Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘prairie

Dodder on the prairie

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On the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on April 30th I stopped in several places to photograph dodder (Cuscuta spp.), a parasitic plant that sucks the life out of other plants. Victims in the downward-looking photograph above include square-bud primroses (Calylophus berlandieri), firewheels (Gaillardia pulchella), and antelope-horns milkweed (Asclepias asperula). Here’s a much closer view from the side showing dodder attacking a square-bud primrose:

Parasites repel people, and that’s understandable, but dodder’s yellow-orange-angelhair-pasta-like tangles offer a visual complexity it’s hard for a nature photographer—at least this one—to pass up.

If you want to know more, come read an article of mine about dodder that the Native Plant Society of Texas just published.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 24, 2017 at 4:55 AM

Prairie parsley on the Blackland Prairie

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A couple of posts back you saw an Eastern black swallowtail caterpillar that I found on a prairie parsley plant (Polytaenia nuttallii) when I visited the Blackland Prairie west of Heatherwilde Blvd. in Pflugerville on April 30th. After I went back the next day and explored a different part of the parcel, I came across a great stand of prairie parsley flowering away, as shown above. How’s that for density? The mostly red flowers mixed in, by the way, are Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheels and Indian blankets.

The closer and more downward-looking view below reveals that some of the prairie parsley plants had begun going to seed. The purple flower heads are Texas thistles (Cirsium texanum).

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 10, 2017 at 4:22 AM

Black swallowtail caterpillar

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When I wandered out onto a piece of the Blackland Prairie on the west side of Heatherwilde Blvd. in Pflugerville on April 30th, I noticed that one of the prairie parsley plants (Polytaenia nuttallii) was host to the caterpillar of an Eastern black swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes). You can learn more about this species in a Wikipedia article.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 8, 2017 at 5:01 AM

Wind on the Blackland Prairie

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Yesterday morning I went back to the west side of Heatherwilde Blvd. in Pflugerville, back to a piece of the Blackland Prairie that I’d found in full flower the day before. With the wind gusting to perhaps 25 mph (40 km/hr), I took many pictures at a high shutter speed to stop the plants’ movements. The photograph in this post came into being at 1/1000 of a second.

The yellow flowers are square-bud primroses, Calylophus berlandieri. The clusters of much smaller yellow flowers atop tall plants are prairie parsley, Polytaenia nuttallii. The yellow-fringed red flower heads are Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheels and Indian blankets. The blowing grass is purple three-awn, Aristida purpurea, which arcs over even without any wind and still suggests it’s being blown sideways.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 2, 2017 at 5:02 AM

An intact snout but a frayed rear

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The flowering goldenrod I photographed on the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on September 28th attracted many insects, including this American snout butterfly, Libytheana carinenta.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 7, 2016 at 4:56 AM

Why I’d gone back to the prairie

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On September 28th I went back to the new street in Manor called Wildhorse Ranch Trail to see how the snow-on-the-prairie was coming along on the Blackland Prairie since my last visit exactly three weeks earlier. I found that most of the Euphorbia bicolor plants had produced their fuzzy little tripartite green seed capsules, as you see here. In the background is part of the flowering mound of broomweed, Amphiachyris dracunculoides, that dazzled you last time (I hope you won’t mind if I put words in your mouth).

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 28, 2016 at 5:02 AM

Another kind of sumpweed

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Do you remember the picture of narrowleaf sumpweed from a few weeks ago? We have a second species of Iva in central Texas, Iva annua, known as annual sumpweed. On September 28th I found some growing in a hollow in a dense mound of broomweed, Amphiachyris dracunculoides. The location was along a new street called Wildhorse Ranch Trail in Manor. All the land there is getting developed, but in the meantime I’ve visited several times and taken lots of pictures.

Now you can say to your friends: “I’ve a picture of Iva.”

© 2106 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 27, 2016 at 5:06 AM

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