Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Lace cactus

with 20 comments

Yesterday I found flowers on several adjacent lace cacti (Echinocereus reichenbachii ssp. reichenbachii) in my hilly northwest part of Austin. Today’s picture of one is the first I’ve ever shown here. Great saturated colors, don’t you think?


❖         ❖         ❖


For decades I’ve criticized the American education system. In the 15 years since I last taught, not only have the old problems persisted and worsened, but new problems have arisen. Here’s how Shane Trotter describes one of them in his Quillette article “Hidden in Plain Sight: Putting Tech Before Teaching.”

In its desire to embrace technology, our school district failed to recognize the social devolution that was taking hold of society. The iPad Initiative [which he’d just described in detail] came right as smartphones became virtually ubiquitous among American teens and adults. Teens began spending over seven hours per day consuming entertainment media. Twelfth-graders in 2015 were going out less often than eight graders Adolescent mental disorders skyrocketed. And at this crucial juncture, we decided to begin allowing students to use smartphones throughout the school day. These students would not know how to set boundaries for how they used their phones. They’d have no understanding of the psychological vulnerabilities that tech companies exploited—no training in how to use their phone without it using them. Most of all, they’d have no environment where they could be free from the incessant psychic drain that had come to define their world. Oblivious to any responsibility to help students or their families adapt better, our schools helped facilitate the community’s descent into becoming screen-addicted, constantly distracted people whose cognitive skills and attention spans were being chipped away rather than cultivated.

You’re welcome to read the full article.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 29, 2022 at 4:38 AM

20 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Definitely great saturated colours. The pollen looks like gold dust.


    April 29, 2022 at 6:37 AM

  2. Remember Godot, the cactus that received his name because I waited forever for him to bloom? He was a lace cactus from the hill country; I just re-read the posts about him and his companion, Godette. It might be time to republish those posts as a way of priming the writing pump again.

    I thought I remembered Roemer coming across this species during his travels. It wasn’t; he came across Echinocactus texensis. He did add this interesting note to his journal: “People in Europe have the erroneous idea that cacti grow exclusively on rocky, infertile soil. This is not the case in Texas, for very often they are found in the prairie, growing in black, fertile humus, surrounded by high grass.” I can’t say I’ve ever found a lace cactus on the prairie, but I’ve certainly found them in grassy areas rather than on bare or rocky cliffs.


    April 29, 2022 at 7:50 AM

    • Ah yes, I do remember Godot and Godette, though not that they were lace cacti. If republishing your account of them primes the writing pump again, so much the better. Yesterday I went looking for prickly pear flowers after noticing my first few for this year along the road into our neighborhood the previous day. I did find a bunch of them where I was yesterday and took appropriate pictures. The bit of rich violet color I saw in the distance caught me off guard. At first I thought it was verbena. A closer look happily disabused me of that notion. I’d seen lace cacti in that location several times over the years but never had the timing been right for flowers till yesterday, so my waiting finally came to an end.

      Speaking of Roemer, at Doeskin Ranch the previous day we ended up keeping pace for a while with a French couple who were interested in our native plants. In conjunction with something or other—I don’t recall what plant—I mentioned Roemer to the guy. If even many Americans have misconceptions about many of our plants, how much more do people in other parts of the world?

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 29, 2022 at 8:43 AM

  3. You zeroed in on the flower’s centre showing great colour and detail, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    April 29, 2022 at 9:41 AM

    • To my surprise, when I returned today I found all the lace cactus flowers shriveled down to almost nothing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 29, 2022 at 1:39 PM

  4. Yes, wonderful colors—and details. A showcase for studying the parts of a blooming flower! I particularly like the pollen grains dusting the inside of the blossom.


    April 29, 2022 at 9:42 AM

    • Of course if all that pollen weren’t available, the flower would be wasting its time. We who can’t disseminate pollen get to disseminate pictures and ideas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 29, 2022 at 1:41 PM

  5. The cactus photograph is beautiful!

    I think my son’s generation is the last that grew up without smartphones. He got his first one when he was already in college. I don’t know how one can raise a child these days.

    Alessandra Chaves

    April 29, 2022 at 9:01 PM

    • Yes, the colors were so rich they pulled me in. By getting close with a ring flash on my 100mm macro lens I could stop down to f/25 for good depth of field.

      I’m glad I’m not teaching now because I don’t think I could contend with students distracted by phones, laptops, and tablets. I also haven’t had to raise children, then or more recently; it must be hard indeed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 29, 2022 at 9:48 PM

  6. Looks like a nice brooch.

    Steve Gingold

    April 30, 2022 at 3:07 AM

  7. The cactus bloom is spectacular, and I agree with everything you said about the technology in schools. It breaks my heart to see a classroom of kindergartners sitting at desks with their laptops open, and no play materials in sight.

    Birder's Journey

    April 30, 2022 at 11:16 AM

    • The lace cactus flowers disappeared in a day. If only the wrong moves in education could vanish as quickly!

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 30, 2022 at 3:24 PM

      • How wonderful that you captured the cactus flower just in time at the height of its beauty!
        I couldn’t agree more about the ‘wrong moves’ in education. . . It’s been getting worse instead of better over the past 2+ decades. Dreadfully sad.

        Birder's Journey

        May 1, 2022 at 6:10 AM

        • Yes, dreadfully sad. I didn’t expect to live long enough to see so many elements of our civilization decline all at once.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 1, 2022 at 6:51 AM

  8. Fabulous colours – that pink is like silk. Very vibrant!

    Ann Mackay

    April 30, 2022 at 5:53 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: