Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘snail

The often seen and the seldom seen

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In several posts this year you’ve seen little snails that have climbed onto plants in central Texas. The plant that this snail found its way onto is one I’ve encountered only a couple of times in my two decades of nature photography. I couldn’t even remember its name, and had to go searching. Botanists call it Ammannia coccinea, whose species name is Latin for ‘scarlet.’ Colloquially descriptive names are scarlet tooth-cup and valley redstem. I found this specimen not in a valley but at Cypress Creek Park out by Lake Travis on October 4th. Turns out the species has a pretty wide distribution across a large part of the country.

And speaking of things seldom seen, I don’t believe I’ve ever come across a bluebell (Eustoma sp.) as late in the season as October 4th, but that’s what happened when I was calling it a day after photographing the little snail and already heading back toward my car. This was the one and only bluebell I saw there.

 © 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 11, 2020 at 4:35 AM

Austin’s still snailiferous

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Now well past May’s peak of limaciferousness in central Texas, the land beneath our baking sun has continued to host many a snail. Whether the small creatures I’ve found were living or dead has been mostly beyond my ability to say. They haven’t, however, been beyond my ability to photograph. I found the one above on August 6th near the tip of a Mexican hat seed head (Ratibida columnifera), and the one below on a bed of dry fallen Ashe juniper leaves (Juniperus ashei). In that portrait, taken on July 10th, I’d gone for a shallow-depth-of-field approach, with little more than the apex of the spiral in focus.

The last image, from June 15th in Great Hills Park when things were still more colorful,
shows a snail on a living Ashe juniper with a firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella) beyond it.

And here’s a quotation about photography:

“Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.”
Ansel Adams in American Way, October 1974.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 23, 2020 at 4:33 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

White snail on a developing firewheel

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Here’s an abstract view of a mostly white snail on an opening firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella) on the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on May 6th. An open flower head of the same species accounts for the red and yellow. If the green in the lower right suggests a bird on the wing, it’s probably just my imagination taking flight.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 23, 2020 at 4:38 AM

More about snails, on and off the prairie

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On May 7th I went to a surviving piece of the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville and photographed my first basket-flowers (Plectocephalus americanus) of the season. One of them caught my attention because a two-toned snail had slid all the way up the stalk and onto the flower head’s “basket.”

On May 6th I’d gone to an adjacent part of the property, where snails had also been abundant. On the morning of the 7th I went to get my phone, which was charging right next to my camera bag. Imagine my surprise when I found a snail on the phone’s USB cable. As best I can make out, the snail hitchhiked home on or in my camera bag, then slid out overnight and found its way onto the USB cable.

Now it’s 10 days later.

And the small snail, never moving, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid iPhone cable just above my chamber’s floor;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a mollusk’s that is dreaming,
    And the light bulb o’er him streaming throws his shadow toward the door;
And that snail from off that cable that lies coiling near the floor
            Shall be lifted—nevermore!
© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 17, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Only in a floral fantasy

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Only in a floral fantasy could one of us, as large as we are, ride on something as small as the flower head of a Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera). Not so for two tiny snails I found on Mexican hats at the intersection of Capital of Texas Highway and RM 2222 on May 21st. Below you see one of them.

The yellow-to-red glow in the background emanates from a firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella).
Horsemints (Monarda citriodora) account for the hints of purple.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 29, 2019 at 4:38 AM

The demise of an ant on a snail

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As you heard and saw last time, on the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on April 30th I stopped to photograph some dodder (Cuscuta spp.). In one place a small snail had climbed up on a plant that the dodder was attacking. Snails often climb plants here, so that’s not unusual, but when I got close I noticed something I don’t remember ever seeing before: an ant had died on the snail, perhaps caught up and immobilized in the snail’s slime.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 26, 2017 at 4:50 AM

White against pink

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Tiny Snail on Dry Stalk by Mountain Pink Flowers 9229A

White: a small snail.

Pink: mountain pink, Centaurium beyrichii.

Date: June 25.

Place: Capital of Texas Highway.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that points 1, 2, and especially 5 and 20 in About My Techniques are relevant to today’s picture.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 11, 2016 at 5:08 AM

Snail on a small plant

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Snail on Small Plant 2166A

On the prairie in northeast Austin on April 22nd I noticed this snail that had climbed onto a small plant. The most common land snails here are tiny but this one was larger, maybe 3/4 of an inch (19mm). Shortly after finding that snail, I saw that another one of the same type had gotten up on a leaf of an antelope-horns milkweed plant, Asclepias asperula.

Sanil on Antelope Horns Milkweed Plant 2204

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 16, 2016 at 5:08 AM

Alamo, take 2; snails, take 2, except this time there’s only one and it’s tiny

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Tiny Snail on Alamo Vine Seed Capsule Remains 0067

So here are different takes on two recently treated things. Yesterday’s post about a cottonwood leaf mentioned that alamo is the Spanish word for that kind of tree. Central Texas is also home to a plant in the morning-glory family known as alamo vine, Merremia dissecta, which makes its debut in these pages today. In this photograph from March 27th along E. 51st St. you’re looking at the distinctive remains of one of this species’ seed capsules. After I got in close to take pictures, I was surprised to find a tiny snail on one of its ragged flanges.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 17, 2015 at 4:44 AM

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