Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Bulrushes in the snow

with 16 comments

Schoenoplectus californicus; Northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183; January 10th.

And here’s a closer look:

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 17, 2021 at 4:36 AM

16 Responses

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  1. The white of snow helps us to see much more depth and texture in the chaos.


    January 17, 2021 at 8:34 AM

    • “Chaos” is a good word for it, as bulrushes grow in dense colonies where individual stalks aren’t easily discerned. The ephemeral white of the snow delineated parts of some of them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 17, 2021 at 8:40 AM

  2. It looks cold.


    January 17, 2021 at 10:11 AM

  3. I love these photos of swampy snow and rushes. When I was 7, we moved to a rural town, to a house on the edge of a swamp. The property beyond ours in the back had bulldozed a good bit of it, but for many years, rushes, reeds, sedges, wild irises, etc., grew there among the uprooted trees, and one could find lots of turtles, toads and frogs. My first winter there I wandered out into the snowy swamp, marveling at the landscape, a jumble of stalks, frozen rain pools and small streams covered in snow, snow coming down, all was hushed, magical and still.

    Lavinia Ross

    January 17, 2021 at 10:21 AM

    • Wow, I’m happy to hear this post triggered all those memories from your childhood back east—and detailed memories they are, judging from your description. In contrast, I don’t remember snow-covered bulrushes from childhood, nor do I remember such a thing from my decades in Austin. As far as I recall, these snow-covered bulrushes a week ago were the first ever for me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 17, 2021 at 5:14 PM

      • I remember noting the different seed heads on grasses and sedges. They were beautiful, new and different. I learned the call of the redwing blackbird out in the swamp by watching the males with their brightly colored shoulders perched on cattails and reeds. A child’s eyes take it all in, and want to know what everything is and what it does.

        Lavinia Ross

        January 18, 2021 at 10:30 AM

  4. I’m not sure what it is — perhaps the views of the water here and there — but these feel like some of the coldest photos you’ve shown. Do you think the weight of the snow bent the reeds? I’m accustomed to seeing broken ones with 90 degree angles — wind, or birds sitting on them can do that — but the bent ones look more like grasses that have been submerged in a flood.


    January 17, 2021 at 10:54 AM

    • Ah, subjectivity: the actual conditions, at 32°–34°, weren’t as cold as in some of the pictures I’ve shown from other times I’ve gone out photographing in the winter. I do think the weight of the snow bent the reeds in this case. While there was shallow water in parts of this low-lying area, as far as I could tell no surge of water had flooded through there. Like you, I’d previously seen reeds broken at sharp angles, but the overall effect here was different. Why some remained standing is akin to why some people who get sick in an epidemic survive and others don’t (how’s that for a timely analogy?).

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 17, 2021 at 5:29 PM

  5. That stuff gets around! It even lives in Hawaii, where it is considered to be native rather than naturalized. Now, how did it get out there? Isn’t it strange that it is named for California, but also lives near the East Coast? I mean, species that live there were mostly identified before they were identified in California.


    January 17, 2021 at 1:29 PM

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