Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

First asters for 2021

with 22 comments

On our October 11th return to Bastrop State Park I photographed my first asters for 2021. The few I found were small and close to the ground, so I could easily have overlooked them on the forest floor. The one above was still opening; the one below had gotten farther along. Research points toward the species being either Symphyotrichum pratense or Symphyotrichum sericeum.

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I’ve been recommending The Coddling of the American Mind as a book that explains destructive and illiberal trends in America, especially among people of college age. So many drastic things have happened since publication in 2018 that the authors, Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff, wrote what was to have been an afterword to a new printing of the book. That addendum quickly grew so long that they decided to release it as a series of free articles. Part 4 has just appeared. It includes links to the first three parts.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 30, 2021 at 4:16 AM

22 Responses

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  1. The asters are the stars of your post and Jonathan Haidt will be one of the stars at next month’s APEC CEO Summit in Auckland. I enjoyed listening to this interview he gave on Radio New Zealand last week. .https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/sunday/audio/2018817669/jonathan-haidt-social-media-model-is-breaking-the-world


    October 30, 2021 at 7:28 AM

    • Thanks for your link to that interview, which I just listened to. Haidt is an intellectual star, a voice of moderation and an upholder of reason and viewpoint diversity. If you’ve not read his book The Righteous Mind, I recommend it to you. Last month Eve and I went to a meeting with his co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind, Greg Lukianoff, whose organization FIRE legally defends students and teachers whose rights to free speech and due process have gotten violated.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 30, 2021 at 8:49 AM

      • I haven’t read The Righteous Mind but I have listened to Haidt speaking about it. That may be as far as I will go re The Righteous Mind. I usually find the present day easier to deal with if I look at it from the perspective of yesteryear which is why I have so much enjoyed reading The Brothers Karamazov with a group of a friends in an online readalong. It occurs to me that an alternative title for TBK could be The Righteous Russian Mind. While I have been reading TBK, I have also been watching a Korean drama called Mr Sunshine in which The Righteous Armies of Korea play a leading role. What a righteous education I am having!


        October 30, 2021 at 6:17 PM

        • Now I can tell people we have a super-righteous friend. As much as I gravitate to yesteryear (a word Dante Gabriel Rossetti pieced together in 1870), I must confess I’ve never read The Brothers Karamazov, or War and Peace for that matter. I’m novelistically deprived.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 30, 2021 at 6:23 PM

          • Ah, thank you, Rossetti, for ‘yesteryear’ and thank you for telling me the origin of the word. I read War and Peace in my youth so I can’t remember much about it, except that it was long. It probably had some righteousness in it, too.


            October 30, 2021 at 9:23 PM

  2. The star-like shape of the aster photo demonstrates its name’s origin very well.

    Peter Klopp

    October 30, 2021 at 9:20 AM

  3. Ah, memories of our now dear departed New England Asters.

    Steve Gingold

    October 31, 2021 at 3:04 AM

  4. What a marvelous pair of images! Compared to these, mine are pretty sad — thanks mostly to my not taking enough time with them. I found yet another aster yesterday: one that I don’t remember seeing. It was very tall, and white, and the fields were filled with them. I wondered if it might be another example of the freeze encouraging prolific growth. I went through the BONAP maps and discovered they show a dozen species in Brazoria county. I have some research to do, myself.


    October 31, 2021 at 7:06 AM

    • So the Symphyotrichum pictures you took in Bastrop will remain merely an asterisk in your photographic work—in contrast to what I assume you came away with from the prolific asters near you, even if you’re unsure of the species. Take pictures first, try to identify later; that’s the creed of the non-botanist nature photographer.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 31, 2021 at 7:16 AM

  5. I love the color of these flowers, just gorgeous. And I love the backgrounds you chose, which also have a very nice tone. Those small leaves on the upper stem look very interesting.

    Todd Henson

    October 31, 2021 at 10:55 AM

    • It was those small leaves that I tried to match up with online pictures to identify the species.

      I also appreciate the background color, which partly or even mostly came from dry pine needles on the forest floor close by.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 31, 2021 at 3:09 PM

  6. I love the colors, and the fuzziness on the leaves in the first image.


    November 2, 2021 at 9:56 AM

    • This kind of soft aster differs from the species I’m familiar with in Austin just 40 miles away. It was a good find.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 2, 2021 at 2:48 PM

  7. The top image is especially pleasing. I like the way it shows how the leaves grow on the stem.


    November 5, 2021 at 1:10 PM

    • I think botanists use the word “appressed” to describe leaves which parallel the stalk that way. You can say we’re both impressed by those appressed leaves.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 5, 2021 at 2:14 PM

  8. Super shots Steve .. asters are such beauties


    November 6, 2021 at 12:46 AM

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