Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Displaced prickly pear

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Prickly Pear Cactus Stranded in Tree 3791

When I visited McKinney Falls State Park in southeast Austin on March 13th, Onion Creek, which passes through the park, was tame, but the adjacent vegetation gave a different message, one of the creek having recently flowed through more rapidly, and tangles of debris in various trees bespoke a much higher level of water. Whether this ailing prickly pear cactus, Opuntia engelmannii, was already growing in the tree before the deluge—yes, such things are possible—or whether the flood uprooted it from elsewhere and deposited it in these bare branches, I can’t say.


I’m out of town for a few days. Feel free to leave comments, but it may take me a while to answer them.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 13, 2014 at 6:03 AM

The real and the non-real

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Wildflowers Surrounding Fake Flowers on Tombstone 7803

No, this isn’t my tombstone (have you ever seen a copyright notice on one?). If it were, though, I hope people would know I’d want only real wildflowers and not artificial ones. The actual flowers here are dominated by Indian paintbrushes, Castilleja indivisa. I don’t know what the fake flowers are supposed to be.

As with the picture from two posts back, this one comes from the grounds of the Christ Lutheran Church of Elm Creek on April 4th.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 12, 2014 at 5:57 AM

Red admiral butterfly on plum blossoms

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Red Admiral Butterfly on Plum Blossoms 3598

Click for greater clarity and size.

The first thing I checked out when I went to McKinney Falls State Park on March 13th was some Mexican plum trees, Prunus mexicana, that I remembered from last spring. I wasn’t disappointed: so many insects of various kinds were visiting the dense blossoms, especially bees, that the tree hummed. One of those insects was a red admiral butterflyVanessa atalanta.

You may say that I’m putting the metaphorical cart before the horse, but when I looked at the extended and slightly curved wings of this butterfly I couldn’t help thinking of a large jet plane gliding in for a landing. Would that all planes were as colorful.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 11, 2014 at 6:04 AM

Nueces coreopsis and other dense wildflowers

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Nueces Coreopsis and Other Wildflowers 7789

The Nueces coreopsis, Coreopsis nuecensis, doesn’t grow in Austin, but I began to see some about an hour and a quarter south of here on my April 4th foray. The magenta flowers are phlox; the red ones are Indian paintbrushes, Castilleja indivisa; and there are some bluebonnets, Lupinus texensis, mixed in. If you’d like a closer look at a Nueces coreopsis, which is the wildflower in this group that you’re least likely to be familiar with, you can check out a post from 2012.

The location of today’s picture was the grounds of the Christ Lutheran Church of Elm Creek, a property that hosted the largest display of wildflowers I saw anywhere on my trip.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 10, 2014 at 5:58 AM

Black-eyed susan seed head remains

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Black-Eyed Susan Seed Head Remains by Tasajillo 3859

Here a Cylindropuntia leptocaulis, known as tasajillo and Christmas cactus, served merely as a colorful background for the seed head remains of what I believe had been (and technically still was) a black-eyed susan, Rudbeckia hirta. How long was this dry seed head? I’d say about 2/3 of an inch (17 mm). How long was this seed head dry? I’d say since last summer.

Like some other recently shown photographs, today’s is from a March 13th visit to McKinney Falls State Park in southeast Austin.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 9, 2014 at 5:53 AM

Another great field of wildflowers

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Engelmann Daisy Blowing in an Indian Paintbrush Colony 7602

Here’s another great field of wildflowers from my April 4th outing. The dominant red flowers are Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa), mixed into which are a few bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis). The taller plant with yellow flowers is an Engelmann daisy (Engelmannia peristenia). What caused it to lean so far to the left was the brisk wind that blew unremittingly and made photographing the flowers hard enough for me that I attempted only a couple of closeups the whole day.

Location: Old School Rd. in New Berlin, a town whose name, like the names of many roads in that part of Texas, tells you that quite a few Germans settled in the area in the 1800s. To learn more about that immigration and the so-called German Belt across a swathe of the state, you can read an article in The Handbook of Texas.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 8, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Syrphid fly on buttercup

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Tiny Syrphid Fly on Buttercup 3680

In several places at McKinney Falls State Park on March 13th I found flowering buttercups, Ranunculus spp., and on this one a syrphid fly only about a quarter of an inch (6mm) long. That’s one tiny fly.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 7, 2014 at 5:58 AM


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