Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘colony

Some last pictures from Bastrop

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On June 6th we’d gone to Bastrop by traveling south and then east, so we spiced up the return to Austin by heading north from Bastrop and then turning west. The show-stopper (and me-stopper) along TX 95 was a colony of beebalm, Monarda punctata, interspersed with brown-eyed (also called black-eyed) susans, Rudbeckia hirta. Below is a view of some susans in their own right that I’d hung out with while still in Bastrop State Park. As you can confirm, the excellent wildflower spring of 2019 hadn’t yet quit by early June.

Oh, and do you see that bare dead tree in the upper left of the second landscape? I walked up to it, wanting to isolate it against the sky, but I couldn’t find a position from which it appeared completely by itself. Below is the best I could do; at least I got a puff of a cloud as an accompaniment.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 22, 2019 at 4:38 PM

Eight years

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On June 4, 2011, the first post in Portraits of Wildflowers went up. In commemoration, here’s one picture from each June in the first eight calendar years this series has been running. Clicking a photograph will take you back to the original post it appeared in so you can learn about or be reminded of the subject if you wish.

To inaugurate the June that began three days ago, after the eight pictures from yesteryear I’ve appended a picture of prairie verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida) from June 1st of this year at the intersection of RM 2222 and Mount Bonnell Rd. The dreaminess of the portrait belies the noise and heat I experienced.

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 4, 2019 at 2:44 AM

Wildfires and wildflowers

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Moved to action by some timely photographs on the internet, on May 25th I drove an hour west from Austin to Inks Lake State Park, where dense and expansive colonies of coreopsis were the attraction.

A wildfire in July 2018 may have cleared the way for the coreopsis that throve this spring, setting up quite a striking contrast between the fresh flowers and the burned, dead trees. On the other hand, coreopsis and other wildflowers also covered tracts that fire may not have reached.

In the picture above, the red flowers are Indian blankets (Gaillardia pulchella) and the pink ones are meadow pinks (Sabatia campestris). Below are more meadow pinks, along with a few holdover Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa); I say “holdover” because most paintbrushes ended their season a month ago.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 1, 2019 at 7:16 AM

A colony of basket-flowers

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Along Pflugerville Parkway on May 26th I found a happy colony of basket-flowers, until recently known to botanists as Centaurea americana and now apparently as Plectocephalus americanus. But what’s in a (scientific) name? Flourishing today, withered and wind-wafted tomorrow.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 30, 2019 at 4:41 AM

More from Capital of Texas Highway

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The wildflowers were so yummy along Capital of Texas Highway on May 21st that I owe you another look. The purple flowers are horsemints, Monarda citriodora. Most of the others are Indian blankets, Gaillardia pulchella, many of which had already shed their red-and-yellow rays and become little seed-sowing globes.

On May 22nd, wanting to capitalize on the floral bounty, I again photographed along Capital of Texas Highway. The tall plant with the sinuous stalk of buds is downy gaura, Oenothera curtiflora. In contrast, notice that the stalk of the downy gaura plant behind the main one is pretty straight. And how could your eyes not be drawn down the stem of the foremost guara to the bright firewheel at its base?

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 28, 2019 at 4:49 AM

May maxed out the wildflowers

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May this year maxed out the wildflowers along Austin’s Capital of Texas Highway, making it temporarily a floral capital in the western hills to balance the granite and limestone one downtown. On the 21st I spent two hours taking pictures in the southwest quadrant of the highway’s intersection with RM 2222. In the first photograph, the purple stacks are horsemints, Monarda citriodora. The flower heads with dark columns and mostly brownish-red rays are Mexican hats, Ratibida columnifera. The round and mostly red flower heads are Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheels, Indian blankets, and blanketflowers.

The second picture provides a closer look, with Mexican hats coming to the fore. You’ll notice that the amount of yellow in their rays ranges from 100% down to a small fraction; that’s normal variation and doesn’t indicate different species, subspecies, or even varieties.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 26, 2019 at 4:37 PM

But it wasn’t just the prairie

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My jaunts to northeast Austin on May 9th and May 12th were making me tie the profusion of Bifora americana to the Blackland Prairie, and the common names prairie bishop and prairie bishop’s weed* reinforced that. Then on May 13th I found myself in the second suburb north-northwest of Austin, Leander, where prairie bishop once again became a hero**, this time on the west side of US 183 in a large field that’s prairie-ish but likely lies too far west to be considered part of the Blackland Prairie.

The Engelmann daisy colony (Engelmannia peristenia) there was probably the best I’ve ever seen. Notice the many firewheels (Gaillardia pulchella) mixed in as well.

Except for a utility crew that had pulled over on the shoulder of the highway a bit ahead of me to do whatever work they’d been sent to do, not one person in the hundreds of other cars that passed by while I was there stopped to enjoy the view. Here’s how the prairie bishop looked in the swale by the side of the highway.

* Don’t confuse our native prairie bishop’s weed with bishop’s weed, Aegopodium podagraria, a species from Eurasia that has become an invasive nuisance in parts of the United States. As Joel E. Holloway notes sarcastically in A Dictionary of Common Wildflowers of Texas & the Southern Great Plains, the name bishop’s weed was “first applied in Scotland because it was almost impossible to get rid of, as it would be to remove a bishop from the church.”

**The Leander in Texas takes its name from Leander “Catfish” Brown, an official of the Austin and Northwestern Railroad Co. in the 1880s. That down-to-earth origin hasn’t deterred the town from playing up the ancient Greek myth of Hero and Leander, even to the point of renaming a road Hero Way. (Public information officer Mike Neu told me that the road’s new name was also intended as a tribute to public service men and women.) Additionally the town of Leander has inspired the clever and alliterative paleontological name Leanderthal Lady.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 22, 2019 at 4:40 AM

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