Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘native plants

Virginia creeper creeping colorfully upward

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Long-time readers have heard me say, and central Texans don’t need me to tell them, that this area doesn’t have a lot of appealing fall foliage. One exception is Parthenocissus quinquefolia, a climbing vine known as Virginia creeper or, to keep the glory from going to another state, five-leaf creeper. On December 1st I was driving south on US 183 in Cedar Park, an adjacent suburb north of Austin, when I glimpsed a vertical band of red ahead and to my right. I knew right away that it had to be Virginia creeper, and I made sure to stop and photograph this unusually good display of it.

As is almost always the case along a main road in a populated area, I had to work at getting myself into positions—typically low ones—where I could exclude poles, power lines, stores, signs, vehicles, non-native trees, and other unwanted things from my pictures.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 16, 2017 at 4:49 PM

White

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Only once every so many years does Austin get a little snow. The night from December 7th into December 8th was one of those onces. Yesterday morning I headed down to Great Hills Park, thinking the frostweed plants (Verbesina virginica) at the edge of the woods on the south side of Floral Park Dr. might have done their ice trick. They hadn’t. Nevertheless, their large leaves were appealingly covered with snow, and so were the narrower leaves of the inland sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) that formed a colony around the frostweed.

Clematis drummondi, a vine that has no qualms about covering other plants, found itself covered for a change.

Not everything appeared so subdued in color. The fruits of the yaupon tree (Ilex vomitoria) were hard to miss.

I made my first picture at 7:25. By around 9:00, the sun had gotten high enough in a clear sky that warming patches of light increasingly reached the snow.

Within a few hours, all but the most recondite snow had melted.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 9, 2017 at 4:42 AM

Ladies’ tresses and queen’s delight

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Yesterday morning I got my annual wake-up call in the form of an e-mail from Meg Inglis alerting me that the Great Plains ladies’ tresses orchids (Spiranthes magnicamporum) in her area to the west of Austin were flowering. Within a couple of hours I went to a place in my part of town that has been reliable for that species, and sure enough, I found some orchids that were doing their thing. In other years I’ve shown you ladies’ tresses in isolation, so this year for variety I’m giving you a picture of an orchid I found yesterday touching a plant called queen’s delight (Stillingia texana).

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 22, 2017 at 4:56 AM

Western wild rose

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How about this flower I found on a western wild rose bush (Rosa woodsii) near the top of Scott’s Bluff National Monument in far western Nebraska on May 29th?

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 22, 2017 at 4:51 AM

New Zealand: two plants to ward off scurvy

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On the grounds surrounding the museum in Russell on February 10th I found various cultivated native plants, along with little signs that identified some of them. The one shown above is Apium prostratum subsp. prostratum var. filiforme (yikes!), known in Māori as tutae koau and in English as shore celery and New Zealand celery. The one shown below is Lepidium oleraceum, called nau in Māori and Cooks [sic] scurvy grass in English. British sailors ate both of them to ward off scurvy, as the last link and another explain in more detail; in fact those plants were the first two ever gathered for food by Europeans in New Zealand.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 23, 2017 at 4:56 AM

New Zealand: flax

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Along with ferns, the other practically ubiquitous type of native plant one sees in New Zealand is flax. At least that’s what the British called it after they arrived and found the Māori using the fibers of the plant to make cloth, just as the Europeans used flax to make linen. The Māori call these members of the lily family harakeke, the most common species of which is Phormium tenax.

On February 12, after driving a few minutes west from the site where I took the picture of sand dunes that you saw last time (and you can still see them in the background this time), I came to the Arai-Te-Uru Recreation Reserve, where I was able to portray these New Zealand flax plants in the stage after they’ve produced and shed seeds.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 31, 2017 at 4:48 AM

New Zealand: pīngao

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On February 13th we visited the Puheke Reserve on the northern shore of the Karikari Peninsula in the Northland region of New Zealand. My attention was soon drawn to a plant that on the whole grew toward the sea even as individual tufts tended to curl back in the opposite direction. The best I can tell, the plant is pīngao, a sedge that botanists classify as Ficinia spiralis. It’s endemic to New Zealand but animal grazing and the spread of a non-native grass have continued to curtail this sedge’s historical range.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 23, 2017 at 4:43 AM

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