Portraits of Wildflowers

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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 latifolia) 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

Thousandths

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Cattail Seed Head Blowing 1996

A thousandth of a second is how I set my shutter speed to record this seed head of a cattail, Typha latifolia, blowing in the breeze at the Arbor Walk Pond on December 29, 2014.

According to an online article, a single cattail stalk can produce a quarter of a million seeds. Such a large number implies that the seeds are tiny, and they turn out to be only about 0.2 mm, or 8 thousandths of an inch, long (not counting the attached fluff, of course).

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 20, 2015 at 5:42 AM

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You can count on Mexican hat

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Mexican Hat Flower Head 1634

The wildflower called Mexican hat, Ratibida columnifera, reaches its flowering peak with the formation of colonies in the late spring, but it’s common to see at least a few of these plants blooming here and there for the rest of the year. When I was at the Arbor Walk Pond on December 26, 2014, I noticed exactly one Mexican hat plant with several flower heads on it, but by then I’d run out of daylight and decided I’d go back soon if I could. The weather over the next couple of days was yucky, but on the morning of the 29th we had sunlight so I returned and took plenty of pictures, including the one shown here. The ray flowers on this Mexican hat, though a bit ragged around the edges, brought welcome bits of brightness to a landscape that has become mostly dun now that winter has arrived.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 6, 2015 at 5:37 AM

Illinois bundleflower

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Illinois Bundleflower Dry Bundle 6065

Click for greater clarity.

When I was at the Arbor Walk Pond on December 4, 2013 (yes, that’s a year and a month and a day ago), I noticed the remains of various native plants. One was Illinois bundleflower, Desmanthus illinoensis, whose many small and scrunched-up pods form the bundles referred to in the common name. A post from the spring of 2012 showed some of these bundles when they were still green, but from farther away and playing a supporting role to the bluebell flowers that were then the attention-getters.

In today’s photograph, the seeds that had gotten caught on the dry pods were either from poverty weed or cattails, both of which were shedding plenty of fluff nearby.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 5, 2015 at 5:43 AM

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