Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘buds

Tansy mustard buds opening

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From Gonzales on March 19, here are the opening buds of tansy mustard, Descurainia pinnata. What you’re seeing wasn’t much more than an inch across. The red in the background came from phlox flowers.

And here’s a passage from John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty that’s every bit as germane today as it was in 1859, and probably even more so:

Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly*, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant — society collectively over the separate individuals who compose it — its means of tyrannising are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates; and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development and, if possible, prevent the formation of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence; and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs as protection against political despotism.

* Mill is using vulgar in its original meaning, which referred to ‘the common folk, the populace.’ The word later developed the pejorative sense that now dominates.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 29, 2021 at 4:40 AM

Coral honeysuckle flower and buds

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A couple of months ago I discovered a picture in my archives that I’d never shown, so here it is on the 10th anniversary of the date I took it. You’re looking at a coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) flower surrounded by buds along Great Northern Blvd. Unfortunately construction along Mopac and the building of a sound-mitigating wall have destroyed or blocked much of the strip where I used to photograph native plants.

And here’s a quotation for today: “… [A] copy of the universe is not what is required of art; one of the damned thing is ample.” — Rebecca West, 1928, in the essay “The Strange Necessity.” Quote Investigator offers more information.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 10, 2021 at 4:36 AM

Tall

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When we visited the Bastrop forest on August 14th in search of Liatris elegans, which we happily found, we also noticed many conspicuously tall, erect plants of a different species, Liatris aspera, known appropriately as tall liatris, tall blazing-star, and tall gayfeather. Almost all those plants were still only budding on August 14th, so nine days later we headed back on the assumption that enough time would have passed for a bunch of the buds to have opened. And so they had. Above you see two buds beginning to open, and then a mixture of buds and flower heads. Notice how the buds open from the top of each spike downward.

Notice also how there’s a flower head at the apex of each spike. On one spike that was still short enough for me to look down at its top, I photographed the opening flower head at its tip.

You see below what a fully open flower head looks like:

And here’s another thought by our friend Blaise Pascal (1623–1662), from his Pensées (Thoughts): “Dire la vérité est utile à celui à qui on la dit, mais désavantageux à ceux qui la disent, parce qu’ils se font haïr.” “Speaking the truth is useful for those to whom it is spoken, but harmful for those who speak it, because people will hate them for saying it.”

I just found out that François de la Rochefoucauld (1613–1680) said something similar in his Maximes: “Le mal que nous faisons ne nous attire pas tant de persécution et de haine que nos bonnes qualités.” “The bad things that we do don’t lead to as much persecution and hatred of us as do our good qualities.”

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 2, 2020 at 4:33 AM

Black vulture eating an armadillo

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“Wait a minute, not so fast,” you say, “your title can’t fool me. Neither of these pictures shows a black vulture eating an armadillo. The first is of a bull nettle flower (Cnidoscolus texanus), and the second shows yellowing Lindheimer’s senna leaflets (Senna lindheimeriana) backlit by the sun.” That’s what you say, and you’re right.

The fact remains that maybe once a year in my part of Austin I’ve come across and photographed vultures eating a dead animal. I’ve never posted any of those pictures because even if scenes like that are a part of life in the natural world, many viewers would find them gross. On August 5th, driving back home from the outing in my neighborhood that produced the two pictures above (along with those of the two green herons you recently saw), I had my latest encounter, this time with an armadillo providing the food for a black vulture (Coragyps atratus). If you’re up for such a picture, you can follow this link to see it. If you’d rather stick with the pretty white flower and backlit yellowing leaflets, no one will blame you.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 25, 2020 at 4:36 AM

More from the July 29th outing on the Blackland Prairie

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Let me continue with the July 29th photo session near a pond on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin that produced the torchlike Clematis drummondii picture you saw here last time. On another of those vines I noticed that some of its silky strands had been pulled together; by getting close I made a soft portrait that included the spider that had done the pulling together. Click the excerpt below if you’d like a closer look at the spinner (which is what spider means).

I also made a pretty pastel picture of marsh fleabane buds (Pluchea odorata).
It’s been five years since that species last appeared in these pages.

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” — U.S. Supreme Court, “West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943).

UPDATE: In yesterday’s post I’ve added a link below Emma Lazarus’s sonnet so you can hear the famous part set to music by a famous immigrant to the United States.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 22, 2020 at 4:45 AM

A moody old plainsman

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You can draw your own conclusions about whether the title of today’s post describes the author. Not at issue is this moody view of what is indisputably an old plainsman, Hymenopappus scabiosaeus, whose buds were opening up the promise of white flowers. A Texas dandelion, Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus, provided the yellow halo in this April 5th view from the Riata Trace Pond. Note the coincidence in the pappus that’s the second part of both genus names and that gives me pause when I try to remember which name goes with which plant.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 19, 2020 at 4:34 AM

Another native species flowering in Austin in January

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It’s not unusual to see the shrubby boneset plants (Ageratina havanensis) in northwest Austin flowering in January as a continuation of the bloom season that began in the fall. The bushes of that species along Floral Park Drive in my neighborhood were still putting out new buds and flowers on January 18th, as you see here.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 23, 2020 at 4:17 PM

Light and dark in Galveston County

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As you saw a couple of posts ago, on October 4th we went on a field trip to a property in Galveston County managed by the Marathon Oil Company. The visit produced these two moody portraits showing the opening bud on a green milkweed, Asclepias viridis, that we found growing there. I can’t help thinking of side and front views on a prison rap sheet, only here it’s native plants that are wanted.

The contrast between white and black stood out in this growth on a fallen and decaying pine trunk:

Dark and light characterized the seed head remains of a brown-eyed susan, Rudbeckia hirta:

On a much larger scale, a venerable tree (perhaps an ash) at another property on the field trip also intrigued me with its interplay of light and shadow as well as the hollowed-out part of its trunk:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 18, 2019 at 4:48 AM

Texas milkweed flowers and buds

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On June 12th, after photographing spittlebug spittle, I began making my way back along the clifftop trail above the Colorado River on the west side of the Capital of Texas Highway. After a while I came to a fork. Rather than returning the rest of the way on the same trail I’d come on, I took the path less traveled by, and that made all the difference. It made a difference because I came across first one and then another wildflower I hadn’t seen in years. Both were in mostly shaded wooded areas, yet each was magically lit for a little while by light coming through openings in the canopy. The first was Texas milkweed, Asclepias texana, a perennial whose presence in Travis County botanist Bill Carr describes as “rare in and along margins of juniper-oak woodlands on rocky limestone slopes.”

UPDATE. With regard to the recent post showing spittlebug spittle, Wanda Hill suggested cropping down to the large bubble at the lower tip of the spittle and rotating it 180° so the sky would be at the top. I’ve done that, and if you’d like to see the result, check out the addition at the end of that post.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 12, 2019 at 4:37 AM

Woolly ironweed

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I’ve had trouble over the years getting good pictures of woolly ironweed, Vernonia lindheimeri, because it’s hard to get many of its parts in focus at the same time. On June 18th I found some woolly ironweed budding along the Capital of Texas Highway and recorded this straight-down, limited-focus, double-asterisk view that seems okay. To see what the flowers of this species look like, you can check out a post from 2015.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 1, 2019 at 4:47 PM

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