Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for April 2019

The best year for four-nerve daisies

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The four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris linearifolia and scaposa) is among the most common wildflowers in Austin, with a few occasionally blooming even in the winter. As with so many other wildflowers, they appear in their greatest numbers in the spring. That said, in the two decades I’ve been paying attention to nature in central Texas, I don’t recall seeing four-nerve daisy colonies as large and dense as some of the ones that have sprung up here this year.

I photographed the first and second groups on the east side of Yaupon Dr. on April 26th. The rocky ground is typical of my Great Hills neighborhood, thanks to the limestone substrate in the Edwards Plateau.

I’d come across the colony shown below on the west side of Spicewood Springs Rd. on April 20th. I think it’s the hugest I’ve ever seen.

UPDATE: In the previous post, the majority preferred the first photograph of Heller’s plantain.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 30, 2019 at 4:41 AM

An aura and a wraith

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Here are two takes from April 12th of Heller’s plantain (Plantago helleri), with the rain-lily (Cooperia pedunculata) behind it seen first as an aura and then as a wraith. I haven’t a ghost of a chance of guessing which version you prefer. (Actually, photographers at a recent gathering did favor one, but at least for now I won’t say which it was.)

UPDATE: The majority of commenters here, like the photographers at the meeting I mentioned, prefer the first photograph.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 28, 2019 at 4:42 AM

We had rain on Saturday and Sunday, so by Thursday…

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We had rain on Saturday and Sunday, so by Thursday, April 11th, rain-lilies (Cooperia pedunculata) were coming up around Austin. I was fortunate with the picture above because a tiny red mite was running around pretty quickly on the flower but somehow I caught it in an instant of relative stillness. Some of the rain-lilies I photographed were growing near a colony of four-nerve daisies (Tetraneuris linearifolia), including the one shown below. Notice how the circle of orange at the center of the rain-lily coincidentally corresponds in color to the daubs of the daisies in the background.

And finally here’s an abstract take on the subject.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 26, 2019 at 4:42 AM

Perspectives

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On April 21st, in the broad V between Scotland Well Dr. and Spicewood Springs Rd., I walked beside and through parts of a tributary of Bull Creek. People who don’t live in Austin, along with some who do, are surprised to learn that we have landscapes like this, which many associate with forests much further north. In the first image, the tree that had fallen completely across the creek became my main object of interest.

As a photographer I often present a scene from different viewpoints. In this case I walked forward from where I took the first picture, stepped over the downed tree, and became fascinated by the algae that the creek’s current swept into long strands that warranted the vertical orientation of the second photograph. I took both pictures with my lens zoomed all the way out to 24mm to encompass as much of each scene as possible.

If you’re interested in the craft of photography, the newly added point 31 in About My Techniques pertains to these two pictures.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 24, 2019 at 4:45 AM

A subtler wildflower meadow

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April being the 4th (and according to T.S. Eliot the cruelest) month, with the 22nd designated Earth Day, here are 2 x 2 pictures showing a floral meadow in my Austin neighborhood as it looked 10 days ago. Flowers covered the ground densely enough that I found it hard to walk without crushing any of them, yet at the same time they were subtler than the flashy, color-saturated wildflowers from March and early April that you so often saw here. You may recognize the background trees in the first photo as Ashe junipers (Juniperus ashei), which proliferate in central Texas.

Each of the next three views brings you closer to the wildflowers in the meadow.

The yellow flowers are four-nerve daisies (Tetraneuris linearifolia.) The upright white ones are rain-lilies (Cooperia pedunculata). The purple ones are wild garlic (Allium drummondii). Most numerous of all in this luxurious meadow are the low white flowers that have the curious name corn salad (Valerianella spp.) They’re also unusual in the way they tend to grow in roughly rectangular arrays.

Notice in the last picture that the prominent 4 x 4 array in the center consists of 16 clusters, each of which is a little rectangle in its own right. The folded-over ray floret in the lower of the two four-nerve daisies was likely the work of a spider making a little hide-away for itself. That’s a common sight in these parts.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 22, 2019 at 4:42 AM

Add some fasciated flower heads

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On April 12th, when I came back along the same path west of Morado Circle that I would end up spending almost three hours on, something caught my attention that I’d walked right past on the outbound stretch: a four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris spp.) that didn’t look right. When I bent down to check it out, I saw that it was fasciated. The stem was flattened and partly concave, and two flower heads were glommed together.

After taking a bunch of pictures from various angles, I noticed another fasciated four-nerve daisy close by (see below). The unusual features in these photos are typical of fasciation. To see other such plants that have appeared here, you can click the “fasciation” tag at the end and scroll through a dozen relevant posts.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 20, 2019 at 4:46 AM

Scarlet leatherflower

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While at Bull Creek on April 8th I mostly photographed waterfalls but was also happy to see a Clematis texensis vine with a trio of flowers on it. Anyone watching me at work that morning could have said: “He stoppeth one of three.” It could also be said that Austin is home to three native Clematis species, with texensis being endemic to the state’s Edwards Plateau.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 19, 2019 at 4:39 AM

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