Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for the ‘flowers’ Category

Prairie fleabane

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Here’s a little wildflower you’ve never before seen in these pages: it’s Erigeron modestus, called prairie fleabane or plains fleabane. This one was part of a group growing on the property of native plant aficionados Dale and Pat Bulla in northwest Austin on March 5.

Although the photographs in this blog often show subjects in sharp detail, here I took a different approach and focused on the front-most ray flowers, knowing that the rays farther back and all of the yellow disk flowers would come out with less detail or hardly any at all: let’s hear it for impressionism. Those among you who are further interested in photography as a craft can verify that points 1, 2, 5, 12 and 20 in About My Techniques apply to today’s image.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 15, 2012 at 5:46 AM

Crow poison by prickly pear

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It’s not clear why Nothoscordum bivalve is commonly called crow poison, but if you happen to be a crow you’d probably best steer clear of this diminutive but common wildflower. It’s a member of the same botanical family as garlic and onions but lacks their pungent odor, so people also call it false garlic. As you can see, this one had sprung up adjacent to a prickly pear that was one of three types of cactus I found growing together on March 2. It reminds us of Dolly Parton’s adage that “wildflowers don’t care where they grow,” even if you or I would be pointedly unhappy in that spot.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 14, 2012 at 5:45 AM

Coral honeysuckle

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This one speaks English, not Japanese. Yes, the common white-flowered and sweet-scented honeysuckle that grows all over the United States and Canada is originally from Japan, but Lonicera sempervirens, called coral honeysuckle, grows from Texas to Quebec, as you can confirm at the USDA website. (I assume it also speaks French in Quebec.)

Coral honeysuckle is clearly red, and a comparison to the blossoms of the redbud tree in the background proves—as if any proof were needed—that the flowers of the redbud tree are a pinkish-violet. This photograph comes from the same March 2 session along Great Northern Blvd. in north-central Austin that has already brought you a picture in which a blossoming redbud tree played the starring role. This time, in order to have the non-red redbud appear as a backdrop to the red honeysuckle, I had to thread my way through some greenbriers and some stalks of poison ivy that were just beginning to leaf out, then get down low and aim upward at perhaps 60°. Intrepid me.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 13, 2012 at 5:38 AM

Worray

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Not to worry, the title isn’t a typo for worry but a backwards spelling of yarrow. That’s my way of saying that this photograph goes backwards in time, from the flowers of Achillea millefolium, which you saw in the last post, to the fuzzy buds of a preceding stage. I took this picture on February 23 in Great Hills Park, half a mile downhill from where I live.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 10, 2012 at 5:24 AM

Yarrow

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In the 13 years that I’ve been photographing native plants I’ve generally avoided yarrow, Achillea millefolium, because there’s uncertainty about the extent to which it’s native in North America. Shinners and Mahler’s Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas says this: “Cronquist (1980) indicated that it is a highly variable polyploid complex with both native and introduced forms not yet satisfactorily sorted into infraspecific taxa.”

So this year I won’t be such a straight arrow
But will live a little and photograph yarrow.

Today’s picture comes from the March 2 session in north-central Austin that has already brought you a photograph of a blossoming redbud tree.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 9, 2012 at 5:38 AM

Four-nerve daisy’s folding and fading phase

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Over the past few months these pages have brought you several views of the four-nerve daisy, which exists in central Texas as two similar species of Tetraneuris. Both of them do the same characteristic thing: as their flower heads go to seed and begin to dry out, the central disk bulges upward into a hemisphere. At the same time, the surrounding rays turn downward and typically fold in against the flower head; there they usually stay, gradually losing much of their yellow and ending up looking white and papery. Today’s photograph from February 23 shows you those features in Tetraneuris linearifolia.

I made this portrait on a cloudy morning; I faced in the direction of the sun, so in order to keep the flower from looking black against the brighter sky behind it I used my ring flash. Because of the resulting brightness of the four-nerve daisy, roles were reversed and the sky ended up looking darker than it really was. The clouds still reveal themselves as the conspicuous gray across the bottom of the picture and as some darker gray that’s less noticeable in the upper part of the frame.

For more information, and to see a state-clickable map of the places in the south-central United States where Tetraneuris linearifolia grows, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 8, 2012 at 5:48 AM

Redbud tree blossoming

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Here’s another case of a wrong color name: the flowers of the redbud, Cercis canadensis, are at best pink. Be that as it may, these trees have been blossoming around Austin for the past couple of weeks. In this accelerated spring, although the redbud flowers have hardly been out long enough for us to admire them, new leaves are already beginning to make their appearance on the trees; you can see a few of them at the upper right of this picture, which I took along Great Northern Blvd. in north-central Austin on March 2.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 4, 2012 at 5:37 AM

Spiderwort flower center

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Okay, let’s make a clean sweep of it: here’s a picture showing the center of a fully open spiderwort flower I found outside the Austin Nature Center on February 22. Notice the masculine vanity in this member of the genus Tradescantia: six feathery purple stamens, each capped with a bright yellow anther. It isn’t only in the world of birds that the males show off.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 3, 2012 at 5:42 AM

Spiderwort buds opening

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When I was photographing outside the Austin Nature Center on February 22, I found not only many about-to-open spiderwort buds (genus Tradescantia), but also some that were already opening to reveal their purple flowers.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 2, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Spiderwort buds

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Another native plant I found outside the Austin Nature Center on February 22 was this spiderwort (genus Tradescantia). You’re looking at a cupful of its buds as they’re about to open.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 2, 2012 at 5:45 AM

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