Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘prairie

A good sunflower colony

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Click to enlarge.

A recent post focused on two sunflowers in a large colony. Now here’s a panorama showing how wild sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) can take over a field. I found this bright yellow colony on the Blackland Prairie along Gregg-Manor Rd. east of TX 130 on June 10th. Texas knows how to do wildflowers, yes indeed.

I’m tempted to say the way I cropped this photograph shows the influence of my Indian friend Pano Rama, but I would never say such a thing.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 15, 2020 at 7:45 AM

Sunflower, king of the prairie

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Okay, so the title that actually popped into my head when I was on the prairie two days ago was “Sunflower, king of the universe.” As much as I liked it, it struck me as maybe a little hyperbolic, so I toned it down. This was the field of sunflowers I’d headed out to find when I stumbled across the one that brightened up the background in yesterday’s picture. A member of the Texas Wildflowers group on Facebook had shown a few pictures of this large colony, which turned out to be in the northwest quadrant of E. Howard Lane and Harris Branch Parkway way out on the Blackland Prairie in Austin’s full-purpose annexation zone.

Note: this is Helianthus annuus, the anything-but-common “common” sunflower.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 12, 2020 at 4:47 AM

Spiral spirit

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Recent pictures of one snail on a fresh basket-flower, another on an opening firewheel, and a foursome on a dry plant have pleased some of you, so here are three more photographs from the limaciferous* Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville during the week of May 4th.

These snails are equal-opportunity climbers. In the top picture, the plant is greenthread, Thelesperma filifolium. The climbed-upon in the middle photograph is blazing star, Liatris mucronata.  Finally you have a square-bud primrose, Oenothera capillifolia.

* I coined limaciferous from the roots of Latin limax ‘snail’ and ferre ‘to bear.’
The choice was between that and the English-Latin hybrid snailferous.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 7, 2020 at 4:34 AM

National Prairie Day

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Today is National Prairie Day. As my salute to it, here are more views of the flowerful Blackland Prairie remnant along Heatherwilde Blvd. in Pflugerville. I made my fifth visit in a week to that site, and perhaps my last for 2020, on May 11. In the top picture, the tall plants topped with yellow flowers in the foreground are Texas parsley, Polytaenia texana. The mostly red flowers are Indian blankets, Gaillardia pulchella, and the white ones are prairie bishop, Bifora americana. Additionally in the second picture the different red flowers are Indian paintbrushes, Castilleja indivisa. The yellows are square-bud primroses, Oenothera capillifolia, and the yellow-orange ones are greenthread, Thelesperma filifolium.

Click to enlarge.

And below from the same site on May 6th is a flower I don’t often see, white rosinweed, Silphium albiflorum. You can tell how rough the leaves are, and I’ll add that they’re quite stiff as well.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 6, 2020 at 4:38 AM

Nine years

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Nine years ago today I put up this blog’s first post, which featured a basket-flower (Plectocephalus americanus) with a soft cloud beyond it. On May 10th of this year I drove to the site in Round Rock where I made that important portrait in 2000 and was relieved to find basket-flowers and others still flourishing there on the Blackland Prairie. Then I drove a quarter-mile east to a site that had later become my favorite for basket-flowers, given the expanse and density of the basket-flower colonies that I found there in most years. Alas, the entire site had been razed in preparation for development! Today’s picture shows how things looked there in the spring of 2014, and how I’ll always remember the place.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 4, 2020 at 4:24 AM

Fiery skipper on Texas thistle

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You’re looking at a fiery skipper (Hylephila phyleus) on a Texas thistle (Cirsium texanum). Square-bud primroses (Oenothera capillifolia) in the background lit up the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on May 11th.

By the way, Texas thistle flowers have a pleasant scent for people as well as butterflies and other insects. If you’re in an area where these grow and haven’t ever sniffed one, give it a shot while some are still around.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 3, 2020 at 4:04 AM

Three approaches to portraying basket-flower “baskets”

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On the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on May 7th I tried various approaches to photographing basket-flower “baskets” in a search for new ways to portray the familiar species Plectocephalus americanus (even if the new genus name isn’t yet familiar). For the first picture, I cast my shadow on the subject to create soft lighting while a wide aperture of f/3.5 kept the background well out of focus. I also had no aversion to a version in which f/8 let a background basket-flower reveal more of its shape:

For the third portrait I used the familiar technique of aiming toward a deeply shaded area:

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 31, 2020 at 4:29 AM

An unobstructed view of a pickerelweed colony in bloom

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The previous post teased you by allowing only a faraway glimpse of a flowering pickerelweed colony through a thick frame of giant bulrushes. Today’s post parts the veil and zooms you across the water to see those plants as they looked on May 19th when they brightened the edge of a Blackland Prairie pond in far northeast Austin. For a closeup of a Pontederia cordata flower spike, you can check out a 2015 post from the same location.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 29, 2020 at 4:37 AM

A lot going on: another instance of “more is more”

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On May 18th I spent an hour and a half at a pond on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin. Giant bulrushes (Schoenoplectus californicus) grew lushly in places around the pond, as you see in both of these busy photographs. In the second picture the bulrushes formed an eccentric* frame for the purple flowers of a pickerelweed colony (Pontederia cordata).

Click to enlarge.

* Eccentric is literally ex-centric, which is to say ‘off-center.’ The familiar sense applies here too.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 28, 2020 at 4:37 AM

A closer look at a clasping-leaf coneflower

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The inflorescence of a clasping-leaf coneflower (Dracopis amplexicaulis) superficially resembles those of a black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and a Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera). In fact all three are in the sunflower family’s Heliantheae tribe. One easy way to distinguish the species is to look at the plants’ leaves. Of the three wildflowers, only the clasping-leaf coneflower has leaves that clasp the stem, as the common name indicates. You can see that below—or at least you can imagine how the leaf clasps the stem beneath the mass of spittlebug froth. Actually you can see a bit of the clasping below the bubbles.

These pictures come from the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on May 7th. You’ve already seen what a whole colony of clasping-leaf coneflowers looked like there on that date.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 25, 2020 at 4:33 AM

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