Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘pods

Light and shadow, and light

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Central Texas is home to several species of Sesbania, including the Sesbania vesicaria that botanists have now reclassified as Glottidium vesicarium, known as bladderpod sesbania or bagpod sesbania for the shape of its pods. In Bastrop State Park on September 23rd I played with the light and shadows on some of the many pods in evidence there that morning. I also took advantage of bright sunlight to portray a gray hairstreak butterfly (Strymon melinus) on the flowers of what I take to be tall bush clover (Lespedeza stuevei), a species I’d never photographed before and that is therefore making its debut here today.


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Here’s more from Xi Van Fleet, a woman who escaped from the depredations of Mao’s [Anti-]Cultural Revolution and who sees worrisome parallels in the increasing repression and censorship in the United States. (I have a personal connection to such stories because my father and his parents and brother managed to escape from the terror of the Soviet Union in the 1920s.)

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 19, 2021 at 4:26 AM

Sensitive briar seed pods

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A week ago you saw an August 22nd view of a sensitive briar flower globe (Mimosa roemeriana) in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183. Now from that same photo foray you get a look at some prickle-covered sensitive briar pods in front of one of those flower globes.


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“Systemic racism”?

I deplore the practice of labeling every little thing “racist.” If everything is “racist,” then nothing is, and the word has no meaning. Similarly, we often hear the claim that America is “systemically racist.” Of course that was once true, most notably during slavery and then during the century of so-called Jim Crow that followed. While there are—and, given human nature, presumably always will be—individual people of one race who bear ill will toward people of another race, it’s no longer true that institutions in the United States are systemically biased against the groups they used to discriminate against.

Except in education. The American education bureaucracy has done and keeps doing an amazingly efficient job of making sure black and brown kids don’t get a decent education, even as educationists hypocritically decry the racist treatment of those groups.

For decades the National Center for Education Statistics (NAEP) has gathered data about how “well” American students of various ages perform academically. The results are sorted into three categories:

Basic “denotes partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at each grade.” [As a math teacher I’ll add that having only a partial mastery of the prerequisites for the new material being taught makes it very difficult for a student to understand the new material.]

Proficient “represents solid academic performance for each grade assessed. Students reaching this level have demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter, including subject-matter knowledge, applications of such knowledge to real world situations, and analytical skills appropriate to the subject matter.”

Advanced “signifies superior performance beyond proficient.”

The other day I looked at the NAEP’s chart for the 2019 performance in grade-12 mathematics [go to page 9 in that document]. The results were predictably and persistently appalling for historical minorities.

A scandalous 66% of black 12th-graders fell below even the basic level in mathematics! Only 26% scored at the basic level, and 8% at the proficient level. Add those three numbers together and you get 100%. That’s right: so very few black 12th graders reached the advanced level that their numbers rounded to 0% for the top category.

Hispanics did only a little better. 54% of Hispanic 12th-graders fell below even the basic level in mathematics. Only 35% scored at the basic level, and 10% at the proficient level. Just 1% of Hispanics made it into the advanced category.

Did you have any idea how very bad the situation is?

What’s to be done? Come back next time and I’ll offer a suggestion.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 14, 2021 at 4:32 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

Paloverde parts

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From August 25th at Mopac and US 183, here are the ever cheery flowers of a paloverde tree (Parkinsonia aculeata). I also did a closeup of one of the tree’s drying pods.

Below is a minimalist view of a paloverde leaf whose curling tip had turned reddish.

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today:
“Sensible people don’t grieve over what they don’t have but rejoice in what they do have.”
Epictetus, Fragments.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 23, 2020 at 4:41 AM

Green milkweed flowers and pods

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From May 29th at the Benbrook Ranch Park in Leander you’re seeing the flowers and pods of green milkweed, Asclepias viridis. And how about those great clouds? Because I took these pictures only three minutes apart, the clouds hadn’t changed that much, so if you compare you can still match some of them up.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 16, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Mesquite pods

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While on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin on August 24th I spent time at a mesquite tree, Prosopis glandulosa, whose many pods caught my attention. Indian tribes in what is now Mexico and the southwestern United States used to grind the pods to make a sweet flour. In fact many places sell mesquite flour today. There’s even a Texas mesquite group on Instagram. And it isn’t just people who like mesquite: I noticed plenty of ants attracted to the pods, presumably due to their sweetness.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 3, 2019 at 4:42 AM

Another insect

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Texas Bow-Legged Bug on Mesquite Pod 1510

Near the end of my foray through the field at the corner of Metric Blvd. and Howard Ln. on the morning of October 9th, I stopped to photograph some pods on a honey mesquite tree, Prosopis glandulosa. On one pod I found a type of insect I don’t think I’d ever seen before, the Texas bow-legged bug, Hyalymenus tarsatus (which is truly a bug). This photograph introduces the insect and the pod but not the mesquite tree itself to these pages.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 11, 2013 at 5:59 AM

Wavy milkweed

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Wand milkweed; click for greater detail.

Yesterday’s post featured wand milkweed, Asclepias viridiflora, whose erect stance is clearer in today’s picture of the species. As for the fanciful alternate name green comet milkweed, perhaps that’s a reference to the hemisphere of green buds at the top. If I had naming rights, I’d be tempted to say wavy milkweed, not only because of the plant’s crinkle-edged leaves, but also because of its stem, which zigzags in a shallowly sinuous way rather than growing straight. The vertical object in the background at the lower right is the upper portion of one of the plant’s pods, which lack the warty texture so prominent on the pods of some other local milkweed species.

I found this wand milkweed growing at the northeast quadrant of US 183 and MLK in east Austin on August 23.

You can visit the USDA website for more information on this species, including a clickable map showing the surprisingly many places in North America where wand milkweed grows.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 2, 2011 at 5:47 AM

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