Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Engelmann daisies

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I know the Engelmann daisy, Engelmannia peristenia, only from central Texas, yet the USDA map shows a distribution up through the Great Plains into South Dakota. Botanists refer to the genus Engelmannia as monotypic, meaning that it contains just one species. Call that species an only child and no one will fault you for the analogy.

The picture above shows the bud of an Engelmann daisy opening in front of an Indian paintbrush, Castilleja indivisa. The photograph below lets you see what the open and opening flower heads of an Engelmann daisy look like. Both pictures are from Blackland Prairie remnants in Round Rock on April 8th.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 7, 2018 at 4:59 AM

Antelope-horns milkweed buds and flowers

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You’ve already seen how on April 5th the median in Morado Circle played host to rain-lilies and anemones, wild garlic and four-nerve daisies, and a white bluebonnet. Also growing there was Asclepias asperula, the most common milkweed species in central Texas. This picture is the latest reminder that milkweeds do things in fives.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 5, 2018 at 4:59 AM

Owl feather

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As I began heading back from the farthest point on my April 17th outing under the power lines west of Morado Circle, I noticed a feather on the ground. Picking it up, I held it in front of me and took pictures of it in several positions. Chuck Sexton, a local expert on birds, says the feather is likely from the right wing of a great horned owl, Bubo virginianus. That’s the same species you caught a glimpse of, and only a glimpse of, in a recent post. Here’s a closer look at one part of the feather:

This feather proved to be the first of maybe half a dozen I found scattered at intervals along the trail. Seems likely the owl met its demise near by.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 3, 2018 at 5:00 AM

Mayday

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Today’s date reminds us that Mayday is a call of distress and a plea for help. Some help is what these conjoined flower heads of greenthread (Thelesperma filifolium) could have used in warding off attacks from at least two kinds of insects: in the first picture I see several thrips and one tumbling flower beetle.

The view from the other side shows you how the two flower heads were conjoined. As far as I can remember, this was the first such greenthread I’d ever seen. From time to time I’ve shown instances of fasciation but it’s not clear if this twin flower head counts as that.

The date was April 16th and the location was the Blackland Prairie just east of Louis Henna Blvd. and Donnell Dr. in Round Rock.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 1, 2018 at 4:44 AM

More pink (and white) evening primroses

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A recent post showed you two less-than-pristine pink evening primrose flowers, Oenothera speciosa, and then compensated with one fresh specimen. Now here are two flourishing groups from April 10th along TX 20 east of Red Rock in Bastrop County. The colony above was mixed with some Indian paintbrushes, Castilleja indivisa. In the group below, the majority of the pink evening primrose flowers were natural white variants.

Two days earlier, at the site in Round Rock documented in the other post, I’d already found a few isolated white pink evening primroses, including the one below that I photographed with the sun beyond it to create shadows of the flower’s interior parts.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 30, 2018 at 4:36 AM

A lily and a lady

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On April 17th I spent a while in the right-of-way beneath the power lines west of Morado Circle. There I photographed some of my springtime floral friends, including Schoenocaulon texanum, known as Texas sabadilla, Texas feathershank, and green lily (which is the name I know from Marshall Enquist’s book). The lily in green lily reflects the fact that botanists used to place this plant in the lily family, Liliaceae. Most botanists apparently now put the genus Schoenocaulon in the bunchflower family, Melanthiaceae.

On one of the green lily flower stalks that I noticed during my outing was a painted lady, Vanessa cardui, a species of butterfly about which I recently learned two things. The first, long known, is that it has a wide distribution around the world, including all continents except South America and Antarctica. The other thing, only recently discovered, is that the painted ladies in the UK fly all the way to Africa each autumn. According to the linked article, radar has revealed that “the butterflies are flying at altitudes up to 3,000 feet, which is why they were never spotted by humans, at speeds up to 30mph.”

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 29, 2018 at 4:40 AM

Two closer looks at Texas dandelions

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The previous post showed you a happy colony of Texas dandelions, Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus. Above is a closer look at a single flower head of one that I found growing by a colony of bluebonnets along Sam Bass Rd. in Round Rock on April 8th. Below from the same location is a Texas dandelion that had already gone to seed and formed the familiar puffball.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 27, 2018 at 4:55 AM

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