Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘purple

Low wild petunia

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From Vaught Ranch Road on June 13th come two views of a native wildflower
I’d never photographed before: Ruellia humilis, known as low wild petunia.

Here’s an unrelated little mathematical diversion: the four numbers 1, 1.2, 2, and 3 have the interesting property that whether you add all of them or multiply all of them you get the same result (in this case 7.2). Are they the only foursome like that? Hardly. For example, whether you add -2, -1, 0, and 3 or multiply -2, -1, 0, and 3, you get the same result (in this case 0). Would you believe that infinitely many sets of four numbers exist that also have the property that adding the four numbers gives the same result as multiplying them? That turns out to be the truth of the matter. Are you surprised?

The second example suggests a template for generating as many more sets of numbers as you like that have the desired property. Let the first of the four numbers be 0. Now pick any two different negative numbers you like (say for example –4 and –6). Finally, add the two negative numbers and make the sum positive (in this case 10). You’ll now have four numbers with the desired property (–4, –6, 0, 10). This works because 0 times any other number is 0, and you’ve rigged the addition in such a way that the positive number cancels out the two negative numbers. In fact you can extend the pattern to as many numbers as you like. For instance, here are six numbers such that adding them gives the same result as multiplying them: 0, -3, -7, -10, -15, 35.

As a quotation for today, let me quote myself: Zero may be nothing, but not for nothing is zero special.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 4, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Horsemint asterisk*

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By July 6th the season for horsemints (Monarda citriodora) was well past its peak. Nevertheless, on that day I still found several fresh plants near Yaupon Drive. One horsemint flower tower had a rather flat top, so I took advantage of the opportunity by leaning over it and aiming straight down. One virtue of that viewpoint is that it reveals the fine white hairs at the flowers’ tips.

* I can’t resist using an asterisk to point out the word asterisk as at risk of being mispronounced asterick. There’s nothing icky about an asterisk.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 21, 2020 at 4:33 AM

Turnabout is fair play

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On June 23rd I took pictures, for only the second time ever, at the end of Vaught Ranch Rd. Not surprisingly, I saw mostly the same species of wildflowers there as I had the year before. The two shown in today’s post are Lygodesmia texana, known as the Texas the skeleton plant, and Wedelia acapulcensis var. hispida, called zexmenia (or as many a local botanist or native plant person likes to joke, sex mania). They say that turnabout is fair play, so you get to see each flower head as both subject and background glow. Notice that zexmenia has more orange in its flowers than most of the other DYCs (darn yellow composites) in central Texas.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 14, 2020 at 4:43 AM

A glorious bluebell colony

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Yesterday I drove up to San Gabriel Parkway in Leander to photograph what may have been the largest colony of Texas bluebells (Eustoma sp.) I’ve ever seen. The property had a barbed wire fence around it, so I had to take my pictures from the outside. For the second view, I bent over and shot between the strands of wire.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 24, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Texas bindweed flower and basket-flower

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In Great Hills Park on June 15th I found a Texas bindweed flower (Convolvulus equitans) close enough to a basket-flower (Plectocephalus americanus) that the latter* could serve as a pretty backdrop for the former. Note the color harmony between the center of the bindweed blossom and the basket-flower beyond it.

* Because of the way we Americans pronounce latter, Britons are amused when they hear us saying what sounds to them like the former and the ladder.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 17, 2020 at 4:47 AM

Purple fall asters

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At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on November 11th it was hard not to keep taking pictures of the purple fall asters, Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, which were in their prime.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 16, 2019 at 4:50 AM

Away from Bull Creek

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Away from Bull Creek but still in St. Edward’s Park on June 11th I found a bunch
of horsemints, Monarda citriodora, in a clearing. I aimed straight down at one.

It was morning, and the corona of dewdrops atop the horsemint hadn’t evaporated yet,
as you can see more clearly by clicking below for an enlargement of the center.

If you’d like a reminder (or never knew) what a horsemint looks like,
here’s a more-conventional view of one from the side:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 28, 2019 at 4:39 PM

But I wasn’t finished with basket-flowers for 2019

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I did much of my basket-flower (Plectocephalus americanus) photography for this year on May 26th, which provided the pictures you saw of a colony and an individual flower head. On the morning of June 9th, as part of a mostly cultural jaunt to Dallas and Forth Worth, we sauntered up Flower Mound’s flower mound, where basket-flowers were still putting on quite a show. (Presumably the season was the reason, with spring coming a little later to the area 200 miles north of Austin than it does to central Texas). Some of the basket-flowers I saw there seemed different from what I’m used to in central Texas. Among the differences were baskets that seemed somewhat metallic, almost as if made with copper or brass.

Several of the basket-flowers struck me as more bundle-like than usual as they opened.

Some had florets of a richer purple than I recall seeing in Austin. Naturally I welcomed the novelties.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 24, 2019 at 4:32 AM

Basket-flower in two stages

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On May 26th, before I photographed the colony of basket-flowers (Plectocephalus americanus) in Pflugerville that you’ve already seen, I’d stopped on Burnet Rd. by the old Merrilltown Cemetery in far north Austin to check out the basket-flowers I’ve come to count on each spring stretched out along a roadside ditch and at the edge of the property next to the cemetery. While wind made my work difficult, I did get some good pictures of a developing basket-flower “basket” in front of a fully open flower head of the same species. I don’t recall making a portrait like this one in my two decades of photographing basket-flowers, so the picture pleases me in its own right and because of its novelty.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 5, 2019 at 4:44 AM

A new oddity

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On March 10th I went back to the lot along Balcones Woods Dr. where I’d photographed the stemless evening primrose flowers you saw here not long ago. The highlight of my latest stop was a strange ten-petal anemone flower (Anemone berlandieri) that had two central fruiting columns instead of the one that’s normal.

Sometimes flower parts get doubled as part of the phenomenon called fasciation, which I’ve documented in a bunch of posts over the years, but this time I didn’t see any of the noticeable flattening or distortion or elongation that fasciation typically brings with it. To continue investigating, I returned to the site on March 16th. By then the richly colored sepals had fallen off and dried out or blown away, so I had to search for several minutes to find the plant again. While the new evidence shown below argues against fasciation, what caused the rare splitting of one seed column into two remains a mystery. (I call this conjoining rare because even a local expert like botanist Bill Carr says he’s never seen an anemone do this.)

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 19, 2019 at 4:34 AM

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