Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘bud

Bluebell bud and flower

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Way back on June 8th I went to a little pond I know on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin because in some previous years I’d found good amounts of bluebells (Eustoma sp.) there. No luck then, but I did better when I returned on July 29th. Well, only slightly better: I found exactly three scattered bluebells, and all of them had been partly eaten (by what, I don’t know). By getting on the ground and aiming judiciously, I managed to make this portrait of a bluebell bud rising in front of a non-nibbled part of one of the flowers.

In our Ancient History Department, the magazine Archaeology reports in its July/August 2020 issue the discovery at Abri du Maras in France of the earliest known piece of cord. It dates back 46,000 years and was made, surprisingly, by Neanderthals. The article says that the “cord was made of three separate strands of fiber taken from the inner bark of a coniferous tree… The strands were then twisted in a clockwise direction to hold the fibers together, after which they were twisted together in a counterclockwise motion to make the cord.” That led archaeologist Bruce Hardy of Kenyon College “to believe that Neanderthals shared a cognitive capacity for mathematics with modern humans.” You can read more about this find in a Science News story.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 19, 2020 at 4:46 AM

Two riders on velvetleaf mallow

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On July 5th west of Morado Circle I photographed some velvetleaf mallow plants (Allowisadula holosericea) that were beginning to flower, as you see in the first picture. I didn’t notice the little dark insect until I looked at the picture on my computer screen days later. In contrast, I couldn’t help but notice the colorful critter that the second picture shows you on the underside of one of the mallow’s leaves. Don’t you think parts of its body look like they’re riveted together? Val Bugh tells me it’s an immature Niesthrea louisianica. That species is in the family Rhopalidae, whose members are known collectively as scentless plant bugs, though this one apparently lacks a common name (like the Calocoris barberi that you saw here not long ago).

An unrelated saying for today: “Worry is interest paid on trouble before it falls due.”
That thought appeared in William Meade Pegram’s 1909 book Past-Times,
which included a section that offered up various proverbs.
Where the quoted one originated isn’t clear, but I won’t worry about it.
Here’s another along similar lines:
“Anxiety and Ennui are the pencils that Time uses to draw wrinkles.”

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 23, 2020 at 4:42 AM

Cowpen daisy buds and flowers

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For whatever reason, I rarely come across cowpen daisies (Verbesina encelioides) except in a few places, all of which conveniently happen to be near each other in my own neighborhood. On June 6th (D-for-Daisy Day) I was coming home “the back way” on Rain Creek Parkway when I spotted some wildflowers by the side of the road bordering the Great Hills Country Club and stopped to investigate.

The Wikipedia article on this species gives the additional common names golden crownbeard, gold weed, wild sunflower, butter daisy, American dogweed, and South African daisy. That last is strange because this species is native in North America, not South Africa.

In contrast to the yellowscuro portrait above, look at how different the second picture is. I’d made it two minutes earlier by getting low and aiming upward toward a patch of bright blue sky rather than downward toward a partly shaded area the way I did in the top portrait.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 2, 2020 at 4:43 AM

Texas thistle bud with disk florets emerging parallel

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I don’t remember ever seeing an opening Cirsium texanum bud whose disc florets* had emerged so far while keeping together in a bundle of parallel elements.  If any of you who are familiar with this wildflower have seen instances of the emerging florets staying so neatly packed for such a distance, please let me know; maybe it’s not as unusual as I think. I found this roughly cylindrical thistle on June 10th in the town of Manor.

*The Texas thistle, though in the composite botanical family, lacks ray florets. So does its local tribe-mate in that family, the basket-flower.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 1, 2020 at 4:38 AM

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Sound the trumpet

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On May 26th ominous clouds made me give up taking pictures in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183. The next morning I went back and resumed photographing native plants there. One I found was a trumpet vine, Campsis radicans, with both flowers and buds. The buds were more heavily covered with dewdrops and made better portrait subjects. I estimate this bud was about 2 inches (5 cm) long.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 9, 2020 at 4:43 AM

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Three approaches to portraying basket-flower “baskets”

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On the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on May 7th I tried various approaches to photographing basket-flower “baskets” in a search for new ways to portray the familiar species Plectocephalus americanus (even if the new genus name isn’t yet familiar). For the first picture, I cast my shadow on the subject to create soft lighting while a wide aperture of f/3.5 kept the background well out of focus. I also had no aversion to a version in which f/8 let a background basket-flower reveal more of its shape:

For the third portrait I used the familiar technique of aiming toward a deeply shaded area:

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 31, 2020 at 4:29 AM

Engelmann daisy flower head and bud

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From April 26th along Old Lampasas Trail comes this gialloscuro* portrait
of Engelmann daisies (Engelmannia peristenia).

* The Italian term chiaroscuro means literally bright-dark. I replaced the first part with giallo,
the Italian word for yellow, to get gialloscuro. In Englitalian that’s yellowscuro.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 30, 2020 at 4:38 AM

Two stages of a Texas thistle

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Around the pond at the Arbor Walk on April 15th I saw several stages of Texas thistles (Cirsium texanum),
including these two. Both views include blue, first looking down toward the water, then up at the sky.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 28, 2020 at 4:53 PM

An unusual pink evening primrose bud

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I’ve long been intrigued by the buds of pink evening primrose, Oenothera speciosa, especially as they open. Usually they’re pretty straight, but this one at the Riata Trace Pond on April 5th attracted me all the more because of its curved tip. People have told me that the little green insect, which I’m not sure I even noticed at the time, is an aphid nymph.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 23, 2020 at 4:38 PM

Dioxyna picciola

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During my time on the wildflowery embankment along Mopac at Braker Lane on March 18, I got in close to photograph the bud of a greenthread, Thelesperma filifolium. That’s when I noticed a tiny insect on it, not much more than 1/8 of an inch long (3mm). In looking more carefully, I realized I was seeing two insects, one on top of the other. Not recognizing them, I turned to Val Bugh, who quickly identified these for me as “the almost perpetually mating fruit flies… Dioxyna picciola. I think they don’t mate ALL the time, but they are so small that it is easier to notice them as a pair.” On the esthetic side, note the way the bud lines up with the center of a greenthread flower head. Note also the pleasant colors, including a little indigo from nearby bluebonnets. Below you get a better look at the action in a side view from a different frame.

Given the insects’ tiny size, the low light due to overcast skies, and the fact that the breeze moved the greenthread bud even as the flies sometimes moved about on it, I set a high ISO and a fast shutter speed and adopted the strategy of taking a bunch of pictures in the hope that a few of them would turn out okay. My minimally acceptable rate ended up being only one in six.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 26, 2020 at 4:26 AM

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