Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Enchanted Rock, part 3

with 23 comments

You’ve already seen trees as secondary subjects in the first two parts of this series about Enchanted Rock.

Today’s post plays up some of the dead and dying trees we saw there in abundance on November 1st.

You’ll notice ball moss, Tillandsia recurvata, on many of the branches.

Not a true moss but an epiphyte in the Bromeliad plant family,
ball moss can live quite well even on inanimate objects,
and that fact proves that it isn’t parasitic.

Even in the presence of death, new life arises.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 3, 2019 at 4:45 AM

23 Responses

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  1. So many interesting tree shapes. That is a great place to spend many hours.

    Steve Gingold

    December 3, 2019 at 7:08 AM

  2. This is a very nice series. The first photo is particularly successful, with the cloud shape mirroring the tree shape. I wonder why all these trees died?


    December 3, 2019 at 7:37 AM

    • The clouds that day provided great backdrops for the trees and boulders. As for why the place has so many scraggly dead trees, I don’t know. I did some searching on the Internet but didn’t turn up anything.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 3, 2019 at 9:27 AM

  3. The twisted shapes of the dead tree’s branches and its shadow on the trunk impress me very much, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    December 3, 2019 at 7:49 AM

    • I’ve long been fond of making photographs with scraggly objects like these trees and their corresponding shadows. I’m glad you appreciate them too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 3, 2019 at 9:35 AM

  4. Those are wonderful images, Steve. Even in death trees have their own beauty.

    Lavinia Ross

    December 3, 2019 at 10:36 AM

  5. Great shots of these trees Steve. Photographing trees is one of my passions.


    December 3, 2019 at 8:23 PM

    • That’s understandable, at least for folks like us.

      Here’s an Australian tidbit from the brief time I visited Sydney for a wedding in 2005. One afternoon while walking along a path in Wollongong I looked down and there was some Texas lantana, which grows natively in my Austin neighborhood. Of course it’s alien in Australia, and I have no idea how it came to be growing wild in Wollongong.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 3, 2019 at 9:58 PM

      • Lantana has pretty flowers, our nurseries bring in plants and breed them from other countries, no doubt the same as your country does, but it is a notorious weed here, and i’ve even seen it growing in native bushland. One good thing is I have not seen it for sale in nurseries for a long time now.


        December 4, 2019 at 7:00 PM

        • From what I saw online last night, the main culprit in Australia is Lantana camara, which comes from the Caribbean. The species I saw in Wollongong was Lantana urticoides, which, as I mentioned, is native in Texas. I’m glad to hear you’re no longer seeing lantana for sale over there.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 4, 2019 at 8:18 PM

  6. Lovely photos. There’s an inherent beauty in the form of dead/dying trees. I’ve stopped many times just to photograph them. And you had some great background cloud patterns, as well.

    Lignum Draco

    December 4, 2019 at 1:18 AM

    • So we share a pictorial interest in dead and dying trees.

      Winds that dispersed airplane contrails resulted in the fleecy clouds, which therefore weren’t “natural” but certainly added to the appeal of these tree pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 4, 2019 at 6:42 AM

  7. The ball moss is very unusual. My favorite shot is the last, where new life rises where death stands. I am fascinated with dead/dying trees. They still whisper a message as the wind travels through and around them.


    December 4, 2019 at 7:20 AM

    • It seems there may be more of us who are fascinated by dead trees than I realized. Several other commenters have admitted to that fascination.

      Your first comment surprised me because I assumed you’d be familiar with ball moss in Oklahoma. However, when I checked the USDA map just now I found that ball moss doesn’t even make it as far north as Dallas-Fort Worth. Down here in Austin ball moss is very common, including on the trees in our yard.

      I didn’t originally include the last picture in this post. Given that it’s your favorite, I’m glad I added it. That presence of abundant new life makes quite a contrast.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 4, 2019 at 9:18 AM

  8. As the realtors like to say, “Location, location, location.” When I see a tree like this around here, it always looks out of place and not at all attractive. In this setting, the trees look of a piece with the landscape, and more interesting than unappealing.

    The clouds certainly helped to set them off. I like the spreading-live-oak feel of the first photo, but I was caught by the clarity of the seed pods on the left in the third photo: a different suggestion of new life to come.


    December 5, 2019 at 6:41 AM

    • As you already know, Enchanted Rock is an excellent location, location, location to visit and to serve up interesting formations, whether animate or inanimate. The clouds were a great gift, better than any clouds I recall seeing on previous visits to Enchanted Rock.

      As has often happened, you tuned in to a detail I hadn’t paid attention to, namely the seed pods.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 5, 2019 at 9:36 AM

  9. Well done (of course!) and interesting. I know Tillandsia from Spanish moss and some of the “air plants” one sees in conservatories, but not this one.


    December 28, 2019 at 8:25 PM

    • In central Texas ball moss is very common (including in our yard), with Spanish moss a far distant second in the genus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 28, 2019 at 10:31 PM

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