Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘shrub

Not yet its own flowers

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purple-bindweed-flowering-on-poverty-weed-9893a

As of September 9th these poverty weed bushes (Baccharis neglecta) along BMC Drive in Cedar Park hadn’t yet produced any of their own flowers but were adorned with those of Ipomoea cordatotriloba, known as purple bindweed or tievine, which had been having a great time around central Texas for some weeks already, both crawling along the ground and climbing on other things. Notice how the vine was questing into the air in several places, looking to go higher even when there was nothing any higher to latch on to.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 21, 2016 at 4:56 AM

Beautyberry with fruit

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american-beautyberry-fruit-0468

When I walked a mostly shaded trail along the upper reaches of Bull Creek on September 12th I passed several American beautyberry bushes (Callicarpa americana) that had already produced fruit.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 19, 2016 at 5:09 AM

A tale of two junipers

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Lady Bird Johnson website: "Although commonly a tree in Eurasia, Common Juniper is only rarely a small tree in New England and other northeastern States. In the West, it is a low shrub, often at timberline. Including geographic varieties, this species is the most widely distributed native conifer in both North America and the world. Juniper berries are food for wildlife, especially grouse, pheasants, and bobwhites. They are an ingredient in gin, producing the distinctive aroma and tang.”

The other juniper that Melissa pointed out to us at Illinois Beach State Park on June 6th was a species that forms broad, low mounds, Juniperus communis. Here’s a picture from the overcast morning of June 9th showing a prominent common juniper mound in the foreground and several others farther back. The yellow-orange wildflowers are the hoary puccoon that you saw closer views of a few weeks ago.

Whenever I come across the species name communis I’m accustomed to finding out that the plant in question is native to Europe, where Linnaeus and other early botanists considered it “common.” I was surprised, then, to learn that Juniperus communis is native on several continents. Here’s what the website of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center says: “Although commonly a tree in Eurasia, Common Juniper is only rarely a small tree in New England and other northeastern States.  In the West, it is a low shrub, often at timberline. Including geographic varieties, this species is the most widely distributed native conifer in both North America and the world. Juniper berries are food for wildlife, especially grouse, pheasants, and bobwhites. They are an ingredient in gin, producing the distinctive aroma and tang.”

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 30, 2016 at 5:07 AM

Creeping juniper

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Creeping Juniper on Dunes 7635

Melissa told us on June 6th at Illinois Beach State Park that two kinds of juniper grow on the dunes there. The one shown here from a photo outing three days later is Juniperus horizontalis, which lives up to its species name by staying close to the ground as it creeps along the beach. Note the mostly immature fruit in the second picture. (Both photographs look predominantly downward.)

In Undaunted Courage, Stephen Ambrose quoted from Meriwether Lewis’s journal entry of April 12, 1805, written in what I think is now North Dakota: “This plant would make very handsome edgings to the borders and walks of a garden…. [and it is] easily propegated*.” Lewis had called the plant “dwarf juniper,” which Ambrose interpreted as creeping juniper.

Creeping Juniper with Fruit 7693

* Neither Lewis nor Clark used standardized or even consistent spelling. The quoted sentence, with just one mistake, is an example of Lewis’s best spelling.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 29, 2016 at 5:11 AM

Agarita flowers and buds

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Agarita Flowers and Buds 6734

I’m a bit late in showing you these flowers and buds of an agarita bush, Mahonia trifoliolata, that I photographed off Yaupon Dr. on February 26. Taking too many pictures to show in these pages isn’t a bad “problem” to have.

For a closer look at some of the agarita flowers, click the following excerpt.

Agarita Flowers and Buds 6720A

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 29, 2016 at 4:57 AM

On schedule

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Texas Mountain Laurel Flowers 5497

It’s not unusual in Austin to see Texas mountain laurel, Sophora secundiflora, flowering in February. Take as proof the one I stopped to photograph in the prairie restoration at Austin’s former Mueller Airport on February 17th. The patches of light in this image keep making me think of a stained glass window.

Texas mountain laurel is always a harbinger of spring, but if these flowers make you leap for joy a little more than usual, it may be because 2016 is a leap year and February 29th its leap day*. By the way, it’s an unwarranted leap of faith to believe that every fourth year is a leap year. That’s mostly true, but century years whose first part isn’t exactly divisible by 4 are not leap years: 1900 wasn’t a leap year and 2100 won’t be either, because 19 and 21 aren’t exactly divisible by 4. In contrast, 2000 was a leap year because 20 is divisible by 4. The next century leap year will be 2400, but somehow I don’t think any of us will be here to leap up and welcome it in.

Oh well, we can still welcome Wordsworth’s little poem:

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

————-

* And notice how I leaped** over the second occurrence of is in “2016 is a leap year and February 29th is its leap day.” Is is understood to repeat in the shortened version, and it doesn’t even depend on what the meaning of is is.

** American English generally leaps over the form leapt and lands on leaped.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 29, 2016 at 5:03 AM

Posted in nature photography

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More December wildflowers

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Ageratina havanensis 1241

Most of you who visit this blog live well north of the Equator, so the phrase December wildflowers likely strikes you as a contradiction. That’s not the case in Austin, where we always have at least some native wildflowers blooming near the end of the calendar year. In the previous post, for example, you saw a goldeneye flower head as it was opening on December 4, and now here’s one branch of an Ageratina havanensis bush that I found abundantly flowering in my neighborhood on December 18. In fact a few plants of this species in my part of town are still putting out flowers, thanks to the lack of a freeze so far this winter.

Common names for Ageratina havanensis include shrubby boneset, Havana snakeroot, and white mistflower. The white in that last name is an approximation because there’s usually a pale pink tinge in these flowers, and even a bit more in the buds.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 5, 2016 at 5:18 AM

A different red and green

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Guayacan with Fruit 0038

Many of you may be seeing or thinking about the red and green of holly today, but here’s a different bearer of those colors, a diminutive evergreen tree called guayacán, Guaiacum angustifolium. I’d seen the species on previous visits to arid west Texas but never at a time of year when it had bright red seeds on it the way it did in Big Bend National Park on November 22.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 25, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Home away from home

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Goldeneye Flowering in Fort Davis 9457

Although 400 miles west of home in the Trans-Pecos, I noticed a few old friends that also grow natively in Austin. Pecan and cottonwood and mesquite trees were among them, and so was Viguiera dentata, a bush known as goldeneye or sunflower goldeneye. Here you see one flowering on the grounds of the old Fort Davis on November 20. Thanks to Prof. Michael Powell of Sul Ross State University for confirming the identification.

Before leaving Austin for west Texas I’d noticed a few flowers on several goldeneye bushes in my Great Hills neighborhood, but nothing to write home (i.e. to you) about. Within a couple of weeks of my return, though, I found that some of the goldeneyes in northwest Austin were putting on a good show. Below is an example of one from Arboretum Blvd. late on the afternoon of December 4.

Goldeneye Densely Flowering 0660

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 16, 2015 at 4:40 AM

Another non-sunflowery member of the sunflower family

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Ageratina havanensis Flowers 8854

Speaking of shrubs that don’t look like sunflowers but that are indeed in the same botanical family, here are some flowers (and a few buds) of an Ageratina havanensis bush, known as shrubby boneset and white mistflower. I could have cropped my subject more tightly, but I chose to leave extra space so you could get more of a feel for the leaves and also so there’d be more green to contrast with the pale pink of the flowers.

Like the last couple of photographs, this one comes from the greenbelt adjacent to Great Hills Park on November 4th.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 18, 2015 at 4:51 AM

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