Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘fall foliage

Fall foliage at Meadow Lake Park

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I try to go to Meadow Lake Park in Round Rock at least once a year because I always find some good native plants to take pictures of there. On the afternoon of November 4th I visited the park and photographed this colorful bald cypress tree, Taxodium distichum, set off by fleecy clouds. (From a month-ago post you may remember an earlier stage in color change.) The trees beyond the bald cypress are black willows, Salix nigra.

By the stand of black willows visible at the left edge of the first photograph I found a tall, slender stalk with yellowing leaves that Joe Marcus of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center identified as likely a species of Morus, which is to say mulberry. What the vine whose leaves were turning warm colors was, I don’t know, but the combination of yellow and red and orange against the blue sky certainly appealed to me.

Click to enlarge.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 28, 2018 at 4:34 AM

Virginia creeper creeping colorfully upward

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Long-time readers have heard me say, and central Texans don’t need me to tell them, that this area doesn’t have a lot of appealing fall foliage. One exception is Parthenocissus quinquefolia, a climbing vine known as Virginia creeper or, to keep the glory from going to another state, five-leaf creeper. On December 1st I was driving south on US 183 in Cedar Park, an adjacent suburb north of Austin, when I glimpsed a vertical band of red ahead and to my right. I knew right away that it had to be Virginia creeper, and I made sure to stop and photograph this unusually good display of it.

As is almost always the case along a main road in a populated area, I had to work at getting myself into positions—typically low ones—where I could exclude poles, power lines, stores, signs, vehicles, non-native trees, and other unwanted things from my pictures.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 16, 2017 at 4:49 PM

Fall foliage in Wimberley

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One of the scenic places we went in Wimberley on November 21st was Jacob’s Well. There we saw exactly one tree showing bright fall colors, this rusty blackhaw, Viburnum rufidulum. I think you’ll agree that that one was enough to make the visit to Jacob’s Well worthwhile.

A couple of weeks ago you got to look at another scenic place in Wimberley.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 3, 2017 at 4:42 AM

Sumac in the Guadalupe Mountains

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At the Guadalupe Mountains National Park visitor center late on the afternoon of November 9th I realized I had to give up on the idea of seeing the excellent fall foliage I’d hoped for. A ranger said that some bright color still existed in the park’s interior, but the sky was overcast, as you saw in the previous post, and not much daylight remained. As we continued driving east along US 62 headed for Carlsbad, New Mexico, a little color caught my eye, and when I pulled over and walked closer I saw that several sumacs (Rhus spp.) were the source. Adjacent to the sumacs were some composite plants that had turned fluffy; I never found out what they were. Near by were some scraggly dead branches that appealed to my scraggly nature.


© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 13, 2017 at 4:53 AM

Barely out of Kanab again

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The second and last morning (October 23rd) that we drove north from Kanab (Utah), we’d again barely gotten out of the town when I stopped on Highway 89, this time to explore a bit on the east side of the road where the subtle (and in the case of the prominent yellow tree not at all subtle) colors of fall were on display.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 20, 2016 at 4:58 AM

One advantage of traveling in higher latitudes and altitudes in the second half of October

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One advantage of traveling in higher latitudes and altitudes in the second half of October is the chance to see some colorful fall foliage. The first time we stopped for that was on October 20th as we drove south into Oak Creek Canyon in northern Arizona and pulled over at the entrance to the Cave Springs Campground. Most prominent initially were Lombardy poplars, but the name tells you that those trees aren’t native to the United States. I hope that this nearby tree with bright red leaves, apparently a maple, is native.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 23, 2016 at 3:56 AM

Closer and closer looks at Arizona ash trees turning bright yellow

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Arizona Ash Turned Yellow by Cliffs 9118

Above is a closer look at some Arizona ash trees, Fraxinus velutina, turning bright yellow along TX 17 between Balmorhea and Fort Davis on November 19. Once again cliffs serve as a backdrop.

Below is a still-closer look at this kind of tree on the following day along TX 118 just north of the town of Fort Davis.

Arizona Ash Tree Turned Bright Yellow 9572

And here’s an even closer look from the same stretch of road as the last.

Arizona Ash Leaves Turned Yellow 9575

I’d better stop closing in and just close.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 23, 2015 at 5:19 AM

20 days later

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Three-Leaf Sumac Turning Colors by Cedar Elm and Yaupon 0992

In the previous post you saw some three-leaf sumac (Rhus trilobata) turning colors in the shelter of a sotol in the Chisos Basin of Big Bend National Park. Twenty days later, on December 13, after an overnight rain I walked through Great Hills Park in my Austin neighborhood and saw another three-leaf sumac turning bright colors. It was sheltered, too, but this time beneath two kinds of trees, cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia) and yaupon (Ilex vomitoria). Yaupons aren’t deciduous, and that’s why you see so many green leaves here.

The fact that everything was still wet or at least damp caused colors to appear more saturated than during drier times, including the next day, when I returned and found that the lichen on the tree trunks had already lost the pale green cast that I couldn’t help noticing when I took this picture.

If you’ve wondered why I’ve posted some (or even all) of the fall foliage photographs that I have, I ask your forbearance. In cold climates many of these pictures wouldn’t show anything special, given the great autumn displays that deciduous trees regularly put on up there. Down here in warm Texas, however, fall foliage is limited, and my purpose is to make people appreciate what little of it we do have in this part of the country.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 21, 2015 at 5:28 AM

Sheltered colors

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Colorful Rhus triloba in Shelter of Sotol 0295

Several times during the Trans-Pecos visit I noticed Rhus trilobata, known as skunkbush and three-leaf sumac, which also grows in Austin. Like other Rhus species, three-leaf sumac has compound leaves that tend to turn colors in the fall. That’s what you see happening to this sapling in the shelter of some sotols, Dasylirion spp., in the Chisos Basin at Big Bend National Park on November 23.

A lot is going on in this little scene aside from the emergence of the prominent red in the sumac. Notice how the sotol’s fresh leaves contrast in color and linearity with its tan ones. Less conspicuously, note that what was once a sotol flower stalk now lies fallen and gray on the ground in the lower left corner of the photograph. And then there are those scraggly dead branches of some other plant reaching in from the opposite corner.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 20, 2015 at 5:00 AM

A colorful one-day detour

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Flameleaf Sumac Turning Colors 0647

As a one-day detour from the pictures documenting my five-day trip to the Trans-Pecos, here’s a view of the most reliable fall foliage Austin residents can expect to see near the end of each calendar year. You’re looking at a prairie flameleaf sumac, Rhus lanceolata, late in the afternoon on a clear, warm, and warmly lit December 4 in northwest Austin.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 11, 2015 at 4:55 AM

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