Portraits of Wildflowers

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Two stages of a Texas thistle

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Around the pond at the Arbor Walk on April 15th I saw several stages of Texas thistles (Cirsium texanum),
including these two. Both views include blue, first looking down toward the water, then up at the sky.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 28, 2020 at 4:53 PM

More bending

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Following in the tradition of the right-angled rain-lily and the retro-tipped pink evening primrose bud you’ve recently seen in these pages, here’s a Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera) with a bent central column that I found by the pond at the south end of the Arbor Walk on April 15th. The blue is water, not sky.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 27, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Bulrushes with wispy clouds

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Austin botanist Bill Carr describes the southern bulrush, Schoenoplectus californicus, as “the tallest of our sedges, forming large dense colonies, vaguely reminiscent of those of cat-tails, in shallow to fairly deep water….” Also called the California bulrush, the species is nevertheless native in Texas and more than a dozen other states. You’re seeing a colony that stands by the pond at the Arbor Walk as it looked on April 15th. By getting low enough and aiming high enough I managed to turn the bulrushes into classy cloud-climbers and also exclude the traffic on Mopac as well as the office buildings on the far side of the expressway.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 22, 2020 at 4:22 AM

Not snow

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A first glance may make you think you’re seeing a dusting of snow, but no: it was fluff from cattails (Typha spp.) and goldenrod (Solidago altissima) that had settled indiscriminately over all the nearby plants at the Arbor Walk Pond on December 3rd. This is another good example of point 15 in About My Techniques.

Below is a closer and darker take on a clump of cattail seed fluff that had fallen onto a dry goldenrod plant.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 7, 2019 at 4:44 AM

Yeah, we still have some wildflowers in December.

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A bright flower head of camphorweed (Heterotheca subaxillaris) at the Arbor Walk Pond on December 3.
No “weed,” this.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 23, 2018 at 4:44 AM

What hedge apple, horse apple, monkey ball, Osage orange, and mock orange refer to

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The previous post highlighted (and backlighted) the yellow leaves on a tree that botanists call Maclura pomifera. The vernacular names hedge apple, horse apple, monkey ball, Osage orange, and mock orange all refer to the tree’s large and rugged fruits. Today’s photograph shows some that still clung to branches at the Arbor Walk Pond on December 3rd. In case you’re wondering, these fruits aren’t edible, at least not to people. Pit in Fredericksburg reports having seen deer eating them and a squirrel struggling to haul one up a tree; you can read descriptions in his second set of comments on the last post.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 16, 2018 at 4:37 AM

From buds to flowers

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Coral Honeysuckly Flowers 5659

Near the beginning of January I showed you some buds of coral honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens, that I’d seen out of season a couple of weeks earlier. When I was at the Arbor Walk Pond on February 22nd I saw some of that same kind of honeysuckle that had flowered and was making a vivid contrast with the blue sky (at least when looked at from down low, about which vantage point I’ve already given you the lowdown). Another name for this wildflower is trumpet honeysuckle; those are some long, long trumpets, don’t you think?

And here’s what some new growth on this kind of vine looked like that day:

Coral Honeysuckle New Growth 5671

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 20, 2016 at 5:05 AM

The advantage of a vantage point

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Cattail Seed Heads Turned Fluffy 5845

If I got low to the ground and looked down to portray the southern dewberry flower you saw last time, I’d lain on the ground a few minutes earlier on February 22nd and aimed upward enough to align these cattails (Typha domingensis) with the cumulus clouds overhead while excluding the power lines and buildings adjacent to the Arbor Walk Pond that hosted these plants. The central cattail reminded me of Auckland’s Sky Tower, which I visited in February of 2015.

Below is a closer look at one of the unraveling cattails. This time I was standing and aimed slightly downward to bring in the pond but keep out the buildings on its far side. All those segments beyond the cattail were bulrushes.

Cattail Turned Fluffy by Bulrushes 5732

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 5, 2016 at 5:08 AM

First southern dewberry flower of the season

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Southern Dewberry Flower 5861

On February 22nd at the Arbor Walk Pond I saw my first southern dewberry flower, Rubus trivialis, for 2016. As was true for some other species you’ve seen here recently, this wildflower was putting in an early appearance: typically southern dewberry begins blooming in March.

UPDATE: I finally figured out what this flower has been reminding me of. It may seem far-fetched, but I’m reminded of the white-shirted man in Goya’s painting “El tres de mayo de 1808 en Madrid.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 4, 2016 at 4:58 AM

A native grass by the light of the almost-setting sun

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Bushy Bluestem Seed Head 1171

During the same late-afternoon session on December 26, 2014, at the Arbor Walk Pond that brought you a photograph of a velvetleaf mallow flower, I couldn’t help noticing how reddened this seed head of bushy bluestem, Andropogon glomeratus, looked by the light of the close-to-setting sun, and how well the warm colors were set off by the azure of the clear sky beyond them.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 24, 2015 at 5:00 AM

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