought the cactus pad was my favorite, until I scrolled down and saw the wire weed. The composition of that photo is just delightful.


    January 28, 2019 at 9:10 AM

    • I’m so type-cast here as a nature photographer that I enjoy sneaking in a different subject every once in a while for variety. I’m glad you appreciate the composition, which strikes me as minimalist and geometric. I also find it interesting that you and Linda singled out the same two pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2019 at 9:28 AM

      • Yes, she and I are often on the same wavelength although she is far better at expressing things. I often want to say, “yeah, what she said!”


        January 28, 2019 at 9:30 AM

        • I just drew her attention to what you wrote.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 28, 2019 at 9:51 AM

        • Maybe we just express things differently. I can do all right with words, but put a paintbrush in my hand, and I’d never be able to express a thing. A friend gave me one of the so-called BuddhaBoards for Christmas. You paint on the ‘easel’ with water, and in two minutes the image has evaporated away. It’s perfect for an artistic klutz like me!


          January 28, 2019 at 10:20 PM

  4. I can’t remember seeing splotches like that on prickly pear. Strange. I wonder if the light patch on the rock might be some type of lichen, although I don’t recognize it.


    January 28, 2019 at 12:30 PM

    • Whatever the splotches are, they’re not unusual in central Texas. As for the light patch on the rock, it didn’t seem to be a lichen. I wonder if the top layer of rock flaked off in that area, exposing an interior that hadn’t darkened due to weathering.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2019 at 4:29 PM

  5. This post earned a Bean Pat as blog pick of the day. Check it out at https://patbean.net

    Pat Bean

    January 28, 2019 at 4:40 PM

  6. Hey, I think I got some of that Opuntia. I brought it back from Oklahoma. I never really confirmed the identity though. I also remember yaupon growing in landscapes in Oklahoma. I suspect that they were garden varieties of it.


    January 29, 2019 at 9:41 PM

    • Opuntia engelmannii in two varieties is quite common in central Texas. Sometimes overgrazing has led to large fields of it. I’ve also seen some yaupons here that I assume are cultivated varieties.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 30, 2019 at 5:08 AM

  7. I, too, am a fan of your wireweed, Steve. Nice capture.


    January 29, 2019 at 10:00 PM

  8. The name Ilex vomitoria sounds like this plant has some kind of emetic properties?

    I like your “wireweed”. 🙂

    Lavinia Ross

    January 31, 2019 at 12:15 PM

    • I’ve heard stories about the men in Indian tribes drinking a lot of strong tea made from yaupon leaves to prove their manhood. I don’t know what to believe about those stories. What’s known is that yaupon leaves contain caffeine, and so a tea made from them is a good drink. Check out this page to learn more:


      And yes, the “wireweed” caught people’s attention, including yours. I’m glad you liked my little joke.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2019 at 8:48 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: