Portraits of Wildflowers

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Not many people at Niagara Falls

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Okay, so this post’s title is misleading; in fact hordes of tourists were at Niagara Falls when we visited on July 25th. Nevertheless, not many people at Niagara Falls photograph the plants there, but you could count on me to get a few botanical pictures. The first one shows swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium). In the second photo you’re seeing fruit clusters on a staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina).

Thanks to horticulturalists at the New York State Parks Department for identifying the species of the milkweed and the sumac. I didn’t ask them to try to figure out the identity of the tree whose remains you see standing below; perhaps it was another sumac.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 12, 2019 at 4:36 AM

Another new species for me

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On the bank of Bull Creek in St. Edward’s Park on September 26th I came across a plant with small flower heads (maybe a third of an inch across) that I didn’t recognize. I could tell that it clearly belonged to the sunflower family, and that was all. Not knowing what it was didn’t keep me from taking some pictures, helped along by intermittent sunlight filtering through the treetops and reaching the plant.

After I got home I started going down the Asteraceae section of Bill Carr’s Travis County plant list, looking on the Internet for pictures of each species I wasn’t familiar with to see if I could make a match. Fortunately I didn’t have to go too far down the list, as the plant turned out to be Bidens frondosa. According to a Wikipedia article, “its many common names include devil’s beggarticks, devil’s-pitchfork, devil’s bootjack, sticktights, bur marigold, pitchfork weed, tickseed sunflower, leafy beggarticks, and common beggar-ticks.” Those names allude to the plant’s fruit, which I haven’t yet seen. The USDA map shows this species growing in the 48 contiguous American states except Montana.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 10, 2019 at 4:38 AM

Two gulls at Niagara Falls on July 25th

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I took the first picture from the Canadian side in the morning and the second from the American side near sundown, each time with the lens zoomed to its maximum focal length of 400mm. Both birds spoke to me. Take that figuratively and you’re all right; believe it literally and you’re gullible.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 8, 2019 at 4:44 PM

Native lettuce

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I’m always happy when I can show off a native species that I’ve finally found after reading about it for a long time. So it is with Lactuca ludoviciana, which apparently goes by the names western wild lettuce, Louisiana wild lettuce, prairie lettuce, prairie wild lettuce, and biannual (or biennial) lettuce. This view, which comes from September 7th adjacent to Bull Creek, looks downward; the brown is from dried tree leaves on the ground. Prairie lettuce is scattered across much of the central and western United States and Canada. The species is in the same Cichorieae tribe of the sunflower family as the skeleton plant you saw here in July.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 7, 2019 at 4:36 AM

American Falls in warm light

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Whether you call it late afternoon or early evening, the warm light near 7PM on July 25th enhanced Niagara’s American Falls. The dark area across the upper right is the embankment on the Canadian side of the Niagara River that we’d visited earlier in the day. I’ve added another view as a reminder of the way different vantage points and compositions change the feel of a scene. The black specks in the second image are distant birds.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 5, 2019 at 4:28 PM

Grindelia papposa

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On this date in 2006 I spent some time on the flower mound in Flower Mound, near Dallas. One species I photographed there was Grindelia papposa, apparently known in various places as Spanish gold, saw-leaf daisy, wax goldenweed, and clasping-leaved Haplopappus; to me it was another species of gumweed. If your eyes zoomed in on the upper flower heads, you’ll have noticed the curled ribbons effect (not to be confused with the Ken Burns effect) that I saw again on the flower mound 13 years later in a different member of the sunflower family.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 4, 2019 at 4:39 AM

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More cardinal flowers

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Ms. Liz, MelissaBlue and Michael Scandling were up for seeing more cardinal flowers, so here are two group portraits of Lobelia cardinalis that I made along the upper reaches of Bull Creek on September 26th. Notice how the quality of the red ends up different depending on where the sun is coming from, what’s in the background, and how the camera’s sensor and computer render those things. Then, of course, the processing software adds its interpretation, as does the processor, a.k.a. me.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 2, 2019 at 4:30 PM

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