Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘native plants

Whorled milkweed

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How convenient for a photographer: growing right at the edge of the path we walked on in Bastrop State Park on June 6th were some flowers whose structure yelled out “Milkweed!” Not recognizing the species, I later looked in Michael Eason’s Wildflowers of Texas, which led me to conclude the plant was whorled milkweed, Asclepias verticillata. Below is a closeup showing a developing seed pod, beyond which you can again make out the characteristic color of the iron-rich earth in Bastrop.

While preparing this post I realized that five years ago I showed a picture of a milkweed in New Mexico with a slightly different scientific name, Asclepias subverticillata.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 18, 2019 at 4:49 PM

Rhodora

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A year ago today we stopped along U.S. 1 near Whiting, Maine, so I could photograph the pleasant scene shown here. Margaret Scheid of the National Park Service told me she’s 85% confident the plants are Rhododendron canadense, known as rhodora.

Years before I’d ever seen this kind of plant, I knew the great poem to which Ralph Waldo Emerson gave that title, and which I’ve copied below.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

 

The Rhodora

On Being Asked, Whence Is the Flower?

In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
The purple petals, fallen in the pool
Made the black water with their beauty gay;
Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,
And court the flower that cheapens his array.
Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,
Then Beauty is its own excuse for being:
Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!
I never thought to ask, I never knew:
But, in my simple ignorance, suppose
The self-same Power that brought me there brought you.

 

If you’d like, you can have more information about the poem.

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 8, 2019 at 4:44 AM

Wild onions along Bull Creek

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The last post brought you a picture of a long-jawed orbweaver spider on the stalk of a wild onion, Allium canadense var. canadense, along Bull Creek on April 26th. It occurred to me that I should show you one of the flowering wild onion plants in its own right. How about that looping greenery?

Wild onion leaves are even more elongated than long-jawed orbweaver spiders: hardly wider than a quarter of an inch (7mm) yet as long as 18 inches (46 cm). Below is an abstract take on one of those linear leaves that had yellowed and browned. I don’t remember, may never have known, what created the faint orb below the leaf’s tip. Whatever it was, we can see it as a planet floating in the deep blue and black of cosmic night.

 

And now Pascal, the thinker, the mathematician, comes to mind: “Le silence éternel des ces espaces infinis m’effraie.” “The eternal silence of those infinite spaces frightens me.” That famous line is at the end of this passage from his Pensées, his Thoughts:

 

“Quand je considère la petite durée de la vie, absorbée dans l’éternité précédente et suivante, le petit espace que je remplis, et même que je vois, abîmé dans l’infinie immensité des espaces que j’ignore et qui m’ignorent, je m’effraie et m’étonne de me voir ici plutôt que là, pourquoi à présent plutôt que lors. Qui m’y a mis? Par l’ordre et la conduite de qui ce lieu et ce temps a-t-il été destiné à moi? Memoria hospitis unius diei praetereuntis.

“Pourquoi ma connaissance est-elle bornée? Ma taille? Ma durée à cent ans plutôt qu’à mille ? Quelle raison a eue la nature de me la donner telle, et de choisir ce nombre plutôt qu’un autre, dans l’infinité desquels il n’y a pas plus de raison de choisir l’un que l’autre, rien ne tentant plus que l’autre?

“Combien de royaumes nous ignorent!

“Le silence éternel de ces espaces infinis m’effraie.”

 

“When I consider the shortness of a lifetime, absorbed as it is into the eternity that comes before it and the one that comes after it, the tiny space I take up, and yet that I can see, lost in the infinite immensity of those spaces I know nothing about and that know nothing about me, then I get frightened and bewildered at finding myself here rather than there, and I wonder why now and not some other time. Who put me here? By whose order and whose actions was this place and time destined for me? Memoria hospitis unius diei praetereuntis. (Pascal is quoting from The Book of Wisdom: “The remembrance of a guest of a single day that passes away.”)

“Why is my consciousness limited? My size? The length of my life a hundred years rather than a thousand? What was nature’s reason for making my life like this, and for choosing this number instead of another one, in the infinity of numbers for which there’s no reason to pick one over another, given that none has any more appeal than any other?

“How many realms know nothing about us!”

“The eternal silence of those infinite spaces frightens me.”

 

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 25, 2019 at 4:40 AM

Annual pennyroyal could just as well be called annual lemonyroyal

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Hedeoma acinoides, known as annual pennyroyal, could just as well be called annual lemonyroyal because the plant’s foliage has a pronounced scent similar to that of lemons. Whether at least some of the same chemicals that account for that aroma in lemons are at work in this pennyroyal species, I don’t know. I do know that this photograph is from April 12th along the right-of-way west of Morado Circle. If you’d like a closer look at one of these diminutive flowers, which barely reach half an inch in length, you can have one.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 4, 2019 at 4:44 AM

Less than a full puff of silverpuff

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Above is a chiaroscuro portrait showing less than a full puff of silverpuff (Chaptalia texana) in the heavy shade beneath some Ashe juniper trees (Juniperus ashei) on Floral Park Dr. in my neighborhood on March 30. It’s been a good while since this species has appeared here, so below from the same photo session I’ve added a reminder that silverpuff’s flower heads are cylindrical, tend to nod, and stay mostly closed.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 7, 2019 at 4:45 AM

Texas being Texas

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In the spring Texas does wildflowers.

Prompted by reports of good sightings a little over a hundred miles from home in Cestohowa, we headed south on March 18. We began finding good things just past Seguin and even better ones after we detoured a little from our route to check out New Berlin. In fact the wildflowers were so bountiful on some of the properties in that area that we never got any farther. Sorry, Cestohowa.

We’d first stumbled on the flowerful cemetery at Christ Lutheran Church of Elm Creek in 2014, and this year proved its equal. Here’s an overview:

To my mind, every cemetery should be covered in wildflowers.

The tombstones are interesting, with the oldest ones dating from the 1800s and inscribed in German (remember, the town is New Berlin). Still, as this blog is devoted to nature, here are a couple of photographs that focus on the profuse wildflowers in their own right. The colonies were so intertwined that I was able to frame the flowers in lots of ways. The bright yellow ones are Nueces coreopsis (Coreopsis nuecensis).

The red flowers are Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa) and the others are bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis), the state’s official wildflower. You saw a closeup of one way back in early February.)

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 21, 2019 at 4:44 AM

Green

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‘Tis not shamrocks but wood-sorrel (Oxalis spp.) greening the ground in our back yard on February 25th.

And if it’s more three-part green leaves ye be craving, here’s another view of southern dewberry
(Rubus trivialis),
this time from February 27th in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 17, 2019 at 4:46 AM

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