Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for April 21st, 2022

Philadelphia flees to Brenham

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Eleven days ago you saw a great field filled with mixed colonies of Indian paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa) and butterweed (Packera tampicana) in Brenham. From that same April 8th session, here’s a Philadelphia fleabane plant (Erigeron philadelphicus) that was as happy as I was to be in such good company.


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If you’re like me, you’ve heard of Atlantis, a land described by the ancient Greeks that supposedly sank beneath the ocean. It became the stuff of legend down through the ages, with some people positing its location in the similarly named Atlantic Ocean, while others favor a location in the eastern Mediterranean.

If you’re like me—or at least like me until last week—you’ve never heard of Doggerland, a region that likewise sank beneath the ocean. The difference is that Doggerland, despite its seemingly outlandish name, was real. It existed during and after the last ice age in a large area that eventually sank beneath the North Sea but used to connect what is now Britain with what are now France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark.

Over the past century, more and more Doggerland artifacts have been pulled from beneath the North Sea, so archaeologists are slowly learning about the Mesolithic civilization(s) that existed there. You can find out a lot more in Jason Urbanus’s article “Letter from Doggerland.”

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 21, 2022 at 3:40 PM

Water speedwell

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While walking in a familiar place just south of Austin’s McKinney Falls State Park on April 14th I noticed several instances of an unfamiliar plant at the edge of still water. I took pictures and posted a few of them in the Texas Flora group on Facebook in hopes of getting an identification. I did, and a speedy one at that, from Aidan Campos: Veronica anagallis-aquatica, known as water speedwell. These plants grow only about a foot tall, and their flowers are tiny, no more than a quarter of an inch (6mm) across. The second picture shows the unusual way the paired inflorescences emerge from the same axil that gives rise to a pair of leaves that clasp the stem.

Speaking of speedwell, the large 1913 Webster’s Dictionary gave as its first definition of speed not what we would expect today but rather ‘prosperity in an undertaking; favorable issue; success.’ (We see that original sense in the old-fashioned Godspeed.) The American Heritage Dictionary tells us that the underlying Indo-European root *spē-, which meant ‘to thrive, prosper,’ also appears in our Latin-derived words prosper and, on the negative side, despair


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman







Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 21, 2022 at 4:12 AM

Posted in nature photography

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