Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Euphoria on a Texas thistle

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In a comment yesterday on the recent post showing plants flowering on the Blackland Prairie, Lisa asked whether I had a closeup of a Texas thistle. I answered that I might show a current picture of one in the days ahead. Now let me be more decisive, take the thistle by the thorns*, and post a photograph I took on May 6th of a Cirsium texanum in Cedar Park. Burrowing euphorically into the flower head was a Euphoria kernii beetle.

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* Technically speaking, a thistle has spines or prickles rather than thorns, but you wouldn’t want me to pass up a good alliterative alternative to “take the bull by the horns,” would you?

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 11, 2017 at 4:46 AM

Prairie parsley on the Blackland Prairie

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A couple of posts back you saw an Eastern black swallowtail caterpillar that I found on a prairie parsley plant (Polytaenia nuttallii) when I visited the Blackland Prairie west of Heatherwilde Blvd. in Pflugerville on April 30th. After I went back the next day and explored a different part of the parcel, I came across a great stand of prairie parsley flowering away, as shown above. How’s that for density? The mostly red flowers mixed in, by the way, are Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheels and Indian blankets.

The closer and more downward-looking view below reveals that some of the prairie parsley plants had begun going to seed. The purple flower heads are Texas thistles (Cirsium texanum).

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 10, 2017 at 4:22 AM

New Zealand: Milford Sound

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On February 22nd we made like tourists and took a two-hour boat cruise of Milford Sound on the southwestern coast of New Zealand’s South Island. As you can see, Milford Sound is a fiord. Given the heavy annual rainfall in this area, more than a dozen waterfalls cascade into the fiord. Notice one near the left edge of the first photograph and the right edge of the second. Notice also how the clouds descend below the peaks of the mountains that line the fiord. The distant white in the second photograph is residual snow or ice from the previous winter.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 9, 2017 at 5:01 AM

Black swallowtail caterpillar

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When I wandered out onto a piece of the Blackland Prairie on the west side of Heatherwilde Blvd. in Pflugerville on April 30th, I noticed that one of the prairie parsley plants (Polytaenia nuttallii) was host to the caterpillar of an Eastern black swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes). You can learn more about this species in a Wikipedia article.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 8, 2017 at 5:01 AM

New Zealand: Water colors at Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley

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On our 2015 New Zealand trip we’d visited two geothermal attractions in the Rotorua area but had run out of time for more. On March 5th of this year we spent a few hours at a third one, the Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley. How about the vivid color of the water at Inferno Crater Lake? And look at the very different color of another lake there:

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 7, 2017 at 5:01 AM

Texas bindweed flower and tendril

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From April 13th in Great Hills Park, the picture above gives you a downward look at a Texas bindweed flower, Convolvulus equitans. Plants in the genus Convolvulus do indeed convolve, as confirmed by the photograph below, which shows a questing Texas bindweed tendril wrapping itself around some prairie verbena flowers, Glandularia bipinnatifida.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 6, 2017 at 4:50 AM

New Zealand: Riccarton Bush

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Right in Christchurch is a little piece of New Zealand that largely preserves the way things were before the Europeans arrived. You can read about it in an article on the website of the Christchurch City Libraries.

When we visited on March 1st, a bit of bright orange on the forest floor contrasted with the general dimness inside the dense native bush and couldn’t help but get my attention.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 5, 2017 at 4:57 AM

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