Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Cardinal flower

with 23 comments

Cardinal Flower Flowers Close 6634

In a comment a couple of days ago, Lavinia Ross noted that the rich red standing cypress flowers in that morning’s post reminded her of those of the cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis. In my reply I mentioned that that species has a large range, in fact one that includes climates both cold and hot, and that we have cardinal flowers in Austin, too, just as the Northeast of the United States does. I was going to point to a previous post for a comparison between the two red flowers, but I discovered that after four years I’d still never shown a picture of a cardinal flower. Today’s post fills the lacuna, and that’s an appropriate word, because the cardinal flower thrives close to, at the edge of, or even in a body of water (if it’s not too deep).

I took this moody and rather abstract picture on the bank of a creek in my hilly northwestern part of Austin on October 13, 2014.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 29, 2015 at 5:16 AM

Antelope horns milkweed fluff and a cast-off spider exoskeleton

with 21 comments

Antelope Horns Milkweed Fluff with Molted Spider Exoskeleton 3491

Near the end of our nature walk at David and Jolyn’s place in Dripping Springs on May 30th, I knelt to photograph the first split-open pod I’d seen this year of an antelope horns milkweed, Asclepias asperula, and in the fluff I noticed a spider’s cast-off exoskeleton. Color aside, it does look something like one of the milkweed’s silk-bearing seeds, don’t you think?

To see the many places in the southwestern United States where this species of milkweed grows, you can check out the USDA map.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 28, 2015 at 4:48 AM

Standing cypress red and green

with 45 comments

Standing Cypress Flowering 3370

On May 30th we visited our friends David and Jolyn in Dripping Springs, which lies about an hour west of our home in Austin. On their property I photographed this handsome stand of Ipomopsis rubra, known as standing cypress and Texas plume.

This is the most vividly verdant view of any I’ve shown of standing cypress (all of which you’re welcome to scroll back down through).

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 27, 2015 at 5:27 AM

Basket-flower by other wildflowers

with 20 comments

Basket-Flower Flower Head from Side 3577

A month ago a flourishing colony of basket-flowers, Centaurea americana, appeared here, and yesterday a portion of a basket-flower served as a soft and pastel pedestal for a red admiral butterfly, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t show you a closer look at one of these flower heads in its own right. Today’s view is from Tejas Camp in Williamson County on June 1.

Most species in the Asteraceae, known as the sunflower family or daisy family or composite family, produce heads with two different-looking sets of small flowers: in the center are densely packed disk flowers, and radiating (i.e. ray-diating) out around them are ray flowers; think of your typical daisy and you’ll get the picture. Some species in this family, however, produce only one of the two kinds of flowers. That’s the case with the basket-flower, and even though you might think that it has white disk flowers surrounded by lavender ray flowers, all of them are disk flowers, despite the color difference. Not all that glitters is gold.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 26, 2015 at 4:59 AM

Red admiral butterfly on basket-flower

with 42 comments

Red Admiral Butterfly on Basket-Flower 3998

Here’s a ventral view of a red admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) on a basket-flower (Centaurea americana) in Leander on the first day of June.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 25, 2015 at 5:32 AM

Rose pavonia

with 22 comments

Pavonia Mallow Flower 8158

A couple of days ago Steve Gingold showed a picture of a rose pogonia. By coincidence, when I was in Great Hills Park yesterday I photographed a rose pavonia, so I thought I should present a photograph of it here as a follow-up to the flower with such a similar-sounding name. (This plant is also called pavonia mallow and rose mallow, and its scientific name is Pavonia lasiopetala.)

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that points 1, 2, 5 and 20 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 24, 2015 at 5:20 AM

A snapshot

with 39 comments

Common Snapping Turtle 0550

Let’s go back to earlier days in the rainy spring of 2015, for which drought-afflicted Texas is mostly glad (the flooding in various places being exceptions to the gladness). I went out on the morning of May 6th to see how rapidly Bull Creek was flowing and to experiment with pictures of churning water. At one point I walked down a small trail and was startled to confront a turtle at least a foot (30 cm) long. It remained largely unperturbed as I made portrait after portrait of it, and often from closer quarters than you see here, but that may have been a bit foolhardy because Tim Cole later identified this for me as a common snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina. Fortunately I was the only one of the two who did any snapping.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 23, 2015 at 5:20 AM


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,395 other followers

%d bloggers like this: