Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Two sources of fall color together

with 14 comments

Leaves of the mustang grape vine (Vitis mustangensis) tend to turn yellow or even orange, as you see here from FM 2222 just west of Loop 360 a year ago today. That the mustang grape above chose to change colors on one of our most red-turning species, prairie flameleaf sumac (Rhus lanceolata), was a happy coincidence for this photographer. The second picture, taken near by, shows that mustang grape vines can climb high enough to cover a tree.

Individual mustang grape leaves sometimes turn yellow at other times of the year, as the one below
did on August 25, 2020; backlighting enhanced the colors and brought out details in the venation.

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“You need to understand history because history is all about you.” That was one memorable comment by Jordan Peterson in a nearly two-hour discussion with Heather MacDonald, hosted by Stephen Blackwood, that took place in February 2020 on the topic of higher education, and specifically about what the ‘higher’ of ‘higher education’ means.

If you have the time, I recommend that passionate conversation, which takes place at a high plane yet remains comprehensible and rewarding. (Jordan Peterson’s first answer is long, from about 5:00 to about 17:00 in the video, so if your time is limited you may want to skip that section.)

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 8, 2021 at 3:28 AM

14 Responses

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  1. So the mustang grapes rear up to great heights.

    Steve Gingold

    November 8, 2021 at 8:28 AM

  2. I like the close-up of the decaying leaf. The pattern of the veins is most impressive. The main veins spread out like branches on a tree but between them, they form an interesting honeycomb pattern.

    Peter Klopp

    November 8, 2021 at 9:02 AM

  3. That first photo is a beauty. Yellow and red are nice, but the combination of greenish-yellow and reddish-orange is even more attractive. I’d forgotten that Rhus lanceolata doesn’t grow here; we have R. glabra, instead.

    It seems like only yesterday I was busy identifying new tendrils of the mustang grape, and now its season is ending. The second photo looks like a botanical version of Oscar the Grouch. Given the amount of vine covering it, the tree may be the grouchy one.


    November 8, 2021 at 10:23 PM

    • The tree in the second photograph may be not only the grouchy one but the dead one.

      With the flameleaf sumacs our positions are reversed: over here we don’t have Rhus glabra (which I just imagined as Rhus algebra). Nor does Rhus copallinum, which I have to go to Bastrop to find.

      I remember when you were identifying the tendrils of mustang grape, a species we do share.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 9, 2021 at 4:54 AM

  4. Hey, I saw a sumac in Oklahoma. I do not remember what species it was, but it got my attention because I had never seen a wild sumac before. I believe that it has relatively stout stems, with plump floral trusses.


    November 10, 2021 at 7:25 PM

    • I think I remember your sumac sighting from Oklahoma. The BONAP maps might help you figure out which Rhus you saw:


      Steve Schwartzman

      November 10, 2021 at 9:39 PM

      • Well, it is not Rhus aromatica, and is not likely Rhus copallinum or Rhus lanceolata, which is rare there (in Cleveland and Oklahoma Counties). It is most likely Rhus glabra, which sounds familiar. That may be how I identified it while there. Some pictures show the bulky and dense floral trusses that I remember. However, some pictures show looser floral trusses.


        November 10, 2021 at 11:54 PM

        • I’m glad you were able to narrow it down to a likely Rhus glabra. One of these autumns you’ll have to go back there to confirm the identity.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 11, 2021 at 7:50 AM

          • I SO want to get back to Oklahoma, but have not been anywhere in a very long time. I was supposed to be to the Pacific Northwest and back by now, but have not left yet.


            November 11, 2021 at 10:48 PM

            • Many of us have been cooped up for close to two years now.

              Steve Schwartzman

              November 12, 2021 at 4:41 AM

              • Well, I just want to get back to Oklahoma anyway. I have not been cooped up any more than I typically am. I just do not get out much.


                November 13, 2021 at 2:32 AM

  5. […] a prolific one on the side of FM (Farm-to-Market) 2222 just west of the Capital of Texas Highway covered a tree. On May 10th of this year I went back to the same highwayside and focused on young mustang grape […]

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