Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Southern shield fern with scroll

with 18 comments

At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on March 23rd I made portraits of the scrolls on several southern shield ferns, Thelypteris ovata var. lindheimeri. In this take the leaves shared prominence with the scroll.


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I keep hearing a particular progressive worldview that this country is irredeemably racist and that values like rational thought, hard work, and individualism are rooted in “white culture.” I think it’s important for those of us who disagree to speak up.

A pro-human effort to transcend race requires acknowledging and respecting diverse perspectives, both within and across our made-up racial categories.

So wrote Sita Nataraj Slavov, whose family came to America from India. You’re welcome to read all of her essay “Conversations about race should acknowledge diverse perspectives.” It’s one of many published on the website of FAIR, the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 1, 2022 at 4:27 AM

18 Responses

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  1. Nice shot, Steve!

    Eliza Waters

    April 1, 2022 at 7:54 AM

    • Thanks. I photographed several of these scrolls and was happy with the way the pictures turned out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 1, 2022 at 8:01 AM

  2. More verticality, akin to your portrait of the dewberry blossom. I’d never heard of this one, and a glance at the map showed why there’s no reason I should have; it doesn’t occur anywhere close to my region. However, it does provide another reason to keep my eyes open when I get to the hill country, since it’s shown for Kerr, Gillespie, and surrounding counties. We’ll see!

    I assume that as it unrolls, the drooping tip will exend upward. Do you know if that’s so?


    April 1, 2022 at 7:58 AM

    • I tried out varied compositions, both horizontal and vertical, and came away pleased with a bunch of the results. I do hope you’ll come across this fern “in the interior” the next time you travel there. Like you, I assume the tip of the plant rises as the fiddlehead unfurls, though I have no experience watching how this kind of fern develops.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 1, 2022 at 8:06 AM

  3. Awesome shot !


    April 1, 2022 at 8:40 AM

  4. I like the graceful curvature of your fern shot, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    April 1, 2022 at 9:06 AM

  5. Yes, I second Peter’s comment, how nice to see them unfurling so gracefully.

    Robert Parker

    April 1, 2022 at 1:35 PM

  6. An elegant image of what you term a scroll but which, as you know, we call a koru. Your scroll and my koru (a symbol of creation) fit nicely into two concepts of time; the linear and non-linear. Linear time is currently dominant in NZ but, through our wide spread love of the koru, many New Zealanders embrace (probably unconsciously) concepts of non-linear time. Sita Slavov writes convincingly of her belief in linear time which is interesting given her parents’ Hindu background. Personally, having lived in so many places with different concepts of time, I tend to just go with the flow, or the path of least resistance. In Fiji, we had Fiji time; in Cairo, there was Cairo time etc, aka as everything takes its own sweet time. If you have not already read it, you may be interested in this article https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/sep/25/about-time-why-western-philosophy-can-only-teach-us-so-much


    April 1, 2022 at 9:46 PM

    • In this post’s text I was tempted to describe the fern’s fiddlehead as a koru, but that would have required an explanation for most of my readers.

      I’ll get back to you on the article about time. In the meantime, let me mention that Eve and I just watched an hour-long interview with Tony Robbins, who said he’s visited 190 countries. The interviewer asked him in which of those he found the happiest people. His answer was Fiji.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 1, 2022 at 9:55 PM

      • That’s good to know. Fiji is the only place where I have been where people laugh and smile so much. And the laugh is like no other I have heard in my travels.


        April 2, 2022 at 1:29 AM

        • Tony Robbins mentioned Fijians’ laughing and smiling.

          I found lots to think about in Julian Baggini’s article. “At the very least, there is a contradiction in saying there are no universal truths, since that is itself a universal claim about the nature of truth.” Touché.

          The discussion about some cultures’ linking of place with time reminded me of a photographic magazine that briefly existed in the late 1970s called “Place.” My interest in local native plants has given me a sense of what it means to be living where I am, in central Texas, which differs from any other place.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 2, 2022 at 7:01 AM

          • I am glad you have found a sense of place via your interest in local native plants. Place, connectedness and kinship are things I have longed for all my life. ( Is this my Scottish roots at work?) I thought by coming back to NZ that I might find them here but I don’t think I really have. The closest I have come to this is a strong feeling that this land is where I want to be buried, close to my ancestors.


            April 2, 2022 at 8:52 PM

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