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Thousandths

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Cattail Seed Head Blowing 1996

A thousandth of a second is how I set my shutter speed to record this seed head of a cattail, Typha domingensis, blowing in the breeze at the Arbor Walk Pond on December 29, 2014.

According to an online article, a single cattail stalk can produce a quarter of a million seeds. Such a large number implies that the seeds are tiny, and they turn out to be only about 0.2 mm, or 8 thousandths of an inch, long (not counting the attached fluff, of course).

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 20, 2015 at 5:42 AM

Posted in nature photography

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You can count on Mexican hat

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Mexican Hat Flower Head 1634

The wildflower called Mexican hat, Ratibida columnifera, reaches its flowering peak with the formation of colonies in the late spring, but it’s common to see at least a few of these plants blooming here and there for the rest of the year. When I was at the Arbor Walk Pond on December 26, 2014, I noticed exactly one Mexican hat plant with several flower heads on it, but by then I’d run out of daylight and decided I’d go back soon if I could. The weather over the next couple of days was yucky, but on the morning of the 29th we had sunlight so I returned and took plenty of pictures, including the one shown here. The ray flowers on this Mexican hat, though a bit ragged around the edges, brought welcome bits of brightness to a landscape that has become mostly dun now that winter has arrived.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 6, 2015 at 5:37 AM

Illinois bundleflower

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Illinois Bundleflower Dry Bundle 6065

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When I was at the Arbor Walk Pond on December 4, 2013 (yes, that’s a year and a month and a day ago), I noticed the remains of various native plants. One was Illinois bundleflower, Desmanthus illinoensis, whose many small and scrunched-up pods form the bundles referred to in the common name. A post from the spring of 2012 showed some of these bundles when they were still green, but from farther away and playing a supporting role to the bluebell flowers that were then the attention-getters.

In today’s photograph, the seeds that had gotten caught on the dry pods were either from poverty weed or cattails, both of which were shedding plenty of fluff nearby.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 5, 2015 at 5:43 AM

Like teeny tiny cauliflowers

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Parthenium Flower Heads by Colorful Leaves 1649

If you’d like to get a sense of scale here, be aware that each of these “cauliflower” heads is only about 5 mm (3/16 of an inch) across. You’re looking at a species of Parthenium, probably hysterophorus, known as false ragweed. Bill Carr writes that it is “common in dry disturbed sites, particularly in urban areas where it is a conspicuous weed of sidewalk cracks and neglected lawns.” This native may be weedy, but I’d say that it’s still needy of a closer glance, so go ahead and take this chance.

You probably don’t know and couldn’t easily tell that false ragweed (like non-false ragweed) is in the same botanical family as sunflowers, but with or without that information you’re welcome to say welcome to another species making its debut here.

This photograph is from December 29, 2014, at the Arbor Walk Pond. The red in the background came from the small but colorful leaves of an unrelated plant.

UPDATE on January 15, 2015: I see that the botanical designation has changed to Parthenium confertum.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 4, 2015 at 5:18 AM

Another wildflower in winter

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Velvetleaf Mallow Flower 1198

From late in the afternoon on December 26th, 2014, at the Arbor Walk Pond, here is a flower of Allowissadula holosericea, known as velvetleaf mallow. The species name holosericea means ‘all silky,’ a characteristic you can confirm in the contour of soft hairs rendered conspicuous by the backlighting of the soon-to-set sun.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 3, 2015 at 5:11 AM

Sunflower remains

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Sunflower Seed Head Remains 5279

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The picture of Maximilian sunflowers in the last post was a look back at October, a time that’s always still warm (many of you would say hot) in central Texas. Even after sunflowers wither and fade, though, what’s left can be fascinating. Here you see the seed head remains of a “common” sunflower, Helianthus annuus, at the Arbor Walk Pond on December 4, 2013. It looks like there are still a few seeds in it.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 29, 2014 at 6:03 AM

Late poverty weed

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Poverty Weed Turned Fluffy 5154

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Akin to the real feathers that you saw last time at the Arbor Walk pond were the feathery tufts that lingered nearby on a poverty weed bush, Baccharis neglecta. By December 4th most members of this species in Austin had partly or completely faded already, but this one was still at its peak of plumy attractiveness.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 15, 2014 at 6:08 AM

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Feathers on paloverde

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Small White Feathers Caught on Paloverde 6029

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A different sort of “fur” that I noticed at the Arbor Walk Pond on December 4, 2013, was a small clump of feathers caught on a young paloverde tree, Parkinsonia aculeata. The feathers presumably came from one of the ducks or other waterfowl that frequent the pond. Read on for more.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 14, 2014 at 6:01 AM

Cattail like fur

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Cattail Seed Head Decomposing 6184

Have you ever noticed that the decomposing seed core of a cattail, Typha domingensis, looks like fur?

I photographed this one at the Arbor Walk Pond on December 4, 2013.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 13, 2014 at 6:09 AM

Silverleaf nightshade fruits

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Silverleaf Nightshade Fruits by Coral Honeysuckle 5758

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Near the coral honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens, that appeared in the last two photographs (and that softly lights up the background of this one), I found some fruits of silverleaf nightshade, Solanum elaeagnifolium, at the Arbor Walk Pond in north Austin on December 4, 2013.

In one sort of illusion, the bright fruits may appear to be partly in front of the darker picture plane. In a different kind of illusion, you may imagine that you’re looking at two planetary orbs.

In early December there were still lots of silverleaf nightshade flowers around Austin, but the first freeze soon put an end to all of them. In a third type of illusion, you might try to picture (if you don’t already know) what sort of flowers produce the fruits shown here; you can see how close you came by checking a photograph from 2011.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 12, 2014 at 6:03 AM

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