Portraits of Wildflowers

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Following the creek downstream from Hamilton Pool

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Triangular Boulder by Bald Cypress Trees 4315

Click for greater clarity and size.

In this scene from my August 19th visit to Hamilton Pool Preserve, you’re looking at a portion of the creek that flows out of the famous pool and continues more than half a mile through woods before emptying into the Pedernales River.

The tree behind the triangular boulder and the tall trees in the distance that you also see reflected in the creek are bald cypresses, Taxodium distichum. Bald cypresses can grow to be huge, but we rarely see any like that now because German and Anglo settlers in central Texas in the mid-1800s cut so many of them down for the trees’ wood.

Here my primary subject was the boulder, but if you’d like to see some bald cypresses in their own right, you can check out a photograph from 2007. For a less clear view (that’s a novelty, right?) you can see a bald cypress in fog. And if you’d like to exercise your imagination, there’s even a bald cypress “rainbow.”

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 13, 2013 at 6:17 AM

Blue mistflower at Hamilton Pool Preserve

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Conoclinium coelestinum Flowers 4391

Click for greater clarity.

Something else I saw during my August 19th visit to Hamilton Pool Preserve was this “blue” mistflower, Conoclinium coelestinum. That common name is yet another example of how widely some people’s color sense can vary (or go astray, as my eyes see things). And speaking of common names, mistflower, which applies to relatives of this species as well, comes from the fact that the many little “threads” emanating from these flower heads make them look hazy or misty when seen from a distance.

You may be surprised to learn that this species is in the sunflower family, even though its flowers don’t look like sunflowers or asters or daisies. Conoclinium is in the tribe (i.e. branch) of the sunflower family called Eupatorieae—and who but a biologist would make up a word with four consecutive vowels in it?

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 12, 2013 at 5:50 AM

Hamilton Pool

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Hamilton Pool Overhang with Falling Water 4299

A well-known scenic spot some 20 miles to the west of downtown Austin is Hamilton Pool. During the spring and summer this preserve can be crowded, and when I left there after my visit on August 19, at least a dozen cars were waiting in line to enter. (Parking spaces are limited, and once all of them are filled a new car is let in only after a space is vacated.)

Here you see a portion of the preserve’s most popular feature, a limestone overhang with a waterfall that maintains a permanent pool of water. In the current drought the waterfall is much reduced but still flowing, and the pool, as deep as ever, beckons to many a bather.

Following a recent pattern, the next few posts will be from this location.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 10, 2013 at 6:17 AM

Purple leatherflower releasing its seeds

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Clematis pitcheri Core with Few Seeds Left 4509

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And now here’s a look at a Clematis pitcheri, or purple leatherflower, at the stage where one of the vine’s drying seed cores has loosened its hold on many of its mature seeds and has left only a few still hanging on. Once again you’re welcome to compare this to the much more common Clematis drummondii when it’s at a similar stage.

This picture is the last you’ll be seeing from my visit to Hamilton Pool Preserve on August 19th. The photograph’s background color is from the Pedernales River, which this purple leatherflower vine overlooked from a bluff.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 19, 2013 at 1:06 PM

Purple leatherflower producing seeds

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Clematis pitcheri Green Seed Core 4485

Click for greater clarity.

In the last posts you saw a slightly open bud and then a flower of Clematis pitcheri, known as purple leatherflower. Now, skipping ahead in the plant’s development, here’s a view of a seed core that’s newly formed, as you can see from its pale green color. You also begin to see the resemblance to the much more common species in central Texas, Clematis drummondii, even if the leatherflower’s strands seem uninterestingly simple by comparison.

This picture is yet another one from my visit to Hamilton Pool Preserve on August 19th. The photograph’s background color is from the Pedernales River, which this purple leatherflower vine overlooked from a bluff.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 19, 2013 at 6:16 AM

More orange

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Ctenucha Moth on Eupatorium serotinum Flowers 4340

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As I wandered along the trail on August 19th at Hamilton Pool Preserve, not only did I see an orange butterfly, but also a bunch of orange-collared moths on some Eupatorium serotinum, a white-blossoming member of the same tribe, Eupatorieae, as the blue mistflower that was blooming nearby. From what I’ve found online, this kind of moth might be Cisseps fulvicollis; on the other hand, it looks like it could be Ctenucha virginica; but then again, it also resembles Acoloithus falsarius (except that in that species the orange collar is supposedly bisected by a strip of black). Entomologists, feel free to lend your expertise to, as Wikipedia likes to put it, disambiguate the situation.

