Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘native plants

Closer looks at Spanish moss

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You’ve seen how Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) festooned the trees at Palmetto State Park on January 29th. Now here are two closer looks. In the top one the Spanish moss was still hanging from a tree, while in the bottom picture some had fallen onto a dry palmetto leaf (Sabal minor).

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “The past is a different country. They do things differently there.” — Leslie Poles Hartley, The Go-Between, 1953. (Wikipedia notes that the opening sentence “had first been used by Hartley’s friend Lord David Cecil in his inaugural lecture as Goldsmiths’ Professor in 1949.” And I’ll note that the Wikipedia article put the apostrophe in the wrong place in Goldsmiths’ Professor; I’ve corrected the mistake in citing the previous sentence.)

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 12, 2021 at 4:38 AM

Palmetto State Park

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Although this picture from January 29th may make you think we went to Florida’s Everglades or some other tropical place, we drove just 70 road miles south of home, to Palmetto State Park, which might as well be a different world. The park is named for a stand of palmettos, Sabal minor, one of only two palm species native to Texas (the other is full-sized and lives at the southern tip of the state). The Ottine Swamp supports the palmettos and also fosters copious amounts of Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides, which were especially conspicuous now that the trees were winter-bare.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 5, 2021 at 4:45 AM

An ice cap is a nice cap

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Behold a cap of sleet on the seed head remains of a horsemint
(Monarda citriodora) in Great Hills Park on January 10th.

And here’s a quotation relevant to the current freezing out by some large technology companies of opinions and even facts that they don’t like: “He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion.” — John Stuart Mill, “On Liberty,” 1859.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 24, 2021 at 4:35 AM

A seeping cliff, a shrine, a medallion

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The cliff on the west side of the Capital of Texas Highway just south of FM 2222 seeps water, especially in the days after rain. The picture above shows how a section of the cliff looked on January 2nd after we’d had rain a few days earlier; I’d say you’re looking at a height of about 20 ft. (6m) here. In one place on the face of the cliff some southern maidenhair ferns (Adiantum capillus-veneris) adorned a small natural shrine whose not deep but deep-shadowed interior a flash provided visual admission to. Notice how a few drops of water, inviters and sustainers of ferns, hung from the little grotto’s upper lip

Elsewhere the same kind of ferns made up part of a large medallion. The many darkened ferns testify to the previous period of several months when we’d had almost no rain.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 19, 2021 at 4:39 AM

Bulrushes in the snow

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Schoenoplectus californicus; Northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183; January 10th.

And here’s a closer look:

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 17, 2021 at 4:36 AM

Stark versus soft

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From the new Lakewood Park in Leander on November 10th come contrasting views. Above, sunrays broke through dramatic clouds over the park’s lake. Below is a portrait of poverty weed (Baccharis neglecta) as its fluff came loose. The soft chaos is similar to that of a thistle at the same stage of development; both plants are members of the sunflower family, after all.

Also softly chaotic and a member of Asteraceae is the seed head of this aster (Symphyotricum sp.) on a stalk conjoined to that of an opening bud; note the tight curling of the emerging rays.

You’ll find pertinent quotations illustrating some of the many meanings of the word soft in the 1913 Webster’s Dictionary.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 4, 2020 at 4:32 AM

Twi-light, yet not twilight

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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

Snow-on-the-mountain from the ground

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When I say “from the ground” I mean lying on my back on the ground with my 24–105mm lens zoomed out at or near the wide end to play off some gone-to-seed snow-on-the-mountain plants (Euphorbia marginata) against the clear blue sky. As you see, horizontal and vertical compositions are both possible.

I found these plants adjacent to the pond on Discovery Blvd. in Cedar Park on November 18th.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 23, 2020 at 4:33 AM

Slenderpod sesbania

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I made this more-is-more portrait of drying-out Sesbania herbacea plants in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183 on November 1st. Because this species grows in many places, it has accumulated a bunch of common names: slenderpod sesbania, hemp sesbania, coffee-bean, danglepod, coffeeweed, Colorado River-hemp, and peatree sesbania. The photograph confirms that the first of those names is accurate; the pods really are slender, measuring 10–20 cm in length but only 3–4 mm in width.

One of the plants was conspicuously fasciated, as you see in the second picture.
You might also say it was having a bad-hair day.

And here’s an unrelated thought for today (with the original spelling and capitalization): “we have spent the prime of our lives in procuring them the precious blessing of liberty. let them spend theirs in shewing that it is the great parent of science & of virtue; and that a nation will be great in both always in proportion as it is free.” — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Willard, 1789.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 16, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Joshua Tree National Park

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Where else to find Joshua trees than Joshua Tree National Park in southeastern California?

The park and the Mojave Desert welcomed us four years ago today, though actually we’d seen our first Joshua trees two weeks earlier in Nevada, and then in Barstow.

These “trees” aren’t truly trees at all, but members of the yucca family, Yucca brevifolia. Yuccas are members of Agavoideae, which isn’t so surprising, but that group is a part of the asparagus family, a fact that does surprise most people. Not all is as it seems, is it?

And how about finding a nest in one of the Joshua trees? Thanks to the staff at Joshua Tree National Park for telling me that the maker of the nest is most likely a ladder-backed woodpecker, Picoides scalaris.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 5, 2020 at 4:38 AM

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