Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Water primrose flowering

with 24 comments

Along Wells Branch Parkway at Strathaven Pass on August 13th I took pictures of narrowleaf water primrose, Ludwigia octovalvis. The top picture sets the scene and includes a couple of purple bindweed flowers, Ipomoea cordatotriloba, which starred in a recent post about the same site. The gialloscuro portrait below isolates one of the water primrose flowers.

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From the time I was in elementary school I was interested in population figures. Here are some observations from the Daily Wire about the 2020 census in the United States.

The Topline: New data from the most recent Census offers a glimpse into the changing demographics of the United States. 

Why Does The Census Matter?

Census data helps determine a state’s representation in Congress. The data also plays a role in allocating electoral votes and helps determine how much funding states can get from the federal government throughout the year. 

State Breakdown

Texas will be adding two members of Congress due to its population growth over the last decade. 

Florida, North Carolina, Oregon, Colorado and Montana will also gain one Congressional seat. 

Seven states — most notably New York and California — will be losing a member of Congress due to lower rates of population growth. 

Political Party Breakdown

It’s unclear if one party benefited more from the Census data. In the fall, states will finalize the process of redrawing congressional lines. 

States controlled by Democrats will attempt to capitalize on urban growth by redrawing lines to create as many districts as possible close to cities with the desire to maximize the impact of their voter base, which typically resides in urban areas. Republicans will take similar action, but in different regions, as their strongholds are in more rural areas.

Snapshot Of American Life In 2020

Experts had predicted a stark increase in the number of people moving to cities, but the Census data exceeded expectations. While the overall population increased, half of all U.S. counties — almost all of them rural — experienced a decrease in size. 

Almost all of the country’s population growth occurred in cities. As a result, for the first time ever, the U.S. has ten cities with populations over 1 million people.

Diversity In America 

One of the key takeaways from the data is the increasing diversity of America. 

White people are still the largest demographic, but their share of the population decreased by 8.6% over the last decade, which is the first time in census history that there was a decrease in the overall number of white Americans. 

According to the data, a large part of the increased diversity is due to immigration, but the data shows that it’s also due to the fact that white families are having fewer children on average than black and Hispanic families. 

Decrease In Population Growth

The U.S. population grew at a rate of 7.4% over the last decade, which is the slowest rate since the Great Depression.

According to the data, the average man is now over 30 years old when he first marries, and the average woman is 28 years old. In 2000, those numbers were 27 and 25. Experts also point to the student debt crisis and increased presence of women in the workplace as reasons for Americans waiting to have children. 

The Big Picture: A decline in the population growth rate may not be initially concerning, but experts say there could be a massive labor shortage if population growth doesn’t start to increase as Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers retire.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 31, 2021 at 4:31 AM

24 Responses

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  1. I like a good yellow. I like a good gailloscuro portrait. I like a good census. I can enjoy all three in this one post. I wonder how many gailloscuro portrait specialists there are in the US. One? Should this speciality be included in a future census?


    August 31, 2021 at 6:08 AM

    • Happy triple liking. Maybe this specialty will be included not only in a future census but also in a future Olympics. (And now I remember my high school Latin teacher telling us that the way to say “not only… but also” is “non solum… sed etiam.”)

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 31, 2021 at 8:10 AM

      • Speaking of Latin (and not in Latin), I am enjoying the fact (which I had forgotten until Saturday) that Ernest Rutherford’s first degree was a BA in Pure Mathematics and Latin (both compulsory), Applied Mathematics, English, French and Physics. Saturday, 30th August, was the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ernest Rutherford. You may enjoy this article. https://www.newsroom.co.nz/ideasroom/happy-birthday-ernest-rutherford?fbclid=IwAR0rWI3iKQ_57XZFnJ_qjtNmvRRllCnAHpcMUXUKLRt1FwEVvmV_6EUcFnQ


        August 31, 2021 at 9:02 AM

        • Thanks for the link. Before that article I knew almost nothing about Rutherford. Now I know something, including that “with his fiancee Mary he endured a years-long engagement before they could afford to marry and, once successful, he was effectively a one-man employment agency for young scientists across the then-Empire.”

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 31, 2021 at 1:08 PM

          • Ernest and his bride were married at St Paul’s Anglican church which is within walking distance of my home. It is a beautiful church.


            September 1, 2021 at 7:27 AM

            • Is there a plaque in that church commemorating the marriage?
              I pulled up the church on a street map, and then located your house. I know that we drove northeast from your house along Bligh’s Rd. one or several times but I can’t recall if our route would ever have taken us past St. Paul’s Anglican Church.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 1, 2021 at 8:03 AM

              • I don’t know if there is a commemorative plaque. I will try to remember to check if I am in the church in the future. I think you would have driven close to the church but not right past its front door.