For the technically minded: this moth kept moving around on the flowers, so I used a shutter speed of 1/500 sec. to stop the action. Because the insect was in almost constant motion, I didn’t have the luxury of taking time to align the camera’s focal plane with as much of the moth’s body as possible. Faced with that difficult situation, I kept my focus on the bright orange patch on the back of the moth’s head, knowing that other parts of its body wouldn’t be as sharp.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 15, 2013 at 6:13 AM

Texas persimmon

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Texas Persimmon with Peeling Bark 4406

Several trees native to Texas are known for their distinctive peeling bark. One is the madrone. Another, as common in central Texas as the madrone is scarce, is the mighty sycamore. A third tree with peeling bark, the one you see here, is the Texas persimmon, Diospyros texana. Notice how, near the top of the photograph, the most prominent of the separating pieces of bark curls so tightly as to close on itself and form a rough cylinder. At least one smaller patch of bark lower down does the same thing.

Like other species of Diospyros, the Texas persimmon produces edible fruits, and I saw several smushed ones along the trail close to this sun-dappled tree at the Hamilton Pool Preserve on August 19th. By the way, although the word persimmon might suggest some reference to Persia (as peach in fact does), English borrowed the name of this tree from Virginia Algonquian, an aboriginal language of eastern North America.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 14, 2013 at 5:59 AM

At least a skipperling

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Least Skipperling on Nolina Leaf Tip 4359

As I wandered along the trail on August 19th at Hamilton Pool Preserve, I noticed a small orange butterfly on a bedraggled leaf tip of a beargrass plant (which is in the genus Nolina). I thought it might be a least skipperling, Ancyloxypha numitor, but on September 14th Dan Hardy (thanks) of the Austin Butterfly Forum told me that this little butterfly is most likely an orange skipperling, Copaeodes aurantiacus. According to Stephen G. Williams, as mentioned by John Tveten in his book about butterflies of Houston, this is the most common skipperling in Austin. The two tiny “horns” on the butterfly’s face between its eyes are still puzzling.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 11, 2013 at 6:07 AM

When is a “petal” not a petal? When is a “flower” not a flower?

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When is a “petal” not a petal? When is a “flower” not a flower? The answer to both of those questions is the same. Ponder if you will, then continue for the answer.

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 3, 2014 at 6:00 AM

A new round of frolicking with search criteria

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Following in the tradition of the fun post from New Year’s Day 2012 and the fun post from New Year’s Day 2013, here are a few of the things that people typed into their search engines during the past year that ended up bringing them to this blog. Sometimes the search engine did a great job of figuring out what the person wanted, sometimes it misled the searcher, and other times anybody would have a hard time figuring out what the searcher wanted. My response to each search string appears indented below it.


the beter sunflawer

There are no flaws in my sunflawer pictures, and you’d beter not say there are.

lost ductman mine state park

Wasn’t The Flying Ductman an opera by Wagner? By what alchemy did the search engine turn Ductman into Schwartzman?

where are greackles supost to be in december

Here’s where that query led.

portates made in wild flower fields

How about portraits? Or maybe you were hungry and were thinking of portatoes.

protraits of wildflowers rembrandt

You got Rembrandt right but you couldn’t spell portraits?

vicki wildflower portets

Et tu, Vicki.

fruit portraits with no people in it

At least this searcher knows how to spell portraits, but what does he have against people?

frog portraits

I’m surprised anyone wanted a frog portrait, but what the search engine led to was a photograph of a little wildflower called frog fruit.

asteronomer terning center

Frailty, thy name is spelling.

snowscpe exposure

There isn’t a single snowscape in my blog. Not even a snowscpe.

how many petals are on a firewheele

Technically speaking, zero, because each “petal” is actually a ray flower unto itself. The extra e at the end of firewheele should also go away and become a thing unto itself.

“henriette flatsetø”

I have no idea why a search for this Norwegian girl led to my blog.

clematis drummondii pod

Nice try, but Clematis drummondii doesn’t produce pods.

who sells hookers palafoxia seed

I don’t know, but I sure don’t sell palafoxia seed to any hookers.

lots en sioux huisache #9 donna tx

After the search engine ignored everything except huisache and TX, the searcher got taken to this picture.

new year is rain of pleasant

In Austin we did have some drizzle on January 1 of 2012, but rain of pleasant sounds so much more poetic than drizzle.

