Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘flower

Low wild petunia

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From Vaught Ranch Road on June 13th come two views of a native wildflower
I’d never photographed before: Ruellia humilis, known as low wild petunia.

Here’s an unrelated little mathematical diversion: the four numbers 1, 1.2, 2, and 3 have the interesting property that whether you add all of them or multiply all of them you get the same result (in this case 7.2). Are they the only foursome like that? Hardly. For example, whether you add -2, -1, 0, and 3 or multiply -2, -1, 0, and 3, you get the same result (in this case 0). Would you believe that infinitely many sets of four numbers exist that also have the property that adding the four numbers gives the same result as multiplying them? That turns out to be the truth of the matter. Are you surprised?

The second example suggests a template for generating as many more sets of numbers as you like that have the desired property. Let the first of the four numbers be 0. Now pick any two different negative numbers you like (say for example –4 and –6). Finally, add the two negative numbers and make the sum positive (in this case 10). You’ll now have four numbers with the desired property (–4, –6, 0, 10). This works because 0 times any other number is 0, and you’ve rigged the addition in such a way that the positive number cancels out the two negative numbers. In fact you can extend the pattern to as many numbers as you like. For instance, here are six numbers such that adding them gives the same result as multiplying them: 0, -3, -7, -10, -15, 35.

As a quotation for today, let me quote myself: Zero may be nothing, but not for nothing is zero special.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 4, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Clematis drummondii flower viewed edge-on

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I made this portrait on June 25th in Great Hills Park.
You saw a later stage in this vine’s development a week ago.

Related quotation for today: “There is that in the glance of a flower
which may at times control the greatest of creation’s braggart lords.”
— John Muir in A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf, 1916.

News flash (July 22, 2020): Sierra Club denounces founder John Muir; statues of him to be removed.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 24, 2020 at 4:43 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

A golden basket and a wheel of fire

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A post yesterday in “The World According to Dina” began with a quotation by Cézanne: “La couleur est le lieu où notre cerveau et l’univers se rencontrent,” “Color is the place where our mind and the universe meet.” What a great poetic idea, don’t you think? The post included three of Dina’s photographic experiments in color created by moving the camera while the shutter remained open. Go have a look.

As you know, I’ve also been pursuing color abstraction this year. For me the points of entry have been the colors and shapes of Austin’s wildflowers. The title of today’s post alludes to two of them: the basket-flower, Plectocephalus americanus, and the firewheel, Gaillardia pulchella. The one “basket” and the two firewheels portrayed here were growing in the dedicated wildflower area at the Floral Park Drive entrance to Great Hills Park on July 8th. If you’re burning to read more into the image, the little structures on the basket could be stylized flames.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 11, 2020 at 4:41 AM

A confirmation on upper Bull Creek

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Yesterday you saw two views of a tiny wildflower that got identified for me as Samolus ebracteatus var. cuneatus, known as limewater brookweed and limestone brook-pimpernel. Later it occurred to me that I might have spotted the species last year at the base of a limestone overhang a few miles away along the upper reaches of Bull Creek, so on July 1st I went back to the spot to find out. Sure enough, that was it. The picture above shows you a few of those plants practically lost among some healthy southern maidenhair ferns (Adiantum capillus-veneris) and inland sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium).

If you could float back maybe 30 feet from this ferny nook and look to your left, you’d get the view shown below of the scalloped limestone cliffs along this scenic stretch of Bull Creek. Notice the dead trees hanging upside; that phenomenon was the focus of a post in 2016.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 10, 2020 at 4:42 AM

Limewater brookweed

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Along the Capital of Texas Highway on June 27th I noticed a plant with tiny white flowers of a distinctive shape. I didn’t recognize the wildflower, but thanks to Casey Williams of the Texas Flora group on Facebook I learned that it’s Samolus ebracteatus ssp. cuneatus, known as limewater brookweed and limestone brook-pimpernel. It was my first identified new species for 2020. While Austin has plenty of plants in the evening primrose family, this is one of the few in the actual primrose family, Primulaceae. Botanist Bill Carr says of the species that it’s “frequent in moist clayey soil around springs and on seepage slopes, often at the base of limestone cliffs.” Sure enough, I found the plant at the base of a limestone cliff that was seeping water. Below is a view looking into one of the flowers, which was only about a quarter of an inch (6mm) across.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 9, 2020 at 4:46 AM

Miscellany

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Apropos of nothing in particular, don’t you love how stilted some spam comments are? Here’s a recent one I got: “A person essentially lend a hand to make significantly posts I would state. This is the first time I frequented your web page and up to now? I surprised with the analysis you made to make this particular submit extraordinary. Magnificent job!” What can I say? I’ve made to make all my submits extraordinary.

I’m reading Charles MacKay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds, which first appeared in 1841. What ever could have made me turn to such a book?

Because of the pandemic, people in nudist resorts are having to wear face masks. Yes, and they’re not happy about it; they say it ruins the experience. Oh well, in this case it’s better to be completely virus-free than completely clothing-free, don’t you think?

And because this is a nature photography blog, I guess I should include a picture. Here from June 6th in my neighborhood is a flowering silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) with some spider silk on it.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 6, 2020 at 4:41 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

Posted in nature photography

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Texas bindweed flower and basket-flower

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In Great Hills Park on June 15th I found a Texas bindweed flower (Convolvulus equitans) close enough to a basket-flower (Plectocephalus americanus) that the latter* could serve as a pretty backdrop for the former. Note the color harmony between the center of the bindweed blossom and the basket-flower beyond it.

* Because of the way we Americans pronounce latter, Britons are amused when they hear us saying what sounds to them like the former and the ladder.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 17, 2020 at 4:47 AM

Beetle on a buffalo gourd flower

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Somehow I haven’t shown a picture of a buffalo gourd flower here since 2011, so it’s high time to make up for the oversight. That making up is made easy by the fact that on May 15th off Lost Horizon Dr. I found a group of flowering Cucurbita foetidissima vines. The species name indicates that this plant has quite an unpleasant smell—at least to people. The odor seems to have had the opposite effect on the little pollen-bedecked beetle shown here that had come from the flower’s interior out onto its rim.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 14, 2020 at 4:37 AM

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