Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for April 2020

Red and green

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Another thing I photographed at the Doeskin Ranch on April 8th
was this scarlet leatherflower (Clematis texensis).
Below you see how a bud develops.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 16, 2020 at 4:43 AM

P.S.A. or S.S.A., that is the question*

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I’d been scheduled to do a presentation for the Williamson County chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas on April 9th. I decided to illustrate some techniques of nature photography that conduce to good pictures and therefore might lead to more submissions and better competition in this coming fall’s statewide NPSoT photo contest. As the date drew near, though, it became obvious that the presentation couldn’t be a present-ation, as everyone was already keeping to their homes. Fortunately technology let folks attend live online, and the show also got recorded. If you’re interested in techniques of nature photography, you’re welcome to watch some or all. My part begins at 9:37 and lasts for about an hour; it includes 90 photographs.

Not wanting today’s post to be only an announcement, I’ve added a jolt of sunshiny yellow in the form of a Texas dandelion (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus); the little round structure in the upper right is an about-to-open bud. The picture comes from April 8th at the Doeskin Ranch in Burnet County. I’d hoped for solitude there, but plenty of other homebound people had the same idea, and I was surprised to see so many cars in the normally almost empty parking lot. I was also dismayed when I came back to my car a couple of hours later and found a swarm of teenagers hanging around the car that had parked right next to mine.

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* It occurred to me that this public service announcement could also be construed as a self-service announcement, especially with S.S. happening to be my initials. Oh well, as another S. wrote: “one man in his time plays many parts.”

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 14, 2020 at 4:31 PM

Syrphid self-portrait

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Don’t let the title mislead you. It wasn’t a syrphid fly that did a self-portrait, but me, inadvertently, when leaning in to take a picture of this hoverfly (Toxomerus marginatus) on a Texas yellow star (Lindheimera texana) a couple of miles from home on April 5th. If you’re having trouble seeing my reflection on the thorax in the main picture, below is an enlargement. These tiny flies are about a quarter of an inch (6mm) long.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 13, 2020 at 4:32 AM

Rain-lily with white sky

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Here’s another getting-on-the-ground-and-aiming-toward-a-white-sky picture, this one from March 26th in my neighborhood. We’d gotten enough rain a few days earlier to bring up a few rain-lilies, Cooperia drummondii. Intermittent rain since then has caused modest numbers of these flowers to keep coming up.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 11, 2020 at 4:39 PM

Spider-folded greenthread

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A strand of silk reveals that a spider was responsible for the folded-over ray flower on this greenthread (Thelesperma filifolium). Spiders do that to make little hideaways for themselves. The purple flowers in this March 18th view along Mopac were of course bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 10, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Gray vervain flowering

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From the West Pickle Campus of the University of Texas on March 18,
here are two flower stalks of gray vervain, Verbena canescens,
one of several kinds of verbena that grow in Austin.
The yellow flowers were four-nerve daisies.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 8, 2020 at 4:31 PM

Death camas from the side and from above

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Behold Zigadenus nuttallii, alternatively Toxicoscordion nuttallii, whose genus name signals the plant’s toxicity. It’s also bluntly indicated in the common name death camas. I didn’t indulge, and so lived to show you these portraits from March 19th beneath the large power lines west of Morado Circle in my neighborhood.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 7, 2020 at 4:10 AM

Stemless evening primrose flower opening

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From the West Pickle Campus in north Austin on March 18th, here’s the mostly closed flower of a stemless evening primrose (Oenothera triloba). The first word in the common name distinguishes this evening primrose from others: each flower stalk emerges directly from a basal rosette of leaves, and the plant has no real stems. Fully open fresh flowers are yellow, rather than the peach at the stage shown here. And speaking of colors, the area that shows up as bluish purple didn’t seem so at the time; processing the photograph intensified the faint color that must have been there all along, even while leaving the hues of the flower and sheath the way I actually saw them. Now I can ask once more: what’s reality, anyway?

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 5, 2020 at 4:33 PM

Two greenthread flower heads

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Two Greenthread Flower Heads 9800

After recently showing you greenthread (Thelesperma filifolium) at a distance, as a nutant bud, and then as another bud with riders, I figured I finally owe you a good view of an open flower head. In fact I’ll make up for the delay by showing you two of them. Note another nutant bud in the upper left. And let me add that flower heads in this species most often have eight ray florets, though the number can vary slightly.

For any new readers who wonder why I keep saying say flower head when most people would say flower, you can find the explanation in a 2014 post with the quizzical title “When is a ‘petal’ not a petal? When is a ‘flower’ not a flower?

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 4, 2020 at 4:35 AM

Corn salad flowers, many and few

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The blossoms of the strangely named corn salad (Valerianella sp.), while small and never rising far from the ground, have the collective power to cover a limestone-lined wildflower meadow in central Texas with what could be taken for a dusting of snow. In the second picture you get a closer look at the characteristically rectangular inflorescence; each five-petaled flower is between 1/16 and 1/8 of an inch (1.5–3mm) across.

I took these pictures west of Morado Circle on March 19th.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 2, 2020 at 4:45 PM

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