25 year tgp

The best I can make out is that TGP stands for Technical Glass Products. I don’t think they make any wildflowers.

what is a flower basket called

Word order matters: a flower basket isn’t a basket-flower.

j’adore sunflower

Moi too.

oltimer golden eye

I guess the search engine considers me an ol’-timer now, someone in his golden years, but still with a good eye.

do mexican hats ratabida plants spread & send out scouts

Yes, the Mexican hats send out scouts on horseback to reconnoiter the countryside.

do wasps like ragweed

I don’t know, but the search engine led the questioner to a post of mine about paper wasps building their nest on a dry giant ragweed plant. I think any similar support for the nest would have worked just as well.

are widows tears plant good luck

It was good luck for me, because I got this dynamic picture.

brown manuring in rice

I won’t go there.

dr partridge buffalo

I get the partridge and the buffalo, but the doctor stymies me.


Will you settle for groundsel + Texans?

what weed blooms in october in brookahaven miss thats bad on allergies

Why a question about Brookhaven, Mississippi, would lead to Austin, Texas, I don’t know, but the answer is probably ragweed.

definition of texas native grasses

Definition: Texas native grasses are grasses that are native in Texas.

painted lady butterfly wisconsin

I didn’t realize that Texas had annexed Wisconsin.

birthday spanking family


zex sex
teny 19 sex mania
photos sek mania mexico

As with similar queries in 2011 and 2012, these took some (undoubtedly let down) guys to a post about the wildflower called zexmenia. What kinky thing the searchers had in mind, I have no idea. If any of you do, shame on you.

body wax drop

What the person got taken to was a picture of two ants trapped in a drop of sunflower resin.

promiscuous louisianica

Make that Proboscidea louisianica. The plant may be the devil’s claw, but does that make it promiscuous? Or maybe it’s those wild folks in New Orleans.

pictures of snow on mountains

All the searcher got was a hot-weather view of the wildflower called snow-on-the-mountain.

grackle bird houston

Houston, Boston, Austin: they’re all the same place, aren’t they?

places without ragweed

But the search engine took you to Austin, the allergy capital of America, with lots of common ragweed and giant ragweed.

bluebells flowers “long island”

The bluebells are from Texas and I’m from Long Island.

why white heron comes inland?

Why did the chicken cross the road?

clarity of a bird

I don’t know what the searcher was after, but the query led to a post about a grackle on a metal fence, and beneath the photograph was a version of my usual caption: “Click for better color, clarity, and size.”

jack loticus snake rhyme

No post of mine mentions Jack Loticus or the rhyme he invented so people could distinguish a coral snake, which is venomous, from some similar-looking snakes that aren’t venomous. You can check out the original rhyme and some variants here.

middle east flowers and buds

Austin is more or less in the middle eastern part of Texas, but somehow I doubt that’s what the searcher had in mind.

flowers of the world

What a great example of narrowing your search string. When I tried this phrase I got 191 million hits.

google map of lake ontario

The searcher must have been surprised that “my” Lake Ontario was formed by clouds over Austin.

темная оса

That’s tyemnaya osa, Russian for ‘dark wasp.’ The day this search term turned up, no one was led to a post about a wasp. The viewed post closest to that was about an Argiope spider.

what leaf when spirals freezes

Make that 1 for 2 for the search engine: I showed a picture of a willow leaf spiral but I assure you nothing was freezing outdoors in Texas in September.

elm leaf tattoo

The search engine apparently thought that my picture of a new cedar elm leaf would make for a good tattoo.

metaphysics of yucca plant

I’ve gotten stuck by the sharp tips of yucca leaves, but isn’t that pain strictly physical rather than metaphysical?

the funnel web theme park

Wow, I never knew that funnel web spiders have theme parks. I guess it gets boring to be a funnel web spider, what with molting and eating insects and all that kinda stuff, so they need theme parks for amusement.

(il mourut poursuivant une haute aventure; il eut pour le brûler des astres le plus beau)

I tried this search in Google on April 6, and the eighth hit was my post about two ants trapped in a drop of sunflower resin. In the post I quoted a French poem from 1573 about Icarus, who in Greek legend dared to fly too close to the sun wearing wings attached to his body with wax, which melted and caused his doom. The ants and the sunflower were a bonus for the searcher.

çınar yaprağı

This Turkish phrase means ‘sycamore leaf,’ so let’s give credit to the search engine not only for translating that into English but also finding my blog post.

yayla çiçekleri

And this Turkish phrase means ‘spring flowers.’ I can’t be sure which post the person got taken to, but that day there were three page views from Turkey and three viewings of a Texas mountain laurel post.

nanas ungu

This Indonesian phrase means ‘purple pineapple.’ The search engine popped up a post about eryngo. Did the searcher know enough English to read the text and understand that what looks like a purple pineapple is actually a small flower head that has nothing to do with pineapples? (Et pour vous qui parlez français, vous reconnaissez que le mot nanas correspond à ananas.) (And if you don’t speak French, I pointed out that the Indonesian word for ‘pineapple’ is very similar to the French word for ‘pineapple.’)

