Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘botany

Horsetail detail

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Horsetail Detail 7461

From the Volo Bog State Natural Area in Lake County, Illinois, on June 7th comes this elongated closeup of a horsetail (Equisetum spp.).

Of the more than two thousand photographs that have appeared here over the past five years, this may be the one with the greatest height-to-width ratio.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 19, 2016 at 4:44 AM

What I’d stopped to photograph

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White Pink Evening Primrose Flower 2476

What I’d stopped to photograph on April 30 along the Copperfield Nature Trail when Eve walked ahead and found the prickly pear flower in the dewberry patch was a white variant of a pink evening primrose, Oenothera speciosa. Near the flower’s upper margins you can make out a faint tinge of the usual color.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 23, 2016 at 5:08 AM

Brown-eyed susan by pinweed

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Brown-Eyed Susan Flower Head by Pinweed 5487

And now back to Bastrop County. When I visited on June 4th I found this flower head of Rudbeckia hirta, known as brown-eyed susan or black-eyed susan. (You may remember seeing a whole colony of these in a post on the Fourth of July.) This time the warm background color came not from the earth, as it did in the photograph of the lazy daisy, but from some drying narrowleaf pinweed, Lechea tenuifolia.


UPDATE. Entomologist Mike Quinn has finally tracked down the identity of the purple sawfly larvae you saw here a few days ago. If you go back to that post, near the end you’ll find the identity and a link to what an adult looks like (and see how different it is).

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 17, 2015 at 5:21 AM

Pickerelweed inflorescence

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Pickerelweed Flower Spike 4133

That purplish haze you saw behind the curved smartweed flower stalk last time came from another water-loving plant, Pontederia cordata, known as pickerelweed (and there’s another “weed” for you). Now have a look at some pickerelweed flowers in their own right, in a view that’s likewise from June 2nd at the pond behind the truck depot on E. Howard Ln.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 1, 2015 at 5:09 AM

I left 63 comments on other people’s blogs in one day!

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One Sunday a couple of months ago I set myself a challenge: I wondered if I could leave a hundred comments on other people’s blogs that day. The comments couldn’t be just a quick word or phrase like “Wonderful” or “Great picture,” but had to be at least a good-size sentence and preferably several sentences, so that I was truly interacting with the other people. From the title of today’s post you can see that I got only five-eighths of the way to meeting my self-imposed goal, but that still wasn’t a bad showing. (If you’re wondering how I knew I’d left 63 comments, I made a tally mark on a piece of paper after I posted each comment.)

So now to you, dear reader: have you ever tried to leave a lot of comments in one day? If so, tell us how it went. If not, and if you’d like to try the experiment, come back here after you’ve given it a shot and report the results.

In the meantime, so as not to leave you with a pictureless post, here’s a cluster of marsh fleabane flowers, Pluchea odorata, that I photographed at Brushy Creek Lake Park in the town of Cedar Park four years ago today. Texas was in a historic drought that summer, but some species still managed to thrive.

Marsh Fleabane Flowers 0275

Click for greater size and detail.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 26, 2015 at 5:34 AM

New Zealand: Turutu amid ferns

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Turutu with Fruit 7087

Not everything at Wai-O-Tapu is geothermal. There are also some pleasant areas of native bush, in one of which I found a turutu plant among lush ferns when I walked about on February 24th. You can’t see much of the plant per se, but its colorful little fruits are hard to miss, and they’ve prompted the vernacular names blueberry and inkberry. For more information about what botanists know as Dianella nigra, you can check out the relevant T.E.R.R:A.I.N article.

(I’ve added an update to yesterday’s post about the possible pronunciations of the word elephantine, of which there are at least four.)

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 13, 2015 at 5:13 AM

Botany Primer

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In recent years I’ve regretted not taking an introductory botany course in college, so I was glad when I got an e-mail the other day pointing to a free pdf document called Botany Primer. That 79-page illustrated primer is the first link at


which also provides links to other documents you may find interesting.

UPDATE: See the additional free resource that’s linked in the first comment below.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 19, 2015 at 12:38 PM

Posted in nature photography

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Ferns as tall as trees

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Tree Ferns from Below 3471

Click for better quality.

A visitor to New Zealand can’t help noticing how many native ferns there are and how large they can get. It’s not an exaggeration to say that some grow as tall as trees, and people even refer to them as tree ferns. I photographed the ones in today’s picture, which were perhaps two or three times my height, in the shade of the forest at the Parry Kauri Park in Warkworth*, in the northern part of the North Island, on the afternoon of February 6. Kiwis (as the inhabitants of New Zealand are known) will recognize that as Waitangi Day, the national holiday, and in fact earlier in the day our hosts had taken us to attend the festivities at Waitangi itself.

* New Zealand English generally drops an r that closes a syllable or that’s part of a syllable-final consonant cluster, so Warkworth sounds to American ears as if it’s Walkworth, which is as appropriate for the site of a nature park as the name Wordsworth is for a great poet.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 14, 2015 at 5:59 AM

Cocklebur seed head remains by pond

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Dry Cockleburs by Sump 9511

From February 21, 2012, on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin, come the remains of a cocklebur plant, Xanthium strumarium, that was standing in shallow water near the edge of a sump. Like the seed capsules of the European burdock that inspired Velcro, these prickly seed capsules are designed to break off and cling to the fur of animals (and now to the hair and clothing of people).

Although Xanthium strumarium isn’t a rare plant in Austin, today marks its first appearance in these pages.


I’m away from home. You’re welcome to leave comments, but please understand if I’m slow in responding.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 20, 2015 at 5:15 AM

Red buckeye leaves opening

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Red Buckeye Leaves Opening 0377

Aesculus pavia var. pavia is a small tree that’s commonly known as red buckeye. Here you see some of its foliage opening on February 22, 2012, in the greenbelt behind the Austin Nature Center. Isn’t that sheen something?


I’m away from home. You’re welcome to leave comments, but please understand if I’m slow in responding.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 19, 2015 at 5:11 AM

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