Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Verdure on the seeping cliff

with 19 comments

As you heard last time, on June 12th I spent time at the cliff along Capital of Texas Highway a little north of the bridge over the Colorado River. The water that seeps out of the cliff supports vegetation, most notably southern maidenhair ferns, Adiantum capillus-veneris, which in one place formed a column that grew all the way up to the top of the cliff:

Here and there isolated maidenhair ferns found refuge in little alcoves.

In a couple of areas the lush maidenhair ferns turned the base of the cliff into a green wall.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 26, 2019 at 4:40 AM

19 Responses

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  1. how amazing


    July 26, 2019 at 5:40 AM

  2. I have never seen maidenhair ferns form such a dense, lush colony.


    July 26, 2019 at 7:41 AM

    • That’s what appealed to me. Would you find it difficult to paint something as monotone as the colony in the third picture?

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 26, 2019 at 7:55 AM

      • No it would be a fun challenge, focusing on value changes within a set color.


        July 27, 2019 at 9:47 AM

  3. wonderful. Here, wintertimes, we have huge growths of frozen water from seeps. These brighten up trips along route 81 and 17.


    July 26, 2019 at 8:34 AM

    • I drove those highways in the winter of 1970–71 but I don’t remember seeing frozen water formations from seeps. Perhaps I didn’t see any, or perhaps I did and have forgotten. I’m glad you have them clearly in mind.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 26, 2019 at 8:54 PM

      • Rt 17, going through the Catskill Mountains. Rt 81 I have a clear image, can’t say where exactly. Here in Ithaca, going up route 13 headed east, around the exit for Cayuga Heights — saw it this year. Thanks for the response, Steve.


        July 29, 2019 at 8:37 AM

  4. Water, light and something to cling to are the things the maidenhair fern needs to thrive. I am impressed with your knowledge of botanical names, Steve. I wonder if you could have another look at Wednesday’s post and identify the red flower I published along with the huckleberries. Some of my blogging friends wanted to know.

    Peter Klopp

    July 26, 2019 at 8:52 AM

    • I’m afraid my botanical knowledge is pretty limited. Almost all of the little I know pertains to native plants in central Texas. Occasionally I’ve been able to extrapolate from that and recognize an apparent relationship in a plant that grows elsewhere, but it’s speculation and has to be confirmed from books or people in the know. With all those caveats, I’ll say that the red flower in your post looks like it might be some kind of paintbrush (Castilleja sp.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 26, 2019 at 9:32 PM

      • After conferring with my wife, which I should have done in the first place, I found out that your guess is right. This flower is commonly known as the Indian paintbrush. Thank you, Steve, for taking the time to respond!

        Peter Klopp

        July 27, 2019 at 2:13 PM

        • Ah yes, we can’t forget our wives. I’ve learned that most parts of the country have at least one species of Indian paintbrush.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 27, 2019 at 5:28 PM

  5. Maidenhair ferns always appeal, whether tucked into a cranny or, as here, dominating a cliff face. I’ve never in my life seen such a display; it really is glorious. I smiled at your phrase “grew all the way up to the top of the cliff.” My first thought on seeing the photo was that they “grew all the way down the face of the cliff.” It’s an interesting variation on tomayto, tomahto.

    The third photo looks remarkably like a layer of duckweed on a pond’s surface. While trying to find information on the relative size of the two plants (duckweed’s much smaller than the maidenhair fern leaflet) I discovered there’s another fern known as the northern maidenhair fern: Adiantum pedatum. The information I found is from the Morton Arboretum, so I’ll bet Melissa’s seen the northern maidenhair. You may even have seen it when you were in the area.


    July 28, 2019 at 5:28 PM

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