Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘plants

Yucca flowering in the Texas Panhandle

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Probably the most numerous and certainly the most prominent flowers we saw in the Texas Panhandle on May 27th were those of Yucca glauca, known as soapweed yucca, plains yucca, and narrowleaf yucca. This species grows natively from Texas through Alberta, so it followed us on our trip through the Oklahoma Panhandle, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado again, New Mexico, and back into west Texas.

Today’s photograph is yet another one from the Alibates Flint Quarries. The orange earth in the background was within sight of the place shown in yesterday’s second picture.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 23, 2017 at 4:56 AM

Posted in nature photography

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New Zealand: Views from Cape Reinga

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On February 14th we drove from our base in Paihia to the northern end of the North Island. After stopping at the Te Paki dunes, we continued up to Cape Reinga. While not technically the northernmost point on the island, it’s close, and it has the virtue of a highway that takes you right there. You won’t be surprised to hear that there’s usually a brisk breeze at Cape Reinga, which whips up sea spray and makes distant places look hazier than closer ones, as you can confirm in the landscape/seascape above.

At a relatively bright moment, even with some clouds drifting low, I recorded a view of cabbage trees and flax high above a span of sun-saturated sea.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 27, 2017 at 5:01 AM

“Diabolical Dodder”

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Read the hot-off-the-presses article “Diabolical Dodder” on the website of the Native Plant Society of Texas.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 23, 2017 at 7:35 AM

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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: fern with sporangia

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Look at the prominent sporangia (spore-bearing bumps) that I saw on this fern frond in Queenstown on February 21st.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 16, 2017 at 4:50 AM

Pickleweed

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Click to enlarge.

In the wetlands of California’s Martinez Regional Shoreline on November 2nd of last year I came across the strange-looking (to me) plant shown here. I had no idea what it was, but when we were walking back to the car I noticed a woman coming toward us carrying a bunch of plastic buckets. On impulse I asked: “Are you a native plant person?” She said she wasn’t specifically, but it turned out she was indeed a biologist and knew a fair amount about the native species there. She identified my mystery plant as pickleweed. She added that its genus had changed and she couldn’t remember which of the two names that came into her mind is the current one. I looked it up later and found that the latest name is Sarcocornia pacifica (changed from Salicornia). I also learned that other common names for the plant are sea asparagus; perennial saltwort; American glasswort; and Pacific samphire, along with a folk-etymologized version of that, Pacific swampfire.

If pickleweed seems a strange name, I found the explanation for it in an article on a website from British Columbia: “Sea asparagus is edible and is sold in some stores, particularly seafood, local food, or specialty stores. It is picked wild and often pickled. It has a salty taste, and can be cooked in a variety of ways.” The Watershed Nursery website adds: “Pickleweed is a halophytic (tolerant of salty conditions)…. Salicornia species are being tested as a biofuel crop as it is composed of 32% oil and being a halophyte can be irrigated with salt water.”

Also strange is the disjoint distribution of this plant, which includes Long Island, where I grew up on the other side of the country from California.

Below is a closeup showing why this plant has traditionally been put in the goosefoot family (botanists now classify it as a member of the amaranth family).

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Click to enlarge a bunch.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 6, 2017 at 4:45 AM

Snake-cotton

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Soon after we drove into Arizona from New Mexico along Interstate 10 on October 17, we pulled over at the Texas Canyon rest area, where I was pleased to come across some snake-cotton. When I searched online later I found that two species are native in that area, Froelichia arizonica and Froelichia gracilis. I can’t tell which one this is.

If you want, you can have a look back at the Texas Canyon rest area from our 2014 trip to the Southwest.

You can also review the only other post in which a species of snake-cotton has appeared here.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 27, 2016 at 4:52 AM

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