Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Tapestries of yellow

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In a comment this morning about the picture of a dense partridge pea colony, MelissaBlueFineArt spoke of “whole tapestries of yellow, shimmering from lemon yellow to old gold.” Normally the flowers of partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) are of a yellow that leans toward orange, but in the colony that I photographed on September 7th along Central Commerce Dr. in Pflugerville I was quickly drawn to a very few plants with flowers of an unusually pale yellow that I don’t recall ever seeing in this species anywhere else.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 18, 2016 at 8:43 AM

Central Commerce

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My only commerce on Central Commerce Dr. in Pflugerville on September 7th was with wildflowers. In particular, part of the yard of a seemingly closed business along that street had filled with a densely flowering colony of partridge peas, Chamaecrista fasciculata. Look at all that gorgeous yellow.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 18, 2016 at 5:00 AM

A less-common milkweed

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On September 7th, while walking across a field bordering Grand Avenue Parkway in Pflugerville on my way to photograph a few Maximilian sunflowers, one of which you saw last time, I spotted a milkweed that I come across only occasionally, Asclepias oenotheroides. It has appeared in these pages just once before, and I refer you to that earlier post for a closer look at a more advanced stage in the milkweed’s development and to find out more about one of its common names, hierba de zizotes.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 17, 2016 at 5:00 AM

Botanically speaking, fall is here.

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As you’ve been able to confirm from the recent pictures of snow-on-the-prairie and snow-on-the-mountain and goldenrod, central Texas has gone into full fall botanical mode, even if afternoon high temperatures are still around 93°F (34°C). Today and in the next bunch of posts you’ll get a look at some more of that autumnal activity.

One thing that native plant people look forward to in central Texas at this time of year is Maximilian sunflowers, Helianthus maximiliani. Not many have appeared so far this season, but on September 7th I photographed a few in a field along Grand Avenue Parkway in Pflugerville. Years ago I found hundreds of these sunflowers in that field but mowing has almost wiped them out there now.

Let me point out, as I’ve done in previous years, that the flower heads of Maximilian sunflowers tend to open asymmetrically. You can see that in the disk at the center of this flower head.

For an explanation (or reminder) of why today’s photograph shows dozens and dozens of flowers rather than just one, you can (re)visit a post from 2014.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 16, 2016 at 4:53 AM

From copper lily to copperleaf

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Acalypha Inflorescence 3997

On August 18 along Great Northern Blvd. I photographed this inflorescence of a little native plant in the genus Acalypha. I’m not sure of the species but some in this genus are known as copperleaf, so combine that with the subject of yesterday’s post and you’ve got today’s title.

You’re looking at the male flowers; the female flowers in this species are on a separate plant. The whole spike shown here, including the part with the leaves, might have been about 2 inches (5cm) long. That makes this one of those lie-on-the-ground-and-aim-slightly-upward sorts of pictures that are so much “fun” to take.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 15, 2016 at 4:52 AM

From white to yellow

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Copper Lily Flower Backlit 8064

Last time you saw the white of a rain lily. Now here’s the yellow-orange of a backlit copper lily, Habranthus tubispathus, that I found at Southeast Metropolitan Park on September 1. The backlighting silhouettes some of the flower’s inner parts.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 14, 2016 at 4:45 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Spider shadows

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Tiny Spider on Rain-Lily 4531

I don’t think I’ve ever recorded such a vivid and elongated spider shadow as I did on this rain-lily, Cooperia pedunculata, that I photographed on August 19 near the eastern end of Balcones Woods Dr. You may find me strangely unobservant, but I was so intent on getting the spider in focus that I don’t believe I noticed its shadow at the time.

If you’d like a closer look at the spider and its happily-discovered-later shadow, click the excerpt below.

Tiny Spider on Rain-Lily 4531 Detail

If you’re interested in the craft of photography, you’ll find that point 24 in About My Techniques applies to the larger image.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 13, 2016 at 4:59 AM

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