Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A lot going on: another instance of “more is more”

with 39 comments

On May 18th I spent an hour and a half at a pond on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin. Giant bulrushes (Schoenoplectus californicus) grew lushly in places around the pond, as you see in both of these busy photographs. In the second picture the bulrushes formed an eccentric* frame for the purple flowers of a pickerelweed colony (Pontederia cordata).

Click to enlarge.

* Eccentric is literally ex-centric, which is to say ‘off-center.’ The familiar sense applies here too.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 28, 2020 at 4:37 AM

39 Responses

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  1. that is so very interesting


    May 28, 2020 at 6:09 AM

  2. I like your photos accompanied by etymological explanation, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    May 28, 2020 at 8:18 AM

    • I’ve long felt that schools should incorporate a little etymology into all subjects. So many things make more sense when people understand where words came from and what they mean.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 28, 2020 at 8:49 AM

      • Etymology would be a definite enrichment in the language arts department of our schools. Alas, so many useful subject areas have been removed from the curricula and are being replaced by trendy and ephemeral agendas.

        Peter Klopp

        May 28, 2020 at 10:20 AM

        • Amen. The very phrase “language arts” is an example of trendiness that came in after my time. Schools should give us back the class that used to be called simply “English,” along with the contents that went with it.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 28, 2020 at 10:32 AM

  3. I just realized I haven’t seen any pickerel weed yet this year. It grows at Armand Bayou, but they’ve been closed all spring. I’ll have to look more closely around the refuge ponds to see if I can spot some. Speaking of etymology, ‘pickerel’ refers to the fish: several species of pike are known as pickerel. Apparently pickerel weed got its name because pickerel fish can be found where it grows.


    May 28, 2020 at 8:18 AM

    • When I was learning about native plants here a couple of decades ago I looked up the origin of the pickerel in pickerelweed and found the explanation you gave, with its connection to pike. I’m not surprised to hear that pickerelweed grows at Armand Bayou. With things beginning to open back up now, it shouldn’t be long before you can get in again. Keeping a nature preserve closed never made sense in the first place.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 28, 2020 at 8:55 AM

  4. And still, less is more. Back in my DJ days (radio, not club), if a person was a bit odd we’d say he was pressed off-center.

    Michael Scandling

    May 28, 2020 at 10:04 AM

  5. My kind of place! Pickerel weed is a favorite of mine.
    The kind of exercises I do are eccentric, meant to lengthen muscles as they strengthen as opposed to compressing them, as in working with weights. Compressed muscles lead to compressed, and painful, joints.


    May 28, 2020 at 10:54 AM

    • You won’t be surprised that I was the only person there, at least if you discount the people working out of the industrial buildings on one side of the pond. In other words, I was the only person there specifically for the pond and the plants it sustains.

      I have a feeling that pickerelweed remains relatively unknown. I certainly hadn’t heard of it for most of my life.

      Interesting that “eccentric” caused you to think of the kinds of exercises you do. My association has often been with the eccentricity of conic sections (ellipses, parabolas, hyperbolas) in mathematics. Most people would consider that an eccentricity.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 28, 2020 at 11:05 AM

      • True but a scientist wouldn’t think you eccentric. I think you are right about pickerelweed. Very few people here know it either.


        May 29, 2020 at 12:02 PM

  6. Both are great plant portraits, and both would make terrific puzzles!


    May 28, 2020 at 5:54 PM

  7. More jigsaw puzzle nightmares.

    Steve Gingold

    May 28, 2020 at 6:11 PM

  8. Pattern recognition.

    Khürt Williams

    May 28, 2020 at 8:37 PM

  9. Cool name!


    May 28, 2020 at 11:25 PM

  10. […] As you see above, one of the things that consoled me this time was a “common” sunflower, Helianthus annuus. Some fruits from my photographic harvest the first time appeared here and here. […]

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