Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘purple

Little bluestem in front of gayfeather flowers

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You’ve already had two posts from September 15th along FM 2769 in far northwest Austin showing Liatris punctata, known as gayfeather and blazing-star. In one you saw normal purple flowers, and in the other white flowers. In today’s photograph the gayfeather plays a supporting role (though colorfully a dominant one) behind a stalk of little bluestem grass, Schizachyrium scoparium, a part of which had turned brown in anticipation of approaching autumn.

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “When a theory really has got your brain in its grip, contradictory evidence—even evidence you already know—sometimes becomes invisible.” — Jordan Ellenberg, How Not to Be Wrong.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 7, 2020 at 4:44 AM

Gayfeather

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While driving along FM 2769 in far northwest Austin on September 15th I caught a glimpse of some telltale purple flowers spikes off to the side and quickly pulled over so I could walk back and take my first pictures for 2020 of Liatris punctata, known as gayfeather and blazing-star. (You recently saw L. elegans and L. aspera in Bastrop.) In this portrait I played up the linear leaves of another gayfeather plant close behind my subject.

As an accompanying quotation, here’s the ending of Wordsworth’s “Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”:

   Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
   Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
   To me the meanest flower that blows* can give
   Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

* English has two unrelated verbs to blow. The common one means ‘to move or cause to move in a current of air.’ The other blow, now at best archaic and unknown to most people, is the one Wordsworth intended; it means ‘to bloom’ (in fact bloom and blossom are related to this blow as well as to Latin-derived words like floral, florid, flourish, Florida, and flower). I could have used both kinds of blow for the first goldenrod in yesterday’s post.

UPDATE: I just found out that full-blown comes from the archaic blow, which makes sense: full-blown is ‘fully flowered.’ Isn’t it funny how we can use a phrase for our whole life and never realize what it’s actually saying? I guess I’d always assumed the expression referred to an object like a balloon that someone had blown up to its maximum size.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 29, 2020 at 4:00 AM

From river primrose to eryngo

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In the previous post I showed you the flowers of a native plant that was new to me, river primrose (Oenothera jamesii), bunches of which I found along the north fork of the San Gabriel River in Williamson County on September 16th. The yellow flowers are large, so you won’t be surprised to see, as you do above, that the plant’s buds are also sizable, maybe 4 inches long in this case. But what, you ask, is that rich purple in the background? It’s eryngo (Eryngium leavenworthii), whose inflorescences some people liken to little purple pineapples, and others to thistles, given how spiny the plant is. Strangely, though, eryngo turns out to be in the same botanical family, Apiaceae, as parsley, dill, anise, cumin, and celery. Because I’ve teased you with eryngo as a background glow, I guess I’ll have to show you one in its own right.

In an unrelated fact for today, see if you can get your arms around the fact that embracery is a legal term meaning ‘an attempt to influence a court, jury, etc., corruptly, by promises, entreaties, money, entertainments, threats, or other improper inducements.’

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 27, 2020 at 4:34 AM

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

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