Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘grass

Twi-light, yet not twilight

with 25 comments

On the morning of November 15th I spent a good couple of hours in a field on the north side of US 290 east of Bois d’Arc Rd. in Manor. Making that piece of prairie fabulous to behold and photograph were the extensive colonies of goldenrod (Solidago sp.) and bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus) that had gone into their fluffy autumn stage. In some places the two colonies were mostly distinct; in others they interwove, as you see here. Notice in the lower right of the top picture that one goldenrod plant was still flowering.

The post’s title interweaves etymology and photography. The word twilight means literally ‘two lights,’ the two being the fading light of day and the oncoming darkness of night. I took these two pictures not in different parts of the day—they were only seven minutes apart—but in different parts of the field and, more importantly, facing in opposite directions. The first photograph shows the effects of the morning sunlight falling directly on the subject; the second picture looks in the direction of the sun, whose light on the way to the camera passed through much of the fluff and in so doing outlined the seed heads. The first landscape is softer and more colorful, the second starker and more dramatic. Both have their appeal.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 25, 2020 at 4:32 AM

Little bluestem in front of gayfeather flowers

with 21 comments

You’ve already had two posts from September 15th along FM 2769 in far northwest Austin showing Liatris punctata, known as gayfeather and blazing-star. In one you saw normal purple flowers, and in the other white flowers. In today’s photograph the gayfeather plays a supporting role (though colorfully a dominant one) behind a stalk of little bluestem grass, Schizachyrium scoparium, a part of which had turned brown in anticipation of approaching autumn.

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “When a theory really has got your brain in its grip, contradictory evidence—even evidence you already know—sometimes becomes invisible.” — Jordan Ellenberg, How Not to Be Wrong.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 7, 2020 at 4:44 AM

Sandbur doing its thing

with 30 comments

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

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , ,

Two takes on gulf muhly

with 29 comments

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

with 28 comments

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

with 49 comments

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

with 22 comments

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

with 32 comments

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

with 37 comments

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

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , ,

More from Doeskin Ranch

with 37 comments

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

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

%d bloggers like this: