Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Austin

Another new species for me

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On the bank of Bull Creek in St. Edward’s Park on September 26th I came across a plant with small flower heads (maybe a third of an inch across) that I didn’t recognize. I could tell that it clearly belonged to the sunflower family, and that was all. Not knowing what it was didn’t keep me from taking some pictures, helped along by intermittent sunlight filtering through the treetops and reaching the plant.

After I got home I started going down the Asteraceae section of Bill Carr’s Travis County plant list, looking on the Internet for pictures of each species I wasn’t familiar with to see if I could make a match. Fortunately I didn’t have to go too far down the list, as the plant turned out to be Bidens frondosa. According to a Wikipedia article, “its many common names include devil’s beggarticks, devil’s-pitchfork, devil’s bootjack, sticktights, bur marigold, pitchfork weed, tickseed sunflower, leafy beggarticks, and common beggar-ticks.” Those names allude to the plant’s fruit, which I haven’t yet seen. The USDA map shows this species growing in the 48 contiguous American states except Montana.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 10, 2019 at 4:38 AM

Native lettuce

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I’m always happy when I can show off a native species that I’ve finally found after reading about it for a long time. So it is with Lactuca ludoviciana, which apparently goes by the names western wild lettuce, Louisiana wild lettuce, prairie lettuce, prairie wild lettuce, and biannual (or biennial) lettuce. This view, which comes from September 7th adjacent to Bull Creek, looks downward; the brown is from dried tree leaves on the ground. Prairie lettuce is scattered across much of the central and western United States and Canada. The species is in the same Cichorieae tribe of the sunflower family as the skeleton plant you saw here in July.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 7, 2019 at 4:36 AM

More cardinal flowers

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Ms. Liz, MelissaBlue and Michael Scandling were up for seeing more cardinal flowers, so here are two group portraits of Lobelia cardinalis that I made along the upper reaches of Bull Creek on September 26th. Notice how the quality of the red ends up different depending on where the sun is coming from, what’s in the background, and how the camera’s sensor and computer render those things. Then, of course, the processing software adds its interpretation, as does the processor, a.k.a. me.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 2, 2019 at 4:30 PM

A good time for cardinal flowers

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Above is a rather trippy picture—thanks to all those orbs in the background—of a happy cardinal flower plant (Lobelia cardinalis) along Bull Creek on September 7th. Below you get a closer look at a budding plant there.

Now it’s three weeks later and the cardinal flowers along Bull Creek continue to have a good time, with new plants still flowering. If any of you folks are dying to see more pictures of cardinal flowers, let me know and I’ll yield to unremitting reader pressure.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 30, 2019 at 4:41 AM

Devil’s claw bud and flower

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Here’s Proboscidea louisianica, called devil’s claw, not long for this world
at a construction site along Duval Rd. in northwest Austin on September 8.

The glandular hairs confirm that this flower is a gooey one,
and that accounts for the many clinging bits of grit you see.
Backlighting accounts for the translucence in the second picture.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 28, 2019 at 4:45 AM

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Hibiscus laevis

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From today’s date in 2018 at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center comes this opening bud of Hibiscus laevis, known as smooth rose mallow or halberd-leaved rose mallow. If you’re curious about the flower this kind of bud will open up into, you can check out a post from 2013.

The species name laevis is the Latin word for ‘light in weight.” It reminds me now of the first line in the opening stanza of poet Augusto Gil‘s “Balada da neve,” Ballad of the Snow,” which our teacher introduced us to in my first Portuguese class way back in 1965:

“Batem leve, levemente,
como quem chama por mim.
Será chuva? Será gente?
Gente não é, certamente
e a chuva não bate assim.”

“There’s a light, light tapping,
As if someone were calling for me.
Could it be the rain? Could it be people?
People it certainly isn’t,
And the rain doesn’t sound like that.”

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 26, 2019 at 4:41 AM

Beards and webs

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The vine that botanists know as Clematis drummondii has earned the colloquial name old man’s beard because its fertilized flowers give rise to filaments that turn into an increasingly dingy fluff as they mature. (Notwithstanding the beard metaphor, those are of course female flowers.) Below from Great Hills Park on August 29th is a nice expanse of “beards,” along with seed heads of Mexican hats, Ratibida columnifera.

In contrast, a nearby Clematis drummondii plant (presumably male) was cobwebbed rather than bearded.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 23, 2019 at 3:53 AM

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