Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘grass

Sandbur doing its thing

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While some might say the droplets of dew on this sandbur soften the image, no amount of dew can soften the pain if Cenchrus spinifex‘s barbs get into your skin, which they have an uncanny predilection for doing. As Jim Conrad explains, this grass is “abundantly armored with stiff, very sharp spines which themselves are mantled with minute, backward-pointing spines. When a sandbur punctures your skin, because of those backward-pointing spines, pulling it out becomes a miserable experience. If you’re not thinking, when you realize the bur is resisting being pulled out, you squeeze it harder to get a better grip, and end up with stuck fingers, and with those backward-pointing spines on the spines, there’s simply no nice way of getting unstuck.”

I took this picture near the Sierra Nevada entrance to Great Hills Park on June 25th. I’ve had to deal with sandburs in several other places since then.

Unrelated thought for today: “Any maniac can kindle a conflagration, but it requires many wise men to put it out.” — Charles MacKay in Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, first published in 1841.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 1, 2020 at 4:44 AM

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Two takes on gulf muhly

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The decorative grass classified botanically as Muhlenbergia capillaris goes by the common names gulf muhly, pink muhly, and hair grass. The last time it appeared in these pages was four years ago. Because 4 is 2 times 2 as well as 2 plus 2 and also 2 to the power 2, and because mathematics is abstract, here are two abstract views of gulf muhly taken outside the Cedar Park Recreation Center on November 18th. The plant in the second, though still, appears to be blowing; thus did the genie in my camera make the static dynamic.

Muhly is short for Muhlenbergia, whose origin the website of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center explains this way: “The genus of this plant is named for Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg (1753-1815), also Heinrich Ludwig Muehlenberg, or Henry Muhlenberg, who was a German-educated Lutheran minister and the first president of Franklin College, now Franklin and Marshall College, Pennsylvania. He is most famous due to his work in the field of botany. An accomplished botanist, chemist, and mineralogist, Henry is credited with classifying and naming 150 species of plants in his 1785 work Index Flora Lancastriensis. Muhlenberg’s work and collaboration with European botanists led to great advances in the study of plants and earned him the distinction as America’s first outstanding botanist.”

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 28, 2019 at 4:42 AM

Giant bristlegrass

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Near where we first parked at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge on October 6th was some giant bristlegrass, Setaria magna. I scrunched and strained to get into a position from which I could play the seed head off against the cumulus clouds overhead. The result shown here strikes me as an emblem—of what, I can’t say, though the cloud nebulously recalls the shape of Antarctica.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 1, 2019 at 4:50 AM

Navarre Beach

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On the way from Atlanta to Mobile on August 9th we deviated from the most direct route to stop at Navarre Beach on the Gulf of Mexico in the Florida Panhandle. The dark clouds beyond the sea oats (Uniola paniculata) foreshadowed the downpour that hit us west of Pensacola an hour or so later.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 10, 2019 at 4:45 AM

Prairie bishop writ large

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The Blackland Prairie on the west side of Heatherwilde Blvd. north of Wells Branch Parkway looked so good on May 9th that I went back three days later and once again took a slew of pictures. The star in many of them was Bifora americana, called prairie bishop or prairie bishop’s weed. Hardly a weed it is, and having a great spring it is, too. Also prominent in the first photograph: square-bud primroses, Oenothera capillifolia; firewheels, Gaillardia pulchella; prairie parsley, Polytaenia nuttallii.

The upright dark stalks in the second image are drying Indian paintbrushes, Castilleja indivisa, some red flowers of which you also see approaching the end of their reign.

These three pictures show the Blackland Prairie’s version of snow in May.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 14, 2019 at 4:53 PM

Downstream

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Downstream from the places you saw a couple of posts ago, the main creek flows out of Great Hills Park
and wanders through a golf course. Near Rain Creek Parkway, that stretch of the creek is bordered
by switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), which by January 25th had done a pretty job of drying out.

Here’s a closer view of the switchgrass on the other side of the creek.

Across the road some sycamores (Platanus occidentalis)
also wore their winter look. Notice the many hanging seed globes.

When I drove past there yesterday I found that all the switchgrass
on both sides of the creek had just been cut back to the ground.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 7, 2019 at 4:05 AM

Dewdrops on spiderwebs on silver bluestem seed head remains

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Click for better clarity.

West of Morado Circle this past Christmas morning.
Silver bluestem = Bothriochloa laguroides subsp. torreyana.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 21, 2019 at 4:27 AM

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More from Doeskin Ranch

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The seed heads of little bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium) that played a supporting role in the prior post’s second photograph from the Doeskin Ranch on November 24th last fall were so densely yummy that I feel I owe you a picture of them in their own right:

Near an isolated little bluestem I found a milkweed pod (Asclepias spp.) releasing its silk-attached seeds. Notice the bright red-orange nymph, presumably of a milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus).

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 13, 2019 at 4:30 AM

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Arc, the here-old grasses swing

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In addition to the bushy bluestem grass that’s a delight here in the fall, little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) also has its autumn appeal. On the afternoon of December 1st I stopped at an undeveloped lot on the corner of Heatherwilde Blvd. and Yellow Sage St. in Pflugerville to photograph the backlit clump of little bluestem you see above. The wind kept blowing the normally upright stalks into arcs that I was able to record unblurred before they sprang back up by setting my camera’s shutter speed to 1/1000 of a second.

Five days earlier I’d gotten down in a ditch along Spicewood Springs Rd. so I could aim up into a clear blue sky while also portraying some little bluestem seed heads forming arcs in the breeze. That time 1/500 of a second sufficed. If you’re reminded of Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa, so am I.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 19, 2018 at 4:45 AM

Return to Meadow Lake Park

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On November 15th I returned to Meadow Lake Park in Round Rock to see what the morning light could do for the large stands of bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus) that had caught my eye there but that I hadn’t photographed during my afternoon visit 11 days earlier. This is the showiest of the native grasses I regularly see in central Texas as the end of each year approaches. And speaking of native, that’s what this grass is on damp or wet ground in parts of many American states, as you can confirm on the USDA map (use the slider there to zoom in to the county level).

In the first photograph the light came mostly from in front of the camera,
and in the second photograph mostly from behind the camera.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 29, 2018 at 4:29 PM

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