Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Blanco, Blanco, Blanco, Blanco

with 29 comments


The smallest of the four Blancos in this post’s title is a state park. It’s on a river of the same name in a town of the same name in a county of the selfsame name. On November 27th our route to Lost Maples took us through the town of Blanco, so we stopped at Blanco State Park, which despite being only 60 miles and about an hour from home we’d somehow never managed to visit.



The stars of the show there were bald cypress trees, Taxodium distichum, turning brown
and especially russet when seen with backlighting. (Click to enlarge the final view.)




© 2022 Steven Schwartzman






Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 17, 2022 at 4:27 AM

29 Responses

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  1. Wonderful colours and always so much better against a blue sky.


    December 17, 2022 at 8:36 AM

  2. I’ve always enjoyed the bald cypress; they can be as pretty in our landscaping as they are along the Frio, Sabinal, or Blanco rivers. I’ve been lucky enough to see them from time to time in their full glory, but at least around here they were pretty much of a dud this year. By the time they started to turn, they already were dropping leaves, and now they’re close to completely bare. So it goes — next year!

    It does look as though your lucky year is going to continue. When I looked at our weather forecast and saw sub-freezing temperatures ahead, even into the twenties, I suspected you already have been planning to seek out the elusive frost flowers.


    December 17, 2022 at 9:10 AM

    • Yup, it’s on the agenda for tomorrow morning, when the temperature is predicted to get down near freezing. In other years a showing of 34° on our back patio thermometer has proved cold enough for the frostweed half a mile away in Great Hills Park to have done its thing. Even if that fails tomorrow, the forecast calls for the temperature to drop into the low 20s by the end of next week.

      The bald cypresses in Austin weren’t great this year, either, so I was happy to find some good ones in Blanco. In the office at the entrance to Blanco State Park I asked if there were any particularly good places in the park for fall color. The guy couldn’t come up with any but he obviously doesn’t see things the way a nature photographer does.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 17, 2022 at 9:31 AM

  3. Another set of glorious fall pictures! In an area with so many Blanco names, I would have expected a lot of snow around this time of the year as a northerner.

    Peter Klopp

    December 17, 2022 at 9:36 AM

    • Yes, this has been a great year for fall foliage in central Texas, and I certainly took advantage of that.

      As not all that glitters is gold, not all that’s white is snow. The Handbook of Texas gives this explanation for the name of the river: “In 1721 members of the Aguayo expedition named the river for the white limestone along the banks and in the streambed.”

      And speaking of blanco, few English speakers realize that a blanket gets its name from the white cloth that was once used in making it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 17, 2022 at 11:05 AM

  4. That sounds like something Rosa Lopez would say about O. J. Simpson’s car. Bald cypress are still rare here, but are not as rare as they had been before the Arbor Day Foundation gave away so many during the early 1990s or so. Some of those trees are maturing nicely. Because of their knees, which I had heard about but until only recently had never experienced, I was concerned to see them as street trees in Oklahoma City. I also noticed some along the Oklahoma River through Oklahoma City within Oklahoma County within Oklahoma.


    December 17, 2022 at 12:06 PM

    • In looking at the range map I see that central Texas is the westernmost stronghold for the bald cypress. I’ve never thought about people planting them in California. Like you, I’ve wondered about them as street trees, even here, where people do use them that way. I always associate them with watercourses, where they thrive and can grow huge.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 17, 2022 at 1:11 PM

      • When I asked about them in Oklahoma, I was told that they are native to the South, but I did not ask how far South that is. They are native, although rare, within Cleveland County, just south of Oklahoma County, as well as a few other counties in Oklahoma, mostly to the South and East. I saw so many in Oklahoma County and Cleveland County that I thought that they might be native. That is why I asked. (Although native trees are promoted here, they are actually rare in refined landscapes, and are not particularly practical for such.) Unfortunately, it was necessary to remove one of only two bald cypress trees at work. Another remains, but is not yet much to brag about. That is the tree that developed knees down next to a stream.


        December 17, 2022 at 6:45 PM

        • If you click the plus sign in the map at
          you can enlarge enough to see county-by-county distribution.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 17, 2022 at 6:54 PM

          • This map shows that it is only native to three counties within Oklahoma, and does not designate that it is rare within those counties. I have no way of knowing which is accurate. Although I saw it in Cleveland County, I did not notice it growing wild there. All the specimens that I noticed were installed into refined landscapes.


            December 17, 2022 at 7:48 PM

            • Sounds like a lot of landscapers are planting bald cypresses.

              Steve Schwartzman

              December 17, 2022 at 7:52 PM

              • Most of those here were planted at about the same time in the early 1990s, before the species resumed its former rarity. The smaller of the two that is still here (after the other was removed) was planted later, although I do not know when. They are still rare everywhere I go in California, but my be more popular in the Pacific Northwest. Not many people here are familiar with them.


                December 17, 2022 at 8:06 PM

  5. How nice to find a pretty park to visit that’s only an hour’s drive.

    Robert Parker

    December 17, 2022 at 3:20 PM

    • We’ve been to so many nature places within an hour of home. How we missed this one all these years, I don’t know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 17, 2022 at 3:27 PM

  6. Lovely color contrast of the foliage and sky in the first image.


    December 17, 2022 at 5:45 PM

  7. That’s pretty!!


    December 17, 2022 at 5:50 PM

    • It was a pretty prelude to the brighter fall foliage we saw two hours later at Lost Maples.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 17, 2022 at 7:17 PM

  8. I love the warmth that’s radiating out of the top picture – lovely!

    Ann Mackay

    December 18, 2022 at 10:39 AM

    • The russet that bald cypresses can turn—and that looks especially good against a bright blue sky—definitely exudes warmth. Backlighting enhanced it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 18, 2022 at 5:05 PM

  9. […] Two sources of year-end color from trees in Austin are the fruit of the possumhaw, Ilex decidua, and the leaves of the bald cypress, Taxodium distichum. Here you see one in front of the other at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on December 9th. (A recent post featured colorful bald cypress in its own right.) […]

  10. […] Blanco State Park on November 27th the sycamore trees, Platanus occidentalis, contended with the bald cypresses to put on a display of fall foliage. While it’s common for sycamore leaves to turn yellow and […]

  11. It’s funny sometimes how often we overlook these sorts of locations that are plenty near enough to us. But at the same time it’s nice knowing we still have more places to explore without having to travel all that far.

    Todd Henson

    December 23, 2022 at 10:36 AM

    • Yes. During the first year of the pandemic we drove around our area—it was a safe thing to do—and were surprised by the number of nature places we discovered, some just 15 minutes from home. It’s especially strange that this fall’s visit to Blanco State Park was our first because for years I’ve been buying an annual state park permit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 23, 2022 at 11:13 AM

  12. Nice matching color story to this set!


    December 23, 2022 at 2:22 PM

  13. You found a lot of nice golden foliage this year.

    Steve Gingold

    December 24, 2022 at 4:11 PM

    • I sure did. It was my best fall foliage in decades. Northern New Mexico kicked it off in October and Austin ended it a couple of weeks ago.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 24, 2022 at 5:01 PM

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