Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Barkley Meadows Park

with 14 comments

On November 6th we made our first visit ever to Barkley Meadows Park in Del Valle. A whole lot was going on, botanically speaking, near the western shore of the Berdoll Pond there, as you see in the more-is-more picture above. The myriad small stars throughout are a type of aster, Symphyotrichum subulatum. The fluffy seed heads to the right of center are marsh fleabane, Pluchea odorata. The green saplings are black willow trees, Salix negra. The brown stalks in the back are slenderpod sesbania, Sesbania herbacea, which you saw more fully last time. The tan arcs front and center are the dry leaves of a young cattail, Typha sp. The second picture shows a black willow that had gotten taller.

And below is a closer look at some marsh fleabane gone to seed;
call it a Rembrandtesque botanical version of “Starry Night.”

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 17, 2020 at 4:37 AM

14 Responses

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  1. Your photographs could have been taken at the pecan orchard slough! Isn’t it lovely to find such an array of wildflowers? We have marsh fleabane here, though not as plentiful as you show, and lots of cattail and willow trees. I learned something on visiting the NRCS website and in doing further research on willow trees – that whitetail deer and elk browse on willow leaves in the summer and willow twigs in the winter. I will introduce the fawns we are raising to some willow branches this morning. I’m not sure there will be many leaves attached but they may enjoy the twigs offered. Here the willow area along the slough, supports a huge hummingbird population in the summer, as trumpet vine climbs the willows. It is truly a fascinating area.


    November 17, 2020 at 7:08 AM

    • You mean you didn’t see me slip into your slough when I was up in Oklahoma that day? Oh well, I’ve already said the pictures are from down here, but we can fantasize.

      I’m assuming your willows are also Salix nigra, which I didn’t know whitetail deer eat the bark of. We’ll see if your fawns do so too. As you learned from NRCS, I just learned more about the species from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website: “This is the largest and most important New World willow, with one of the most extensive ranges across the country. In the lower Mississippi Valley it attains commercial timber size, reaching 100-140 (30-42 m) in height and 4 (1.2 m) in diameter. Large trees are valuable in binding soil banks, thus preventing soil erosion and flood damage. Mats and poles made from Black Willow trunks and branches provide further protection of riverbanks and levees. One of the lightest of all eastern hardwoods, it is extremely weak in a structural sense. Yet it has a strength of its own. When nails are driven into it, black willow does not split. Also a shade tree and honey plant.”

      I may have seen a trumpet vine on a willow tree here last month. The other day on two separate willows I noticed that peppervines had climbed high and were turning fall colors. The leaves on the willows themselves often turn a pretty yellow at this time of year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 17, 2020 at 7:31 AM

  2. This is an amazing place for all nature lovers to visit, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    November 17, 2020 at 9:05 AM

    • We had a good time, especially since we’d never been there before. We returned the next week to explore the opposite side, which has another wetland.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 17, 2020 at 12:50 PM

  3. Your ‘starry night’ description’s especially apt; that’s my favorite of the photos. It’s nice that a bit of color still can be seen on the fleabane, in the leaves and stalks.

    So many of the plants I’m accustomed to seeing at Brazoria at this time of year, like the asters, took quite a hit in the storms, and some substantial mowing finished them off. It will be interesting to see what regenerates this fall, and what things look like in the winter and spring. Some rain would help. We’re beginning to dry out, and the burn bans are creeping closer.


    November 17, 2020 at 8:02 PM

    • Originally this post had only the first picture, which you and I both like. Consider the two I added informational.

      I’m sorry for your double whammy of storms and mowing. It’s a shame you’ve been shortchanged of asters, which are an expected joy of autumn. Austin has fared better, as you’ve been seeing and will keep seeing in these posts.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 17, 2020 at 8:11 PM

  4. Neat shots, Steve. Those asters (well-named) do look as thick as the Milky Way.

    Eliza Waters

    November 17, 2020 at 8:09 PM

  5. They are so prolific; it’s a galaxy of floral glory.


    November 18, 2020 at 3:12 AM

    • And intergalactic, too: from the floral galaxy to that of the mind that conceived the portrait.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 18, 2020 at 6:27 AM

  6. […] Barkley Meadows Park in Del Valle on January 29th we walked completely around Berdoll Pond, at whose far end I did many […]

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