Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Red and russet

with 16 comments


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.)


‡        ‡        ‡


Two days ago I reported how more than three million people have entered the United States in the past year by illegally coming across our southern border. The American government’s own statistics show that approximately two-thirds of those border crossers are currently being allowed to stay in the country despite having entered illegally. Not only that, the current administration is using our tax money to bus and fly lots of those illegal entrants anywhere they choose to go inside the country, even though there’s no way to verify who many of them are.

Unless you happen to be Abdul Wasi Safi. He’s an Afghan who worked with Americans in Afghanistan but couldn’t manage to get on any of the last American planes leaving his country during the chaotic and disgraceful pull-out of American forces and some Afghan allies in 2021. Abdul Wasi Safi spent months enduring hardships and dangers as he gradually made it half-way around the world and walked across the Rio Grande River into Texas near Eagle Pass. He was soon arrested and put in prison. No free bus or plane ticket into the interior of the country for him. The current American administration is working to deport him back to Afghanistan, where the Taliban, who know who he is, will kill him.

You can read much more about Abdul Wasi Safi’s ordeal in an excellent article by Allison P. Erickson in the Texas Tribune.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 20, 2022 at 4:31 AM

16 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. That’s gorgeous and perfect for the season. While in Calif. recently I saw Toyon in bloom with its red berries. It’s so Christmasy!


    December 20, 2022 at 5:47 AM

  2. We have a few possumhaw trees around our property, but they are small and I have never seen them so loaded with berries as you have captured in that photo. They’re a stunning pop of red in the woodlands this time of year.

    I applaud you for pointing out what is happening in our country. I am appalled that so many have blinders on, and refuse to see the escalation of horror. God help us is all I can say.


    December 20, 2022 at 6:28 AM

    • “A stunning pop of red” is a good way to describe it. This tree was an especially fine specimen; let’s hope your smaller ones grow up to emulate it.

      People who watch only legacy television news channels wouldn’t know about the chaos and lawlessness along our southern border because those stations purposely keep from reporting it. I wish I could stay exclusively in the world of nature photography here, but citizens need to speak out, and that’s what events of the past three years have led me to do.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2022 at 7:30 AM

  3. This is a glorious example of possumhaw. The yaupons can be pretty, but I do enjoy seeing these with their berries taking center stage without having to compete with the leaves.


    December 20, 2022 at 7:19 AM

    • A glorious example indeed. I’d begun seeing a few good but small possumhaws with fruit on our trip to Lost Maples a few weeks ago, and that set me to thinking about searching for larger ones back in Austin. The Wildflower Center soon answered my unspoken request. I’m also still enjoying the yaupons in our yard even if, as you said, the green leaves temper the brightness of the red fruit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2022 at 7:39 AM

  4. Although the red berries tried so hard to conceal the blue sky with their impressive density, they failed. The remaining blue enhances your picture.

    Peter Klopp

    December 20, 2022 at 9:24 AM

    • As you saw with the photographs I posted from Lost Maples, a bright blue sky in the background works wonders in enhancing warm colors in the foreground.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2022 at 3:00 PM

  5. Wow, those possums really know how to decorate, what a beautiful display.

    Robert Parker

    December 20, 2022 at 10:10 AM

    • You didn’t hem and haw but came straight to the point about this berry beautiful display.

      The haw in possumhaw is the same as the haw in hawthorn.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2022 at 3:06 PM

  6. It’s hawsome. Immigration policies the world over are decidely weird. A case in point from a few years ago. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jun/20/we-thought-wed-never-get-out-a-refugee-from-manus-starts-life-in-the-us


    December 21, 2022 at 11:31 PM

    • Yes, there are many sad stories and much craziness. There’s one glitch in the Guardian article. In the fourth paragraph we read that “The Taliban beheaded Hazara…” but the word Hazara hasn’t previously appeared and we have no idea what it means. Near the end of the article comes a mention of “ethnic Hazara,” so we finally find out it’s an ethnicity.

      You played an apt word into existence: “hawsome.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 22, 2022 at 7:38 AM

  7. Love how thick and plentiful the berries are … great subject!


    December 23, 2022 at 2:19 PM

    • In other years I’ve seen possumhaw trees with even more fruit than this one—not that this wasn’t a fine specimen.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 23, 2022 at 3:31 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: