Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘leaves

Green, green, and more green

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Wandering along Bull Creek on June 25, 2019, I couldn’t help noticing the dense swirls created by the very long linear leaves of some plants (sedges? beargrass?) that had found a home on the sometimes flooded bank of the creek. Mixed in were a few remnants of the wild onions (Allium canadense var. canadense) you saw here in May of that year. New giant ragweed plants (Ambrosia trifida) were coming up in some of the swirls:

I prepared this post almost two years ago but other things soon intervened that seemed more important to show. Last year I happened to end up at this place again and took more pictures. Now here we are another year later and I’m finally going to release the original post, but with an added green picture from my 2020 visit that shows a dewdrop-decked wild onion bud:


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And here are some can-do words from Zora Neale Hurston: “It seems to me that if I say a whole system must be upset for me to win, I am saying that I cannot sit in the game, and that safer rules must be made to give me a chance. I repudiate that. If others are in there, deal me a hand and let me see what I can make of it, even though I know some in there are dealing from the bottom and cheating like hell in other ways.”

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 25, 2021 at 4:31 AM

Our majestic cottonwood trees

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On December 21st, the date of the winter solstice in 2020, I witnessed another display of colorful year-end foliage in the form of two venerable eastern cottonwoods, Populus deltoides subsp. deltoides. Botanist Bill Carr describes the cottonwood tree in Travis County as “uncommon but, due to its massive size, usually conspicuous in gallery woodlands along perennial streams and impoundments.” The two I found were on opposite sides of Pleasant Valley Rd. just south of the Longhorn Dam on the Colorado River. The first picture shows a lower portion of the cottonwood tree on the west side of the road. The other cottonwood, pictured below, had leaves that the different angle of the light made look a little more yellow-orange.

It’s not obvious that some of the leaves were larger than
a person’s face; here’s one in isolation by the Colorado River:

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 2, 2021 at 4:35 AM

More Texas red oak

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Among the last displays of colorful fall foliage in Austin each year is that of the Texas red oak, Quercus buckleyi, as seen here from Great Hills Park on December 15th. (The oaks are young and slender; the large trunks are from other kinds of trees.) Now it’s two weeks later and I’m still finding some red Texas red oak leaves, including a few in our back yard.

Sensorily and psychologically it seems that red is the most fundamental color, and it’s a truism of linguistics that the first color word a language creates is the one for red. The Indo-European language root representing the color red has been reconstructed as *reudh-, which is still recognizable thousands of years later in native English red and ruddy. Red-related words English has acquired directly or indirectly from Latin, which is a cousin of English, include rufous, rubeola, ruby, rubidium, rubicund, rubefacient, rubella, robust, rouge, roux, and russet. (If you’re puzzled about robust, it’s based on Latin rōbur, which designated a type of red oak tree; robust conveys the strength of that tree rather than its color.) From Greek, also a relative of English, comes the erythro– in technical terms like erythrocyte and erythromycin.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 30, 2020 at 4:39 AM

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Late-in-the-year scenes along Brushy Creek

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On December 17th we walked a section of Brushy Creek in far north Austin that was new to us. In the first picture you see how the slender leaves of a black willow tree (Salix nigra) had turned yellow and fallen onto the creek’s surface next to a colony of cattail plants (Typha domingensis), some fresh and others dried out. Nearby it was dead cattails that did the falling:

The image below shows dry goldenrod plants (Solidago sp.)
on the creek bank by dense tangles of vines and now-bare branches.

