Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘hair


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Snake-Cotton Turned Cottony 2030

Okay, so you didn’t get cottony water yesterday, but here’s some snake-cotton, Froelichia gracilis. When I photographed a small group of these on August 7th in the fringe of Great Hills Park near the Taylor Draper entrance, it was the first time I’d ever found this species in Austin, much less my neighborhood, so I was happily surprised. Before then, the few times I’d found snake-cotton I was a bit east of Austin, near Bastrop. In preparing this post I was further surprised to learn that this species grows across much of the United States, as you can confirm on the USDA map. One more thing: I believe this is the first member of the amaranth botanical family ever to appear here.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 15, 2014 at 5:57 AM

The lot along US 183: a fifth look back

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Ant on Sunflower Plant 2843A

For the last few days I’ve been showing pictures taken at a now-razed property on the east side of US 183 adjacent to the Wendy’s and Costco in my northwest Austin neighborhood. Here’s yet another photograph from yesteryear, or more specifically June 22, 2011. This ant had a better fate—at least up to the time of the photograph, and I can’t vouch for afterwards—than two that I found entombed in resin on this property a few weeks later, on July 17 of 2011. The common sunflower, Helianthus annuus, is one hairy plant, as this picture confirms and as you probably knew already.

This will be the last picture in the retrospective, just as sunflowers were the last holdout on the construction site.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 28, 2013 at 6:16 AM

Drying sunflower stalk

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As I’ve said repeatedly in this blog, the uncommon “common” sunflower, Helianthus annuus, is one of my favorite local species. That’s a good thing, because at least some sunflower plants can usually be found flowering in central Texas from late May through October or even November, fully half the year. But it isn’t just the famous flowers that grab me; I’m fascinated by all the plant’s parts. Here you see a close-up of its conspicuously hairy stalk as it begins to fade. Note the baby leaves at the lower left that have dried out and turned white before they’ve had a chance to mature.

I took this photograph on August 29 at Austin’s Elisabet Ney Museum, whose grounds are being restored to a native prairie. As has been true all week, today’s picture is one of twelve that are currently on display at the museum.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 29, 2011 at 5:53 AM

It seems a metalsmith was here before Rembrandt

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Close view of the decomposing head of a Texas thistle; click for more detail.

Yesterday’s dark-toned photograph showed the head of a Texas thistle, Cirsium texanum, when it begins to come apart. Today’s picture is a closer view of the purposeful chaos inside a decomposing thistle seed head. Botanists use the term pappus to describe the tuft of hairs attached to each seed of a thistle (and other plants), and they use the adjective plumose to describe the feathery appearance of such a tuft. Plumose the tufts may be, but the structure that supports them looks man-made and metallic as it gleams in the sunlight.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Sunflower’s New Leaves

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June is the prime month for sunflowers, and in spite of the severe drought in Texas they’re abundant here this year. A couple of weeks ago the plants were just beginning to flower, and I spent time photographing a field of them on the prairie in northeast Austin. Although I’ve seen and photographed sunflower buds many times before, somehow I’d never paid attention to the new leaves that surround the buds. To give you a sense of scale, let me point out that the leaf shown here was only about an inch long. The hairiness of sunflowers that has long fascinated me is even more in evidence here than on the plant’s stalks.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

(Here is information about Helianthus annuus, including a clickable map showing where the species grows.)

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 6, 2011 at 12:07 PM

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