Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘native plant

What is this?

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I’m guessing you’ll have no idea what this is. If you’re up for a challenge, pause for a bit to contemplate the photograph and try to figure out what you’re seeing, then continue reading below for an explanation. Of course you’re welcome to tell us what you imagined this abstract picture shows.

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On April 25th I found that some rain-lilies (Zephyranthes drummondii) in my neighborhood had gotten well past the flowering stage and had produced seed capsules, so I set about photographing a few of them. Rain-lily leaves are typically only a third of an inch wide yet can grow to 12 inches long. Given those dimensions, the leaves usually end up lying on the ground, but I noticed that one rain-lily leaf had draped itself over a prickly pear cactus pad, with the result that the leaf’s distal portion was suspended in the air. I conceived the idea of taking pictures tip-on, so to speak, even as a bit of breeze complicated my task by causing the leaf to move somewhat. This minimalist portrait with almost nothing in focus is one result of my experiments. Prickly pear cactus buds on an adjacent pad became the orange orbs you see at the lower right.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 5, 2021 at 4:41 AM

Powdery alligator flag leaves

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When I was out photographing powdery alligator flag flowers (Thalia dealbata) at the River Ranch pond on August 10th, I noticed bright red not only at the base of the inflorescence sheath but also on the stalk at the base of each leaf. You see that in the first picture, which also shows a purple bindweed (Ipomoea cordatotriloba) vine that had twined around the stalk.

I couldn’t help noticing that when the leaves in this species dry out they curl and fold in ways that have photographic appeal. I made several kinds of abstract portraits of them, two of which you see here.

And here’s a quotation for today: “On n’est jamais si heureux ni si malheureux qu’on s’imagine.” “We’re never as happy or as unhappy as we imagine.” — François de la Rochefoucauld, Maximes.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 4, 2020 at 4:40 AM

I cotton to snake cotton

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I rarely come across snake cotton (Froelichia gracilis), so I got excited on August 2nd when I discovered a colony of it in a dry sump at the edge of Great Hills Park. On one of the snake cotton plants I noticed spiderwebs and soon saw the spider. Below is the picture I took of it using daytime flash and a small aperture; that combination gives the impression of dusk rather than broad daylight.

Then on August 14th out beyond Bastrop I found a few stalks of snake cotton
and was able to get a picture showing one of the plant’s small and inconspicuous flowers:

Here’s an unrelated quotation for today:
“Qui grate beneficium accipit primam eius pensionem solvit.”
“Anyone who receives a benefit with gratitude repays the first installment of it.”
Here’s an alternate translation (I wanted to make it sound more colloquial):
“If you accept a favor with gratitude you’ll repay the first installment on what you owe.”
Seneca the Younger in De Beneficiis (On Benefits).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 28, 2020 at 4:32 AM

Velvet gaura backlit

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Velvet gaura (Oenothera curtiflora) is indeed velvety, and never is that more noticeable than when the plant is backlit by a sun not far above the horizon. So stood the sun and even lower stood I at 7:16 in the morning on September 3rd. The location was the Blackland Prairie just east of Lake Pflugerville.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 16, 2019 at 4:45 AM

Horseweed

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Even though horseweed is one of the most widely distributed native plants in North America, it seldom if ever gets its praises sung. With that in mind, let me at least do some humming in favor of Conyza canadensis. Below you get a closer look at the seemingly energetic way the leaves on the main stalk dry out.

For temporal balance, have a look at those leaves on a fresh plant:

And here’s a closer look at a maturing inflorescence:

All these pictures come from the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin on August 24th.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 12, 2019 at 4:08 AM

Time again to say that spring has sprung

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Yesterday morning’s weather forecast predicted that by afternoon the temperature would go above 80°F, so before it got too hot we went over to the Southwest Greenway at the Mueller development in east-central Austin, where we confirmed that spring had indeed arrived. One token of that was some agarita bushes (Mahonia trifoliolata) flowering away, as you see in a broad horizontal view above and in a closer upward view in the following photograph.

The Mueller development occupies the site of the old Austin airport that closed in 1999. It’s likely that at least some of the wispy clouds we saw yesterday coincidentally came from diffused airplane contrails, so I’ve decided to follow that theme and add a non-botanical photograph from the Southwest Greenway: it shows Chris Levack’s “Wigwam.” Six years ago I semi-broke botanical ranks and showed his adjacent “Pollen Grain” sculpture.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 16, 2019 at 4:44 AM

Engelmann daisy leaf

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One thing that distinguishes the Engelmann daisy, Engelmannia peristenia, from so many other yellow daisies is the plant’s leaves, both in their lobed shape and in their fuzzy texture. I photographed this backlit Engelmann daisy leaf on the vanishing prairie in Round Rock on April 8th.

Here it is a month later and I’m still seeing Engelmann daisies around Austin.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 9, 2018 at 4:48 AM

Wild garlic buds opening

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Allium drummondii between Arboretum Blvd. and Loop 360 on March 14.

Point 4 in About My Techniques is relevant to today’s photograph.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 25, 2017 at 5:04 AM

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