Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Cedar elms turning yellow

with 23 comments

A reliable source of autumnal yellow in Austin is the cedar elm tree, Ulmus crassifolia. In the picture above, taken around 4 in the afternoon on November 9th at the Arboretum shopping center, you see some cedar elms whose leaves picked up extra color saturation from the strong backlighting the late-afternoon sun provided. The previous day in Austin’s Jester neighborhood I’d photographed another yellow cedar elm:

I’d also recorded the way a cedar elm’s yellow contrasted with the red
of the flameleaf sumacs (Rhus lanceolata) surrounding it:

As no one has offered a solution to yesterday’s poser, I’ll let it ride at least one more day. The question is what all the following English words have in common beyond the fact that in each of them a vowel letter and a consonant letter alternate.


© 2020 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 28, 2020 at 4:36 AM

23 Responses

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  1. Er, they are all in capitals? Maybe I’m looking at this too simply! Anyway, I love these colours today. We are in a world of ice and fog today and everything is white, or greenish greyish white.


    November 28, 2020 at 7:01 AM

    • Ooh, a world of ice and fog: just think of the potential for pictures. Given your weather, yellow is certainly welcome. As for the words, I put them in capitals only to make it easier for people to look for patterns in the letters. The words do share an interesting characteristic, which will soon be revealed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 28, 2020 at 7:10 AM

  2. Spectacular color from these interesting elms. Your elms explode with color much later than what we see here. I like the second image best, showing the grace and beauty of the Cedar elm from top to bottom. The branch structure is lovely, which appears quite different than the species of elm in Oklahoma. I did note on the NRCS map that the Cedar elm does exist as a native plant here, but I can’t say I have ever run across one. All species of elm seem to be a favorite of the whitetail deer for browse in all seasons.


    November 28, 2020 at 7:03 AM

    • The second picture comes from a “vacant” lot on the corner of two intersecting streets with houses on the opposite side of each; I hope the neighbors appreciated the colorful foliage as much as I did. Because Austin is hundreds of miles south of you, cold weather comes later and our changing of the leaves lasts longer into year. One distinctive feature of cedar elms doesn’t show up in today’s pictures because you’d need a closer look; it’s the corky flanges that often develop on the branches:


      Cedar elms are quite common in Austin but, from what you say, not where you live in Oklahoma. Still, the fact that the NRCS map shows the species in your state means you may yet see it there, especially now that you’re aware of it—or you’ll have to drive down to Austin one fall.

      I wouldn’t have known that whitetail deer enjoy eating elms in general.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 28, 2020 at 7:37 AM

  3. I’m entranced by the second image. The effect is almost pointillistic, and so appealing. I suspect Suerat would have enjoyed this Schwartzman view of autumn.

    I pondered the puzzle a bit more, looking for the pattern. Knowing how easily you recognize number patterns, I’m sure that’s the clue, but I can’t see it.


    November 28, 2020 at 8:26 AM

    • I originally included a second picture of a different cedar elm that showed more background. Before going to bed last night I substituted the current one, which I’d just noticed in my archive and liked for the same pointillistic quality you mentioned. What can I say? Seurat and Schwartzman are both two-syllable names beginning with S.

      Regarding the puzzle, I’ll say that for once number patterns aren’t involved. It’s really about words.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 28, 2020 at 8:53 AM

  4. I agree with shoreacres. The second picture is truly fascinating and proves that fall can also be very colourful in Texas.

    Peter Klopp

    November 28, 2020 at 8:44 AM

    • Then I’m succeeding in making people appreciate what we do have of fall in central Texas, even though it’s not the grand-scale show that colder regions put on.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 28, 2020 at 8:55 AM

      • People say it is the frost that brings out the spectacular fall colours in the leaves.

        Peter Klopp

        November 29, 2020 at 8:53 AM

        • I’ve heard that, too, yet in the case of the fall foliage in central Texas that I’ve been showing (and will show more of) no frost had occurred. By this coming Tuesday morning we’re supposed to get our first freeze of the season.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 29, 2020 at 9:19 AM

  5. Color was a bit mixed up here, with a lot of grey and brown going on, so I’m really enjoying these glorious colors.


    November 28, 2020 at 9:37 AM

    • Yesterday and today we’ve joined you, given the overcast and drizzle that have descended on us. I’ve been wondering how much of the color from the past few weeks (more of which is set to appear in upcoming posts) will still be here when the sun comes out again.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 28, 2020 at 9:45 AM

  6. You get quite a bit of autumn color down there, Steve.

    I can’t wait to see the answer to this puzzle. 🙂

    Lavinia Ross

    November 28, 2020 at 10:25 AM

    • Well, it’s not that we have so much autumn color here, especially not compared to the New York I grew up in, but that I make an effort to document what fall colors we do get in the Austin area. I suspect they often go underappreciated or unappreciated, and I’m doing my little part to change that.

      I’ve written up the answer to the word puzzle and will be sending it your way soon.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 28, 2020 at 10:36 AM

  7. Showy autumn trees, Steve.

    Jane Lurie

    November 28, 2020 at 1:02 PM

  8. I’m thrilled you’re showing off our fall color. We don’t enjoy that few weeks of orange-n-red-n-relatives color blast in October/early November like in some parts of the country. Ours happens later and unfolds over a much longer period of time. Maybe not as stunningly dramatic, but beautiful nonetheless. Lovely photos, Steve.


    November 28, 2020 at 2:49 PM

    • Thank you. I’ve really grown to appreciate this period. While flameleaf sumac and cedar elms do their thing pretty much every year, not all the trees and other plants that can produce good fall color do so in any given autumn. For example, it’s been several years since I’ve found good displays of rattan vine leaves. Each fall I do my best to record the things that are colorful that year. And it’s alway exciting when I find a new source of colorful fall foliage, however small or limited. More pictures in the series are forthcoming.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 28, 2020 at 3:22 PM

      • And I hope at least something colorful is left or emerges after this weekend’s cold snap, which is forecast to bring the temperature down to freezing between Sunday night and Monday morning.

        Steve Schwartzman

        November 28, 2020 at 3:24 PM

  9. I’ve not heard of cedar elms before, and it’s the third image contrasting it with your sumac that I find most appealing. Your word puzzle is certainly intriguing, but I can’t see the connection.


    November 28, 2020 at 3:58 PM

    • All will be revealed next time about the word puzzle. Your not having heard of cedar elms prompted me to check the distribution: I found the tree barely makes it across the state line into Missouri and no further north than that. I added the third picture late in the game, precisely because of the contrast with the flameleaf sumac that you find attractive.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 28, 2020 at 4:09 PM

  10. Okay, I got here late, and could not solve the riddle. . . . so skipped ahead. I never would have figured that out!


    December 5, 2020 at 10:37 PM

    • It took me my whole life until last week to realize there are words of this type, and to find enough of them to put forth as a challenge to other people.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 6, 2020 at 4:19 AM

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