Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘fruit

Icy possumhaw drupes

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During our wintry weather on January 10th the outdoor temperature rose and fell only within the narrow range of 32°F (0°C) to 34°F (1°C), so the snow was wet and mixed with sleet and drizzle. At the same time that new snowflakes were coming down, some of the earlier precipitation was slowly melting, as confirmed by the photograph above of possumhaw (Ilex decidua) drupes in Great Hills Park. Not all the fruit stayed on the tree; some fell onto iced-over plants below.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 13, 2021 at 4:24 PM

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Fiat lux, fiat nix

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The Latin words “Fiat lux” mean “Let there be light.” Yesterday morning in Austin anyone who’d said instead “Fiat nix,” “Let there be snow,” would have seen that come to pass. I took the photograph above looking out our front window at a yaupon tree (Ilex vomitoria) that the cedar waxwings had left alone.

I ended up spending two hours and then another three hours yesterday documenting our rare snowfall. More pictures will appear in the days ahead.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 11, 2021 at 4:35 AM

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Yummy yaupon

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You may remember the gorgeously fruitful possumhaws (Ilex decidua) that appeared in these pages three weeks ago. After I posted the second of those pictures to Facebook’s Texas Flora group on January 1st, a member commented that cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) had already stripped her possumhaws and yaupons (Ilex vomitoria) of all their little red fruits (berries in common parlance, drupes scientifically). That Texas Flora comment must have gotten picked up and broadcast on radio station KACW* (Kalling All Cedar Waxwings), because within a couple of hours a gang of those birds showed up at our house and gobbled down more than half the fruit on the yaupon tree outside my window. In today’s picture, which was a good photographic way to inaugurate the new year, you’re looking at one of the avian thieves caught in flagrante delicto. The waxwings came back on January 6th and mostly finished the job, so that now I see only a dozen or so spots of red outside my window, where in December hundreds had been.

* After I made up radio station KACW, I discovered that a real one with those call letters exists in South Bend, Washington. It has a greater range than its operators realize.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 9, 2021 at 4:32 AM

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Like an alien moon in the coldness of space

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Buffalo gourd, Cucurbita foetidissima, along Lost Horizon Drive on December 29, 2020.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 8, 2021 at 4:37 AM

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Zipper

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Had I ever seen flanges on the young limbs of cedar elm trees (Ulmus crassifolia)? Sure, it’s a common feature. Had I ever seen a flanged cedar elm limb looking as much like a zipper as the one I encountered in Cedar Breaks Park on Lake Georgetown on December 8th? No, and that’s why I’m featuring it here. The red in the background came from the many little fruits of a possumhaw tree (Ilex decidua).

Did you know that zipper was originally a trade name? You may want to zip over and read about the history of the word and the device itself.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 28, 2020 at 4:36 AM

The holly and the ivy

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Ilex decidua is a native Texas holly known as possumhaw. Where many hollies have prickly leaves and are evergreen, this one has soft leaves that it sheds by the end of the year, as the species name decidua indicates. The falling off of the leaves makes it easier to see the tree’s bright red little fruits, of which there can be multitudes. The photograph above from Bell Mountain Blvd. on December 1st shows a stage at which the leaves had paled and were gradually falling off. Three weeks later we got curious about how this already colorful little group of possumhaws was coming along, so we went back. The second picture shows almost no leaves left, nor had birds or anything else reduced the dense red splendor.

As for the ivy in this post’s title, let me back up to November 15th and add an item to the bright autumn leaves series you’ve been seeing on and off here for weeks: it’s Toxicodendron radicans. You might say that when it comes to colorful small-scale fall foliage, nothing can touch poison ivy.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 25, 2020 at 4:34 AM

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Texas has many things inimical to human skin

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On November 20th I worked my way into the median on E. Howard Lane to photograph some fruit-bearing possumhaws and yaupons (Ilex decidua and vomitoria, respectively). On a couple of the trees I noticed several furry little tan or grey bundles that I later learned aren’t bundles of joy, at least not where human skin is concerned. Fortunately I didn’t touch any of the critters, which bugguide.net has identified as Megalopyge opercularis, known as the southern flannel moth caterpillar, puss caterpillar, asp, and perrito (Spanish for ‘puppy’). The Bugguide entry for this species includes a cautionary note: “Occasionally, in outbreak years, puss caterpillars are sufficiently numerous to defoliate some trees…. However, their main importance is medical. In Texas, they have been so numerous in some years that schools in San Antonio in 1923 and Galveston in 1951 were closed temporarily because of stings to children….” You’re welcome to read a more recent account of envenomations.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 23, 2020 at 4:18 AM

Sumac fruit

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Of the three sumacs native to Austin, here are the fruits of two of them. Above you have evergreen sumac, Rhus virens, from Far West Blvd. on November 3rd. Below you see prairie flameleaf sumac, Rhus lanceolata, from Arterial 8 on November 8th. From these fruits some people make sumac-ade, which I’ve tried and liked.

And here’s a closer look at another cluster:

You might also find it fruitful to check out the the winning photographs from the 2020 Siena International Photo Awards.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 16, 2020 at 4:41 AM

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Snow-on-the-mountain from the ground

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When I say “from the ground” I mean lying on my back on the ground with my 24–105mm lens zoomed out at or near the wide end to play off some gone-to-seed snow-on-the-mountain plants (Euphorbia marginata) against the clear blue sky. As you see, horizontal and vertical compositions are both possible.

I found these plants adjacent to the pond on Discovery Blvd. in Cedar Park on November 18th.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 23, 2020 at 4:33 AM

Peppervine turning colors

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As another example of fall foliage in Austin, above is a view from the afternoon of November 10th showing a peppervine (Nekemias arborea) turning colors on a black willow tree (Salix nigra) that it had climbed at the Riata Trace Pond. The next morning I went back and took pictures by different light of another peppervine that had turned even more colorful, as shown below. About halfway up the left edge of the second picture you may notice some of the vine’s little fruits that had darkened as they ripened. Peppervine, which some people mistake for poison ivy, grows in the southeastern United States. If you’d like a closer look at the vine’s leaves, you can check out a post from the first months of this blog.

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as publick Liberty, without Freedom of Speech; which is the Right of every Man, as far as by it, he does not hurt or controul the Right of another: and this is the only Check it ought to suffer, and the only Bounds it ought to know. / This sacred Privilege is so essential to free Governments, that the Security of Property, and the Freedom of Speech always go together; and in those wretched Countries where a man cannot call his Tongue his own, he can scarce call any Thing else his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” — Benjamin Franklin (synthesizing other people’s thoughts), 1722.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 22, 2020 at 4:38 AM

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