паслен цветы тычинки

This Russian phrase translates as “nightshade flower(s) stamens.” Strangely, although I do have posts showing that, none of them appeared in the list of pages viewed on the same day as the query. And here’s an interesting bit of language: the Russian noun цвето (tsveto) means ‘color,’ but the plural цветы (tsveti) means ‘flowers.’

wild flowers фото

Why would someone who knows enough to write wild flowers in English write photo in Russian?

can u eat a spider crab in darwin

Can u find a crab spider in Schwartzman? Yes—at least in his blog.

virginia state leaf

I’ve heard of an official state flower but never an official state leaf. Talk about micro-managing. But what can you expect from a state that used to make you get your car inspected twice a year?

sometimes still i cannot keep

Sometimes reply I cannot make.

austin daily flower false

I don’t know what kind of aspersions you’re casting there, bud, but all my Austin daily flowers are real.

squirrels coming house

My squirrels staying roof. No coming house. People coming house.

elm leaf meaning

I sometimes get philosophical, but wondering what an elm leaf means is too philosophical even for me.

vulture pronounce

Quoth the vulture: “Nevermore!”

redbud trees near mt. shasta

I guess the redbud trees in Austin are near the ones at Mt. Shasta if you’re looking from the moon.

winter flowers of india which are rarely found in india

What’d they do, move to Florida to get away from the cold? (I once mentioned that Austin has a lot of technology companies, so it’s not unusual to see people from India here.)

abstract liquid photography

There aren’t any examples of that on my blog, unless you count trees or plants reflected in the surface of a pond or creek.

image of plant having fully thorn

Imagine me as I read this having fully smile.

do chiggers like bluebonnets

I don’t know, but I’m sorry to say they sure like me.

white things that are in the sky that look like doves

We normally call those things clouds.

william faulkner and spanish moss

I provided the plant but you’ll have to provide your own Faulkner.

where did the photographer gary moss grow up?

This led to a post about Spanish moss growing on a tree. Whether it looks like Gary, I can’t say.

dry leafs places

Whenever we have a drought here, Texas becomes one of those dry leafs places. Then all the married men scrounge for water to save the lifes of their wifes.

prairie wildflowers art

Oh, once again the search engine thinks my pictures of prairie wildflowers are art: what a smart search engine!

what goes well with a flame leaf sumac

My camera.

my frostweed didn’t split in the frost

Oh, you poor baby, you must’ve been so disappointed. Mine did.

falling through thin ice

Come to think of it, that takes less energy and is therefore less painful than crashing through thick ice.

a climber who has purple coloured flowers

Don’t you love calling a plant a who? Or maybe we’re looking for a mountain climber who wears purple flowers while climbing.

purple flower looks like it comes out of round thing with long flowers

Thanks for being so explicit.

fasciation cannabis

I think think there are a lot more people fascinated by cannabis than by fasciation.

bluebonnets, daisys, dandylions(flowers)

Lions are fine and dandy with me, just as long as they stay far away from any bluebonnets and daisies I’m photographing.

world best flower in hq clearity

I make sure my pictures have lots of clearity. In fact my blog is the world headquarters of clearity.

photography passion

That’s me!

a close at a flowers

I hope that wasn’t from a native speaker of English.

small fuzzy green plant that curls at the end whats it called

You got me, pal.

texas firewheel flower poem

Hail to you, mighty firewheel!
Your saturated red and yellow,
More colorful than a wire wheel,
Make me want to shout and bellow.

big brown furry beatle

Would that be John, Paul, George, or Ringo?

how long usps for mail “from austin to austin”

In my experience, as long as a week, alas. What this has to do with wildflowers, though, I don’t know.

steve swartzmam photography
steven swartzmann nature blog

Frailty, thy name is misspelling.

eric schwartzman wildflower photographer austin

I’ve hosted trail walks with geologist Eric Potter. Looks like his head got put on my shoulders.

famous floral photographers

Yay! The search engine thinks I’m a famous floral photographer. Silly search engine.


Wow, out of the tens of thousands of blogs on WordPress, the search engine led someone to mine. Smart search engine.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 1, 2014 at 6:20 AM

Posted in nature photography

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