Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘autumn

Red does its thing

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Around 3:15 yesterday afternoon I lay on my back at the edge of a parking lot behind an office building along the Capital of Texas Highway. I did that so I could aim upward to record the view against a bright blue sky of an oak tree whose leaves had turned red. Because the leaves were richly red, the tree might well have been Quercus buckleyi, known understandably as the Texas red oak.

As recent posts have shown, we’ve still been getting various fall colors down here, even as the temperature when I took yesterday’s picture had climbed to 78°F (26°C).

Have you heard about the enormous catalogue of the world’s plants compiled in Leipzig, Germany?

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 11, 2020 at 4:34 AM

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Green and orange in the fall

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The leaves of the black willow (Salix nigra) tend to turn yellow in the fall, as you recently saw. On November 26th at the Southeast Metropolitan Park in Del Valle I was pleased to find several of those trees with some of their leaves taking on orange hues. Notice the fuzzy goldenrod (Solidago sp.) seed heads in both pictures.

And if you’ll allow orange to shade toward tan and brown, then how about this long colony of slenderpod sesbania (Sesbania herbacea) stretched out along the edge of another pond at the site? The trees lined up parallel to them are paloverdes (Parkinsonia aculeata).

Here’s a closer look at the thorny green from the opposite side:

If you’d like some quotations about the color orange, you can find them in The Quote Garden.

The history of the word orange is also interesting.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 10, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Silver bluestem seed heads blowing

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November 9; Brushy Creek Lake Park in Cedar Park.
Silver bluestem = Bothriochloa laguroides.
Backlighting; shutter speed = 1/640.

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© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 9, 2020 at 4:36 AM

Autumn shorescape

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On the sunny morning of November 17th I felt compelled to stop for the first time in years at the northern end of Redbud Isle in the Colorado River when we were driving west and saw how good things looked there. The trees turning orange-brown are bald cypresses, Taxodium distichum. Below is a closer view looking up at a bald cypress; the darkish clumps on some of the branches are ball moss (Tillandsia recurvata).

Here’s a relevant quotation for today: “And all the lives we ever lived / And all the lives to be, / Are full of trees and changing leaves….” ― Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse, 1927

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 7, 2020 at 4:36 AM

Wind-waved willow yellow

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While wind whisked the leaves of this black willow tree sideways, my trusty camera set to 1/640 of a second proved its equal. The location on November 15th was new to me, Maxa Drive in Manor; the tree, Salix nigra, was hardly new, being a common species here. And not new either was the pretty yellow that the long leaves tend to turn before falling. Hardly half a mile east I’d earlier found and photographed a fine willow sapling serving as a backdrop for some bushy bluestem turned fluffy, both blazoned against the day’s blue skies. The two portraits exemplify the more-is-more or fill-the-frame esthetic that I often find myself drawn to.

Did you know that another English word for a willow is withy? Here’s “The Old Withy Tree” from an 1859 book called Songs of the Wye, and Poems, from a writer identified only by the pseudonym Wioni:

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 6, 2020 at 4:20 AM

Sycamore Saturday

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The late afternoon of December 2nd found us wandering the south bank of Brushy Creek just west of the eponymous round rock in Round Rock. There I photographed some sycamore trees (Platanus occidentalis) with leaves turning yellow and even orange. Backlighting enhanced the colors in the top portrait, while ripples on the surface of the creek made the reflections of another sycamore quite abstract.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 5, 2020 at 4:30 AM

A new source of fall color for me

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Driving about on the Blackland Prairie on November 11th, we came upon a pond that was new to us. Located along Kingston Lacy Blvd. in Pflugerville, a plaque identified it as Mirror Lake. Some of the usual water-loving species were growing around the edge of the pond, including Iva annua, known as annual sumpweed or annual marsh elder. On one of those plants I noticed a leaf that caught my attention for two reasons: it was bright yellow, and it stayed pressed to the stem from which it grew. As I’d never seen a sumpweed leaf like that, it was a welcome new source of fall color.

The Romans had a saying, Nihil sub sole novum, which Wiktionary says was borrowed from the Hebrew אֵין כָּל חָדָשׁ תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ‎ (en kol chadásh táchat hashámesh), “There’s nothing new under the sun.” Sorry, proverb, but this sunny leaf was new to me.

And speaking of old and new, the Illinois Wildflowers page for this species tells us that “Sumpweed has an interesting archaeological history because its seeds were used by early Amerindians as a source of food prior to the arrival of the squash-bean-corn complex from Mexico. The primary region of use was the lower to middle Mississippi region and the lower Midwest along the Ohio River. A cultivated variety of Sumpweed, Iva annua macrocarpa, was used for this purpose, as its seeds were about twice as long and wide in size (about 7 mm. in length and 4.5 mm. across) as the seeds of the wild varieties of Iva annua. Unfortunately, this cultivated variety of Sumpweed is now extinct with non-viable seeds existing only at archaeological sites or inside caves….”

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 3, 2020 at 4:37 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

Red of a sort that shouldn’t be here now

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The warm autumn in Austin this year led to the blooming of some plants that normally wait till spring. Among those were three Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa) that we found in the wetland pond section of Barkley Meadows Park in Del Valle on November 12th. Below is a view looking straight down.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 30, 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

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