Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Bald cypress fruit and drying leaves

with 31 comments

Coming home from a productive photo session on August 25th, my gaze and I were arrested by the pale green fruits nestled among drying leaves on a bald cypress tree (Taxodium distichum) I presume had been planted along United Drive. Don’t you love the shapes and texture and colors? Of course you do.

Let the geometry of these fruits and leaves be a lead-in to today’s quotation: “There is no national science, just as there is no national multiplication table; what is national is no longer science.” — Anton Chekhov, Note-Books, 1921. Unfortunately, there are people a century later who assail objectivity and universality, and who claim that mathematics is oppression.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 3, 2020 at 4:24 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

31 Responses

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  1. Of course, we love the shapes, the colours and the texture as well as the quote. Even more, we appreciate “Unfortunately, there are people a century later who assail objectivity and universality, and who claim that mathematics is oppression.”
    Mathematics is beauty, it can never lie to you.
    Wishing you a lovely weekend,
    The Fab Four of Cley


    October 3, 2020 at 8:17 AM

    • Hail, mathematics, queen of the sciences!

      We’re currently suffering two pandemics: Covid-19, and people wanting to tear down the advances of civilization that it took millennia to build up.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 3, 2020 at 8:52 AM

  2. Amen to that. But for those of us who persevere, we have these beautiful shapes and colors to appreciate.


    October 3, 2020 at 9:03 AM

    • It’s good that when I’m out in nature I focus on my photography and forget about ongoing threats to civilization.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 3, 2020 at 9:35 AM

      • Yes. I’ve been losing myself in the field quite a bit lately, and in my garden. Now it is cold here I’m resorting to stacks of books and, of course, my studio.


        October 5, 2020 at 9:30 AM

        • By resorting to books you make books a resort, one without other tourists and with no need for sunscreen.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 5, 2020 at 1:23 PM

          • So true. I never encounter crowds in the field or on the trails here…well, there were those two trump thugs wearing “Trump 45” t shirts with a picture of a gun. They were frightening. But otherwise I have the trails to myself. It shocks me to read blogs from all over the country and learn what a problem crowds are. Makes me think of staying right where I am.


            October 6, 2020 at 8:48 AM

  3. I have never seen a cypress fruit before. Your photo shows it clearly among the dying leaves. I wonder if what I see is the shell of the fruit?

    Peter Klopp

    October 3, 2020 at 9:19 AM

    • Let me offer a couple of clarifications. Bald cypress isn’t in the cypress family, Cupressaceae, but rather what is known as the swamp cypress family, Taxodiaceae. I used fruit in the technical botanical sense. Beneath the outer scales of this 0.75-inch to 1-inch fruit lie two-winged seeds.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 3, 2020 at 9:43 AM

  4. Really cool textures and colors! Great macro work, Steve.


    October 3, 2020 at 10:48 AM

  5. I noticed these as street trees in downtown Oklahoma City. It seemed like an odd choice to me. Since they are riparian trees, their roots are near the surface of the soil. That is not compatible with streets, curbs and sidewalks. Perhaps they disperse their roots deeply if not irrigated too frequently. Arborists in Oklahoma know more about them than I do.


    October 3, 2020 at 5:41 PM

    • It likewise seemed to me to be an odd choice at this location in an industrial area in Austin. That said, I was glad for the chance to make my portraits.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 3, 2020 at 5:47 PM

      • Do they commonly exhibit disruptive roots?


        October 3, 2020 at 11:21 PM

        • Bald cypress trees produce what are called “knees”:

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 4, 2020 at 6:16 AM

          • That is what would concern me in regard to street trees. Both of ours are starting to produce knees. One is on a creek in the Mall, where I do not care. The other is in a picnic area, where the roots are becoming distended at the surface of the soil, probably because the soil below is saturated. I really do not know how the behave where the soil is not saturated, or if they would disperse their roots more deeply as street trees without frequent irrigation.


            October 5, 2020 at 10:48 AM

  6. Cypress fruit is a beautiful thing. Mathematics is wild, owned by no one.

    Lavinia Ross

    October 3, 2020 at 8:08 PM

    • You’re the first person I’ve ever heard describe mathematics as wild. When I did a search for the exact phrase “mathematics is wild”, I got only nine hits, and only some of those actually said that mathematics is wild.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2020 at 6:13 AM

  7. I have two of these trees in front of my not-so-new apartment, and a front yard filled with smallish cypress knees. The leaves are beginning to turn, and the fruits are ripening, although they’re still green. The squirrels adore them, and I’m already seeing some of the balls with little gnaw marks on them. I keep telling the critters to be patient, but they’re not listening. I’ve always enjoyed the similarity between the texture of the cedar balls and the fruits of Bois d’Arc, which ought to be ripening, too. The contrast between the rusty leaves and the green of the fruits is especially pleasant.


    October 3, 2020 at 11:08 PM

    • Until I took pictures of this bald cypress on August 22nd, I’d forgotten about the pale green of the fruit, and how well that color goes with the rusty tones of the leaves (which I’d not forgotten).

      Speaking of squirrels, in the winter I’ve occasionally seen them eating ripe red drupes from the yaupon tree outside my computer room window. A couple of times within the past few weeks I noticed a squirrel eating still-green fruits from that tree, something I hadn’t ever seen.

      On August 1st I did closeups of a bois d’arc fruit I found on the ground. I meant to do a post with a picture of that distinctive texture, but I’ve taken so many pictures this year that I’ve been backlogged to the point that many things will have to remain unshown.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2020 at 6:46 AM

  8. I think you may be mistaken – those are surely snapping turtle seeds?


    October 4, 2020 at 6:29 AM

    • If so, then I’m fortunate I didn’t put a finger near them, lest the mother turtle snap it off.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2020 at 6:51 AM

  9. This is a wonderful photo and again a totally apt quotation. Many thanks.


    October 4, 2020 at 7:45 PM

  10. I’d guess that those green fruits would be noticeable with all that brown around them. They remind me of something else that I cannot quite put my finger on…so to speak. And, no, not the coronavirus.

    Steve Gingold

    October 6, 2020 at 5:08 AM

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