Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘native plants

What’s reality, anyhow?

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The last post gave you a vintage red-white-and-blue look at a flowering Ipomopsis rubra, called Texas plume and standing cypress. This year I encountered the species for the first time on April 27th, before flowers or even buds had appeared. On the other hand, the firewheels (Gaillardia pulchella) beyond the standing cypress were blazing away, and I knew they’d complement the standing cypress in color and shape. Any red would come from the firewheels, with none from the standing cypress. I went for the feel of what I was seeing rather than trying to keep as much as possible in focus and recording reality—whatever that is. Here are three of the portraits I made that were new takes for me on Ipomopsis rubra.

 

 

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 6, 2019 at 4:40 AM

The twining and the twined upon

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From June 24th in Great Hills Park here’s the tendril of a Texas bindweed, Convolvulus equitans, that had twined its way around a developing Mexican hat, Ratibida columnifera. (Unfortunately jpegging and WordPressing have made the background somewhat splotchy.)

And here’s what a nearby Texas bindweed flower looked like.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 2, 2019 at 5:00 PM

Woolly ironweed

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I’ve had trouble over the years getting good pictures of woolly ironweed, Vernonia lindheimeri, because it’s hard to get many of its parts in focus at the same time. On June 18th I found some woolly ironweed budding along the Capital of Texas Highway and recorded this straight-down, limited-focus, double-asterisk view that seems okay. To see what the flowers of this species look like, you can check out a post from 2015.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 1, 2019 at 4:47 PM

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

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

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