If you’re interested in the art and craft of photography, point 15 in About My Techniques pertains to all three of the pictures in today’s post. And if you’d like to go off on a bit of a maximalist tangent, you can check out Victorian interiors and certain modern décor.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 29, 2020 at 4:41 AM

When red becomes orange

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Another reliable source of colorful fall foliage in central Texas is the small tree known as rusty blackhaw, Viburnum rufidulum, whose species name means ‘reddish.’ You see it exemplified in the photograph above, taken in Great Hills Park on December 15th. As a reddish color came over those leaves, curiosity came over me, and I wondered what sort of pictures might be possible from behind the tree looking in the opposite direction. Cautiously I worked my way in there and got low to aim partly upward. From the other side the leaves looked more orange due to the sunlight shining through them and perhaps the blue sky beyond:

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 17, 2020 at 4:43 AM

Red does its thing

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Around 3:15 yesterday afternoon I lay on my back at the edge of a parking lot behind an office building along the Capital of Texas Highway. I did that so I could aim upward to record the view against a bright blue sky of an oak tree whose leaves had turned red. Because the leaves were richly red, the tree might well have been Quercus buckleyi, known understandably as the Texas red oak.

As recent posts have shown, we’ve still been getting various fall colors down here, even as the temperature when I took yesterday’s picture had climbed to 78°F (26°C).

Have you heard about the enormous catalogue of the world’s plants compiled in Leipzig, Germany?

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 11, 2020 at 4:34 AM

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Green and orange in the fall

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The leaves of the black willow (Salix nigra) tend to turn yellow in the fall, as you recently saw. On November 26th at the Southeast Metropolitan Park in Del Valle I was pleased to find several of those trees with some of their leaves taking on orange hues. Notice the fuzzy goldenrod (Solidago sp.) seed heads in both pictures.

And if you’ll allow orange to shade toward tan and brown, then how about this long colony of slenderpod sesbania (Sesbania herbacea) stretched out along the edge of another pond at the site? The trees lined up parallel to them are paloverdes (Parkinsonia aculeata).

Here’s a closer look at the thorny green from the opposite side:

If you’d like some quotations about the color orange, you can find them in The Quote Garden.

The history of the word orange is also interesting.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 10, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Sycamore Saturday

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The late afternoon of December 2nd found us wandering the south bank of Brushy Creek just west of the eponymous round rock in Round Rock. There I photographed some sycamore trees (Platanus occidentalis) with leaves turning yellow and even orange. Backlighting enhanced the colors in the top portrait, while ripples on the surface of the creek made the reflections of another sycamore quite abstract.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 5, 2020 at 4:30 AM

Cedar elms turning yellow

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A reliable source of autumnal yellow in Austin is the cedar elm tree, Ulmus crassifolia. In the picture above, taken around 4 in the afternoon on November 9th at the Arboretum shopping center, you see some cedar elms whose leaves picked up extra color saturation from the strong backlighting the late-afternoon sun provided. The previous day in Austin’s Jester neighborhood I’d photographed another yellow cedar elm:

I’d also recorded the way a cedar elm’s yellow contrasted with the red
of the flameleaf sumacs (Rhus lanceolata) surrounding it:

As no one has offered a solution to yesterday’s poser, I’ll let it ride at least one more day. The question is what all the following English words have in common beyond the fact that in each of them a vowel letter and a consonant letter alternate.

HIS, SORE, AMEN, PAN, AWE, EMIT, SON, TOWER, HAS, LAX, TOMATO, FAT, SOME, DONOR.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 28, 2020 at 4:36 AM

Closer looks at flameleaf sumac’s colorful fall foliage

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⇧ Arterial 8, November 8

⇧ Seton Center Drive, November 15

⇧ Cedar Park, November 18

Rhus lanceolata is the most colorful of the three native sumacs in the Austin area.
Backlighting enhanced those colors in all three pictures.

In the relevant quotation department we have this interchange from Albert Camus’s 1944 play Le malentendu, The Misunderstanding:

Martha: Qu’est-ce que l’automne?
Jan: Un deuxième printemps, où toutes les feuilles sont comme des fleurs.

Martha: “What is autumn?”
Jan: A second spring, when all the leaves are like flowers.

Versions floating around on the Internet glom the question and answer together into a single declarative sentence. Here you get no glomming, only the original.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 24, 2020 at 4:26 AM

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