Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Search Results

A bitterweed bud and bloom and beyond and a bee

with 18 comments

It’s been a couple of years since I showed you the common wildflower known as yellow bitterweed, Helenium amarum var. amarum. The native-bee-bedecked portrait above is from August 18th in Round Rock. At the same time I took what I believe are my first pictures ever of a bud in this species, so here’s one of those:

Toward the opposite end of the development cycle, here’s what a seed head looks like when it’s decomposing:

Many parts of the United States are experiencing a summer drought now. People longing for cooler and wetter times may find the following cold-weather fact welcome, and probably also surprising: if a lake has a solid covering of ice 12 inches deep, an 8-ton truck can drive on it. If you want to know how much weight other thicknesses of ice can bear, check out this chart. Notice that the relationship isn’t linear: doubling the thickness allows the ice to bear a lot more than twice the weight.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 26, 2020 at 4:38 AM

Bluebell bud and flower

with 25 comments

Way back on June 8th I went to a little pond I know on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin because in some previous years I’d found good amounts of bluebells (Eustoma sp.) there. No luck then, but I did better when I returned on July 29th. Well, only slightly better: I found exactly three scattered bluebells, and all of them had been partly eaten (by what, I don’t know). By getting on the ground and aiming judiciously, I managed to make this portrait of a bluebell bud rising in front of a non-nibbled part of one of the flowers.

In our Ancient History Department, the magazine Archaeology reports in its July/August 2020 issue the discovery at Abri du Maras in France of the earliest known piece of cord. It dates back 46,000 years and was made, surprisingly, by Neanderthals. The article says that the “cord was made of three separate strands of fiber taken from the inner bark of a coniferous tree… The strands were then twisted in a clockwise direction to hold the fibers together, after which they were twisted together in a counterclockwise motion to make the cord.” That led archaeologist Bruce Hardy of Kenyon College “to believe that Neanderthals shared a cognitive capacity for mathematics with modern humans.” You can read more about this find in a Science News story.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 19, 2020 at 4:46 AM

Two takes on square-bud primrose flowers

with 44 comments

Along the Capital of Texas Highway on June 13th I found some bright yellow flowers of Oenothera berlandieri, known descriptively as square-bud primroses and poetically as sundrops. How could I not get down low and make abstract portraits of such sunny wildflowers? The first picture shown here plays up the idea of “a light shining in the darkness.” In the second, I was intrigued by the way one of the plant’s leaves curled into a spiral and turned reddish-brown as it dried out. A spider had been intrigued enough to hang out inside the spiral.

Unrelated proverb for today: You can’t unring a bell.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 30, 2020 at 4:41 AM

Cowpen daisy buds and flowers

with 34 comments

For whatever reason, I rarely come across cowpen daisies (Verbesina encelioides) except in a few places, all of which conveniently happen to be near each other in my own neighborhood. On June 6th (D-for-Daisy Day) I was coming home “the back way” on Rain Creek Parkway when I spotted some wildflowers by the side of the road bordering the Great Hills Country Club and stopped to investigate.

The Wikipedia article on this species gives the additional common names golden crownbeard, gold weed, wild sunflower, butter daisy, American dogweed, and South African daisy. That last is strange because this species is native in North America, not South Africa.

In contrast to the yellowscuro portrait above, look at how different the second picture is. I’d made it two minutes earlier by getting low and aiming upward toward a patch of bright blue sky rather than downward toward a partly shaded area the way I did in the top portrait.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 2, 2020 at 4:43 AM

Texas thistle bud with disk florets emerging parallel

with 26 comments

I don’t remember ever seeing an opening Cirsium texanum bud whose disc florets* had emerged so far while keeping together in a bundle of parallel elements.  If any of you who are familiar with this wildflower have seen instances of the emerging florets staying so neatly packed for such a distance, please let me know; maybe it’s not as unusual as I think. I found this roughly cylindrical thistle on June 10th in the town of Manor.

*The Texas thistle, though in the composite botanical family, lacks ray florets. So does its local tribe-mate in that family, the basket-flower.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 1, 2020 at 4:38 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , ,

Engelmann daisy flower head and bud

with 25 comments

From April 26th along Old Lampasas Trail comes this gialloscuro* portrait
of Engelmann daisies (Engelmannia peristenia).

* The Italian term chiaroscuro means literally bright-dark. I replaced the first part with giallo,
the Italian word for yellow, to get gialloscuro. In Englitalian that’s yellowscuro.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 30, 2020 at 4:38 AM

An unusual pink evening primrose bud

with 37 comments

I’ve long been intrigued by the buds of pink evening primrose, Oenothera speciosa, especially as they open. Usually they’re pretty straight, but this one at the Riata Trace Pond on April 5th attracted me all the more because of its curved tip. People have told me that the little green insect, which I’m not sure I even noticed at the time, is an aphid nymph.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 23, 2020 at 4:38 PM

Redbud tree blossoming

with 41 comments

How about the pink and blue of a blossoming redbud tree
(Cercis canadensis var. texensis) against a clear sky?
I photographed this one about an hour southeast
of Austin in Smithville on March 6th.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 15, 2020 at 4:43 PM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , ,

Flower bud and leaf bud

with 41 comments

When I worked along the northern stretch of Spicewood Springs Rd. across from the library on March 3rd, several familiar spring friends were in evidence, including the agarita you saw last time and a few Mexican plum trees, Prunus mexicana. This close-up shows you two kinds of plum buds, one for flowers and the other for leaves. It’s also possible to have budding photographers.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 11, 2020 at 4:44 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

Prairie fleabane daisy bud

with 55 comments

At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on February 3rd I found some opening prairie fleabane daisy buds, Erigeron modestus. At the stage shown in this portrait, each bud is maybe a third of an inch (8 mm) across.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 5, 2020 at 4:45 AM

%d bloggers like this: