Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Austin

Frostweed ice and frostweed frost

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The overnight temperature dropped enough from November 30th into December 1st for frostweed (Verbesina virginica) to do its magic ice trick, as I found when I spent a couple of hours that morning taking pictures in the shade in Great Hills Park (the sun hadn’t risen above the trees yet). I made photographs with and without flash; the latter came out softer and bluer, as you see above. If you’re new to the frostweed ice phenomenon, you may want to read an excellent article about it by Bob Harms.

Many frostweed leaves had actual frost on them, as shown in the second picture.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 2, 2020 at 4:33 AM

An octagon in the eleventh month that proclaims itself the ninth

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Hot on the heels of the out-of-season Indian paintbrush you saw last time, here’s another prodigy. It’s the Engelmann daisy, Engelmannia peristenia, a spring wildflower that normally has done its thing no later than July, but that I photographed in northeast Austin on November 13th. Engelmann daisies typically have eight ray flowers, as in this picture, and there’s a tendency for them to curl under, as you also see here.

If you’re wondering why September, October, November, and December, whose names indicate that they’re the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth month, are actually the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth month, it’s because the Roman calendar originally began in March. January and February got added later, bumping the already-named months two places further down the line. And here’s another related tidbit: before July and August got appropriated for Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar, those months had been called Quintilis and Sextilis, whose names proclaimed them the fifth and sixth month in the original calendar.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 1, 2020 at 4:35 AM

Cedar elms turning yellow

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A reliable source of autumnal yellow in Austin is the cedar elm tree, Ulmus crassifolia. In the picture above, taken around 4 in the afternoon on November 9th at the Arboretum shopping center, you see some cedar elms whose leaves picked up extra color saturation from the strong backlighting the late-afternoon sun provided. The previous day in Austin’s Jester neighborhood I’d photographed another yellow cedar elm:

I’d also recorded the way a cedar elm’s yellow contrasted with the red
of the flameleaf sumacs (Rhus lanceolata) surrounding it:

As no one has offered a solution to yesterday’s poser, I’ll let it ride at least one more day. The question is what all the following English words have in common beyond the fact that in each of them a vowel letter and a consonant letter alternate.

HIS, SORE, AMEN, PAN, AWE, EMIT, SON, TOWER, HAS, LAX, TOMATO, FAT, SOME, DONOR.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 28, 2020 at 4:36 AM

Closer looks at flameleaf sumac’s colorful fall foliage

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⇧ Arterial 8, November 8

⇧ Seton Center Drive, November 15

⇧ Cedar Park, November 18

Rhus lanceolata is the most colorful of the three native sumacs in the Austin area.
Backlighting enhanced those colors in all three pictures.

In the relevant quotation department we have this interchange from Albert Camus’s 1944 play Le malentendu, The Misunderstanding:

Martha: Qu’est-ce que l’automne?
Jan: Un deuxième printemps, où toutes les feuilles sont comme des fleurs.

Martha: “What is autumn?”
Jan: A second spring, when all the leaves are like flowers.

Versions floating around on the Internet glom the question and answer together into a single declarative sentence. Here you get no glomming, only the original.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 24, 2020 at 4:26 AM

Peppervine turning colors

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As another example of fall foliage in Austin, above is a view from the afternoon of November 10th showing a peppervine (Nekemias arborea) turning colors on a black willow tree (Salix nigra) that it had climbed at the Riata Trace Pond. The next morning I went back and took pictures by different light of another peppervine that had turned even more colorful, as shown below. About halfway up the left edge of the second picture you may notice some of the vine’s little fruits that had darkened as they ripened. Peppervine, which some people mistake for poison ivy, grows in the southeastern United States. If you’d like a closer look at the vine’s leaves, you can check out a post from the first months of this blog.

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as publick Liberty, without Freedom of Speech; which is the Right of every Man, as far as by it, he does not hurt or controul the Right of another: and this is the only Check it ought to suffer, and the only Bounds it ought to know. / This sacred Privilege is so essential to free Governments, that the Security of Property, and the Freedom of Speech always go together; and in those wretched Countries where a man cannot call his Tongue his own, he can scarce call any Thing else his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” — Benjamin Franklin (synthesizing other people’s thoughts), 1722.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 22, 2020 at 4:38 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Bluebonnet in the fall

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The warm autumn in Austin this year has led to various “spring” wildflowers blooming out of season. So it was for this bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on October 23rd, which had risen from its basal rosette and was already forming an inflorescence. The behaving-as-expected, which is to say seasonal, flowers in the background were purple fall asters (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium). Oh well, now I guess I’ll have to break down and show you a picture of them in their own right, too.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 21, 2020 at 4:21 AM

Red and yellow for this fellow

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At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on October 23rd, how could I not be drawn to clusters of red possumhaw fruits (Ilex decidua) in front of some Maximilian sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani)? If you’re in a gloomy place, I hope this combination brightens up your day.

And here’s a relevant quotation for today: “Almost every person, from childhood, has been touched by the untamed beauty of wildflowers.” — Lady Bird Johnson.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 19, 2020 at 4:34 AM

Gayfeather fresh, gayfeather gone to seed

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On October 23rd we visited the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for the first time in 2020. While some gayfeather (Liatris punctata var. mucronata) was still flowering, as shown above, most had already gone to seed. The yellow flowers mixed in were partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata).

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “Innovation is the child of freedom and the parent of prosperity.” — Matt Ridley in How Innovation Works, 2020.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 18, 2020 at 4:36 AM

Slenderpod sesbania

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I made this more-is-more portrait of drying-out Sesbania herbacea plants in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183 on November 1st. Because this species grows in many places, it has accumulated a bunch of common names: slenderpod sesbania, hemp sesbania, coffee-bean, danglepod, coffeeweed, Colorado River-hemp, and peatree sesbania. The photograph confirms that the first of those names is accurate; the pods really are slender, measuring 10–20 cm in length but only 3–4 mm in width.

One of the plants was conspicuously fasciated, as you see in the second picture.
You might also say it was having a bad-hair day.

And here’s an unrelated thought for today (with the original spelling and capitalization): “we have spent the prime of our lives in procuring them the precious blessing of liberty. let them spend theirs in shewing that it is the great parent of science & of virtue; and that a nation will be great in both always in proportion as it is free.” — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Willard, 1789.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 16, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Time for some fall foliage

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Central Texas doesn’t put on the grand autumn displays that colder climates claim as a point of pride, and yet you’ll find us faithful to fall foliage in our fashion. It’s time for some winsome pictures of autumn color to begin wending your way. As a first, take a look at this prairie flameleaf sumac (Rhus lanceolata) that we found along a street called Arterial 8 at the far end of the Jester Estates neighborhood in west Austin on November 8th. Notice the reddish-black clusters of tiny fruits in the right half of the image.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 15, 2020 at 4:34 AM

Posted in nature photography

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