Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘dunes

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park landscape with clouds

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coral-pink-sand-dunes-and-clouds-5220a

Southern Utah; October 23, 2016.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 13, 2017 at 4:50 AM

A rare milkweed

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welshs-milkweed-on-coral-pink-sand-dunes-5246

At Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in southern Utah on October 23, 2016, I encountered the rare Welsh’s milkweed, Asclepias welshii.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 2, 2017 at 5:02 AM

Dunes Creek

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Dunes Creek Colors and Patterns 8222

Most people go to Indiana Dunes State Park to see the dunes and the beach along Lake Michigan. That’s why I went there on June 17, but I also couldn’t help noticing and being intrigued by the colors of Dunes Creek close to where it empties into Lake Michigan. I’ve read that the warm colors are due to tannins released by black oak leaves that fall into the creek and decay there.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 18, 2016 at 5:02 AM

Given enough time

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Indiana Dunes with Vegetation 8498

Given enough time and enough freedom from human interaction, the Indiana Dunes gradually cover themselves with vegetation, including trees, as you can see in these views from West Beach at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on June 18. The image below shows how a pond that had formed in a hollow between two dunes supports rich vegetation around its fringes.

Pond in Indiana Dunes 8489

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 17, 2016 at 4:51 AM

A tale of two junipers

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Lady Bird Johnson website: "Although commonly a tree in Eurasia, Common Juniper is only rarely a small tree in New England and other northeastern States. In the West, it is a low shrub, often at timberline. Including geographic varieties, this species is the most widely distributed native conifer in both North America and the world. Juniper berries are food for wildlife, especially grouse, pheasants, and bobwhites. They are an ingredient in gin, producing the distinctive aroma and tang.”

The other juniper that Melissa pointed out to us at Illinois Beach State Park on June 6th was a species that forms broad, low mounds, Juniperus communis. Here’s a picture from the overcast morning of June 9th showing a prominent common juniper mound in the foreground and several others farther back. The yellow-orange wildflowers are the hoary puccoon that you saw closer views of a few weeks ago.

Whenever I come across the species name communis I’m accustomed to finding out that the plant in question is native to Europe, where Linnaeus and other early botanists considered it “common.” I was surprised, then, to learn that Juniperus communis is native on several continents. Here’s what the website of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center says: “Although commonly a tree in Eurasia, Common Juniper is only rarely a small tree in New England and other northeastern States.  In the West, it is a low shrub, often at timberline. Including geographic varieties, this species is the most widely distributed native conifer in both North America and the world. Juniper berries are food for wildlife, especially grouse, pheasants, and bobwhites. They are an ingredient in gin, producing the distinctive aroma and tang.”

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 30, 2016 at 5:07 AM

Creeping juniper

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Creeping Juniper on Dunes 7635

Melissa told us on June 6th at Illinois Beach State Park that two kinds of juniper grow on the dunes there. The one shown here from a photo outing three days later is Juniperus horizontalis, which lives up to its species name by staying close to the ground as it creeps along the beach. Note the mostly immature fruit in the second picture. (Both photographs look predominantly downward.)

In Undaunted Courage, Stephen Ambrose quoted from Meriwether Lewis’s journal entry of April 12, 1805, written in what I think is now North Dakota: “This plant would make very handsome edgings to the borders and walks of a garden…. [and it is] easily propegated*.” Lewis had called the plant “dwarf juniper,” which Ambrose interpreted as creeping juniper.

Creeping Juniper with Fruit 7693

* Neither Lewis nor Clark used standardized or even consistent spelling. The quoted sentence, with just one mistake, is an example of Lewis’s best spelling.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 29, 2016 at 5:11 AM

Sand blowing off a dune

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Sand Blowing Off Dune 9392

Of course the main thing that drew me back to Monahans Sandhills State Park on the morning of April 13th was the dunes. At first the air was still, but it didn’t take long for the wind to pick up. I hoped the blowing sand wouldn’t get into my equipment (luckily it didn’t, but I didn’t dare change lenses) as I worked to get pictures that would capture the sense of the wind and the sand’s movement.

The typical “ripples” that you see on a sand dune come about through a geological process called saltation, which has nothing to do with salt, and which you can read a short explanation of on a page from the Great Sand Dunes website. If you’d like to know more about the word saltation itself, you can check out yesterday’s post on my language blog.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 12, 2014 at 6:02 AM

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