                September 2, 2021 at 2:20 AM

  2. Great idea to juxtapose the flowering primrose bush and its macro image! There is much beauty in both.

    Peter Klopp

    August 31, 2021 at 9:06 AM

    • I don’t think of the top picture as particularly artistic but it gives viewers a good sense of how this water-adjacent species grows. The bottom picture is a typical portrait style of mine.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 31, 2021 at 1:11 PM

  3. As the human population approaches eight billion, and the pace of extinctions for other creatures accelerates, I hope the governments and business geniuses can arrive at the ways & means for prosperity without continued population growth.

    Robert Parker

    August 31, 2021 at 12:55 PM

    • According to books like Factfulness, the more prosperous a country becomes, the lower its birth rate drops. That’s true today in Europe and Japan, for example, which have fallen below the replacement rate. Apocalypse Never makes the point that helping Africa to get adequate supplies of oil and especially natural gas—though that’s a sin according to the current climate change dogma—accomplishes two things: it leads to a higher standard of living (and hence presumably a lower birth rate), and it actually reduces the carbon footprint because many Africans currently still cook with wood, which is much more polluting than natural gas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 31, 2021 at 1:22 PM

      • Right, but Japan demonstrates one of the challenges, which is leveling off population without pushing the economy into stagnancy or even shrinkage. Japan now has over a quarter of its population over 65, and they’ve had to import two million foreign workers. I think part of the long-term answer may be automation and AI, but in the meantime, the question is how to stay prosperous without increasing population and the consumption of resources.

        Robert Parker

        August 31, 2021 at 1:37 PM

        • Yes, striking a balance is the key. My impression is that Japan, unlike the United States, hasn’t historically welcomed foreigners. I wonder if sustained contact with two million foreign workers will lead the Japanese to be more welcoming. As for resources, various people have pointed out that atomic energy is energy-dense, meaning it takes up relatively little land for the amount of energy it produces. In contrast, a lot of land has to be cleared for a solar energy farm.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 31, 2021 at 1:51 PM

          • I think after the Fukushima disaster, building more nuclear plants will be a hard sell in Japan. I can’t figure out why they don’t build the solar farms over parking lots – – so the cars can park out of the sun and rain, and the land has already been bulldozed and paved, it seems kind of obvious.

            Robert Parker

            August 31, 2021 at 2:25 PM

            • Yes, a hard sell, but I think Japanese authorities overreacted. New nuclear reactors have been designed that are smaller and safer:

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 31, 2021 at 2:31 PM

              • Yes, I’ve seen articles like this, and in fact Mitsubishi apparently has a very good, safe design for small-scale installations. Of course, the engineers who created 3 Mile Island and Fukushima also promoted their products as safe. I actually think nuclear energy might be part of a transition away from fossil fuels, but part of why nuclear energy looks attractive is because the projected budgets rarely incorporate the true long-term costs. The ground-freezing containment alone at Fukushima is costing hundreds of millions of $$. And not only do such plants need to be constantly guarded, but the waste products do, too. The $96 billion fiasco of the Yucca Mt repository illustrates some of the problems of transporting and storing this stuff. Disposing of outdated plants is also problematical, it seems that some of them may be part of the landscape for a long, long time, left in place and encased in massive amounts of concrete.

                Robert Parker

                August 31, 2021 at 3:01 PM

                • I’m in no position to know the validity of the arguments I’ve heard pro and con. Here’s an article that says nuclear waste can become new fuel:


                  Steve Schwartzman

                  August 31, 2021 at 4:50 PM

                • Yes, I’m not a physicist or nuclear engineer, but we can at least read the dollars & cents in the paper. As I said, it seems like nuclear power might be a viable option for a time while we transition out of fossil fuels.

                  Robert Parker

                  August 31, 2021 at 5:32 PM

  4. Seeing the forest for the trees, so to speak, with the combination of the cluster and a closeup of one of the meadow’s citizens.

    Steve Gingold

    September 1, 2021 at 3:48 AM

  5. I first found this plant in a ditch south of Danevang. Yesterday, I noticed it growing in a ditch that borders a local road I use to avoid construction detours. Both locations had plenty of the water that this plant enjoys. I’ve always called it by the common name that only implies those narrow leaves — Mexican primrose willow.

    Speaking of Latin again, this one’s binomial was easy to remember from the beginning. I think the red stems and the reddish tint of those eight ‘valves’ are as attractive as the flowers; they complement one another nicely.


    September 1, 2021 at 5:43 AM

    • You’ve got Danevang and northeast of Austin we have New Sweden. Some Norwegians came to Texas, too:

      As you said, there’s a distinct fourness (and hence eightness) to this plant’s flowers and capsules. While Ludwigia octovalvis is the most common Ludwigia species here, Bill Carr lists six others in Travis County, all of them native. I don’t know how to tell them apart.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2021 at 5:56 AM

  6. Lovely portrait Steve …cheeky bindweed, not one of my favourites


    September 6, 2021 at 3:28 PM

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