Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘seeds

Not from now and less not from now

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I didn’t see much blazing-star (Liatris mucronata) flowering in the fall of 2018. Maybe it wasn’t a great year for the species or maybe I wasn’t in the right places at the right times. On September 26th at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center I did get to make this bright portrait of a blazing-star flower spike contrasting with some prairie goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis) happily out of focus behind it.

Several times in the months that followed I managed to photograph the late stage of this Liatris species, which often makes me imagine a fuzzy burned-out candle. Below from November 24th at the Doeskin Ranch is a picture of one with seed heads of little bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium) surrounding it.

And speaking of figurative candles, how could we not recall the opening “fig”
from Edna St. Vincent Millay‘s A Few Figs from Thistles?

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 11, 2019 at 4:42 AM

Not snow

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A first glance may make you think you’re seeing a dusting of snow, but no: it was fluff from cattails (Typha spp.) and goldenrod (Solidago altissima) that had settled indiscriminately over all the nearby plants at the Arbor Walk Pond on December 3rd. This is another good example of point 15 in About My Techniques.

Below is a closer and darker take on a clump of cattail seed fluff that had fallen onto a dry goldenrod plant.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 7, 2019 at 4:44 AM

Arc, the here-old grasses swing

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In addition to the bushy bluestem grass that’s a delight here in the fall, little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) also has its autumn appeal. On the afternoon of December 1st I stopped at an undeveloped lot on the corner of Heatherwilde Blvd. and Yellow Sage St. in Pflugerville to photograph the backlit clump of little bluestem you see above. The wind kept blowing the normally upright stalks into arcs that I was able to record unblurred before they sprang back up by setting my camera’s shutter speed to 1/1000 of a second.

Five days earlier I’d gotten down in a ditch along Spicewood Springs Rd. so I could aim up into a clear blue sky while also portraying some little bluestem seed heads forming arcs in the breeze. That time 1/500 of a second sufficed. If you’re reminded of Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa, so am I.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 19, 2018 at 4:45 AM

Ageratina havanensis does its thing

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A great floral attractor of insects in the fall is Ageratina havanensis, known as fragrant mist flower, shrubby boneset, and thoroughwort, and apparently in Spanish as the barba de viejo (old man’s beard) that corresponds to the fuzzier stage the inflorescence takes on after it goes to seed.

Click to enlarge.

The insect shown above working these flowers in my neighborhood on November 2nd is a syrphid fly, which you can see gains some protection by mimicking a bee. The stray seeds with silk attached came from the adjacent poverty weed bush that graciously put in an appearance here a couple of weeks ago. Below you’ll find a much larger and more colorful insect that was visiting the flowers, a queen butterfly, Danaus gilippus.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 4, 2018 at 4:56 AM

Fluffy poverty weed and fleecy clouds

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Sometimes you get clouds that mimic your subject. That’s the way it was on November 2nd when I went over to a poverty weed bush (Baccharis neglecta) I know in my neighborhood that had matured to the stage where it was casting its seed-bearing fluff into the breeze.

After the seeds and fluff from each tuft blow away, a little “star” gets left behind.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 20, 2018 at 4:43 AM

Strobilus, strobili

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On October 29th I photographed some of the horsetails (Equisetum spp.)
around the pond adjacent to the Central Market on N. Lamar Blvd.
The plant shown above was forming its strobilus.
The one below had gotten farther along in the process.

The second photograph exemplifies point 24 in About My Techniques.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 18, 2018 at 4:44 AM

Fasciation comes to a black-eyed susan

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Near the end of my visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on September 26th I photographed some seed head remains of black-eyed susans, Rudbeckia hirta. Here’s one of them, in which you can confirm the usual thimble shape:

Then I spotted an obviously fasciated specimen, with a flattened stem and a bunch of seed heads glommed together into an irregular bundle:

Click the “fasciation” tag below if you’d like to learn more about the phenomenon and see other examples I’ve shown over the years.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 13, 2018 at 4:50 AM

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