Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘plant

Now you don’t see it, now you do

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This sawtooth-edged plant is sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri). If you don’t see what else caught people’s attention at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on March 14th, you’re welcome to take more time looking. If you still don’t see it, or if you want more information about it, click to enlarge the explanation on the blackboard below.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 27, 2018 at 4:37 AM

Posted in nature photography

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So why is it called marsh gumplant?

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Grindelia stricta var. angustifolia is called marsh gumplant because it grows in marshes and is gummy (I’d have said gooey). You can see that second feature in this closeup that I took, like the previous photograph, in the wetlands of California’s Martinez Regional Shoreline on November 2nd of last year.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 3, 2017 at 5:04 AM

A botanical surprise

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I got close to a substantial Joshua tree a few miles north of Barstow, California, on October 25. Despite the common designation of “tree” based on the presence of bark and a sturdy trunk, the scientific name Yucca brevifolia tells us that the plant is actually a yucca. Surprise. A closer look at a cluster of Joshua tree leaves clearly shows their yucca-ness.


Click to enlarge.

Yuccas in central Texas are a lot smaller than Joshua trees, but west Texas has some closer in stature to California’s giants.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 6, 2017 at 5:01 AM

A rare milkweed

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At Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in southern Utah on October 23, 2016, I encountered the rare Welsh’s milkweed, Asclepias welshii.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 2, 2017 at 5:02 AM

Desert mistletoe

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The custom of kissing under mistletoe on Christmas, which some of you may have enjoyed yesterday, became popular in England in the 1700s and has spread to other English-speaking countries. While most Christmas traditions come from countries with cold winters, genera of mistletoe grow in warm climates, too. On our recent trip through the American Southwest, I was surprised at how common desert mistletoe (Phoradendron californicum) is there and how conspicuous its hanging clusters of red fruits are in those dry surroundings. I saw this desert mistletoe in a paloverde tree (Parkinsonia spp.) at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on November 7th.

And from earlier that morning in Tucson Mountain Park, here’s a closer look at some dense desert mistletoe branches and fruit.


Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 26, 2016 at 5:00 AM

Southwestern bristlegrass

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I think you can see why this grass that I photographed on a field trip to the Cedar Stump Ranch on October 16 is called southwestern bristlegrass (Setaria scheelei). If there were no spaces between the clumps of bristles, this two-dimensional view might make you think you’re looking at a long feather.

Today marks the first appearance of southwestern bristlegrass in these pages.

Southwestern Bristlegrass Seed Head 7396

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 4, 2015 at 4:58 AM

On rare occasions 3 = 5.

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Poison Ivy with Five Leaflets 6189

“Leaves of three, let it be,” goes an old adage that’s meant to guide people away from the three “leaves” of poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicans. I put “leaves” in quotation marks because, technically speaking, poison ivy has compound leaves, each of which is normally made up of three leaflets; those three leaflets together comprise one (and only one) leaf.

Now for the word normally in that last sentence: a poison ivy leaf almost always produces three leaflets, but once in a rare while it produces five, as you can confirm in today’s photograph taken in Great Hills Park on April 27th. The picture you saw yesterday of a poison ivy vine climbing a rough-barked tree reminded me of my earlier sighting, which I’d meant to report to you but had forgotten about, so here it is now.

In case you’re wondering, the other leaves on this poison ivy plant had their normal complement of three leaflets.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 30, 2015 at 5:29 AM

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