Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘spring

Giliastrum incisum once more

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As far as I know, not since 2013 have I come across Giliastrum incisum, called cut-leaf gilia and split-leaf gilia. On April 11th off Yaupon Dr. on the west side of my neighborhood I began noticing plant after plant of this slender forb, so naturally I took pictures. Each flower measures only about a third of an inch across. Below you’ll see what a bud looks like.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 8, 2019 at 4:40 AM

Wildflowers along Mopac

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Mopac, named for the Missouri-Pacific railroad whose tracks it partly runs alongside, is a north-south expressway on the west side of Austin. For hours each morning and again each afternoon from Monday through Friday it’s jammed up, but not on Sunday mornings. That’s the time on May 5th when I went to the embankment at the northeast corner of Mopac and Braker Lane to photograph the dense wildflowers I’d enjoyed seeing there in April and May in other years and again this spring. The mostly red flower heads are Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheels, Indian blankets, and blanketflowers. The mostly yellow flower heads are Thelesperma filifolium, called greenthread because of the plant’s thread-like leaves.

The astute viewer will have noticed (as some writers used to put it) the contrast between the flowerful embankment that fills two-thirds of the photograph, and the bare one on the other side of the highway. I don’t recall whether that opposite embankment had looked as good as the near one; I do know that just a few days earlier I saw mowers cutting down all the wildflowers on that side of Mopac farther south, in the vicinity of Far West Blvd. I’d been planning to photograph there but didn’t make it. Fortunately I was in time to catch this display on the east side of the highway. Below is another view, now in my usual way, which is to say without any human elements. The bits of white are gaura, Oenothera sp., and the darker flowers are Mexican hats, Ratibida columnifera, a strange one of which you saw in the previous post.

UPDATE: When I drove past this intersection three days later, on May 8th, I found that all the wildflowers on the east side of the highway, the ones you see above, had been mowed down.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 7, 2019 at 4:44 AM

Annual pennyroyal could just as well be called annual lemonyroyal

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Hedeoma acinoides, known as annual pennyroyal, could just as well be called annual lemonyroyal because the plant’s foliage has a pronounced scent similar to that of lemons. Whether at least some of the same chemicals that account for that aroma in lemons are at work in this pennyroyal species, I don’t know. I do know that this photograph is from April 12th along the right-of-way west of Morado Circle. If you’d like a closer look at one of these diminutive flowers, which barely reach half an inch in length, you can have one.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 4, 2019 at 4:44 AM

A closer look at four-nerve daisies

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After showing you three good colonies of four-nerve daises in the last post, I thought I should remind you what an individual flower head of this species (Tetraneuris linearifolia) looks like. When I searched through my pictures from April 12th along the right-of-way under the power lines west of Morado Circle, I found this one, which has the advantage of including two stages of a four-nerve daisy. The stage on the right, which follows the one on the left, typifies the way the central disk tends to bulge upward at the same time as the ray flowers fold back, lose some of their yellow, and take on a papery appearance.

In case you’re wondering about the curious configuration behind the two daisies, it was the flower globe of an antelope-horns milkweed (Asclepias asperula) that lay far enough in the background for me to render it out of focus yet still retain its pattern of light and dark. Now that I’ve identified the milkweed I guess I’ll have to show you a picture of some in its own right. You see the globe below when several flowers had opened and a greater number of buds were still to open. The accompanying white flowers are corn salad (Valerianella spp.).

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 2, 2019 at 4:38 AM

An aura and a wraith

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Here are two takes from April 12th of Heller’s plantain (Plantago helleri), with the rain-lily (Cooperia pedunculata) behind it seen first as an aura and then as a wraith. I haven’t a ghost of a chance of guessing which version you prefer. (Actually, photographers at a recent gathering did favor one, but at least for now I won’t say which it was.)

UPDATE: The majority of commenters here, like the photographers at the meeting I mentioned, prefer the first photograph.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 28, 2019 at 4:42 AM

We had rain on Saturday and Sunday, so by Thursday…

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We had rain on Saturday and Sunday, so by Thursday, April 11th, rain-lilies (Cooperia pedunculata) were coming up around Austin. I was fortunate with the picture above because a tiny red mite was running around pretty quickly on the flower but somehow I caught it in an instant of relative stillness. Some of the rain-lilies I photographed were growing near a colony of four-nerve daisies (Tetraneuris linearifolia), including the one shown below. Notice how the circle of orange at the center of the rain-lily coincidentally corresponds in color to the daubs of the daisies in the background.

And finally here’s an abstract take on the subject.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 26, 2019 at 4:42 AM

A subtler wildflower meadow

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April being the 4th (and according to T.S. Eliot the cruelest) month, with the 22nd designated Earth Day, here are 2 x 2 pictures showing a floral meadow in my Austin neighborhood as it looked 10 days ago. Flowers covered the ground densely enough that I found it hard to walk without crushing any of them, yet at the same time they were subtler than the flashy, color-saturated wildflowers from March and early April that you so often saw here. You may recognize the background trees in the first photo as Ashe junipers (Juniperus ashei), which proliferate in central Texas.

Each of the next three views brings you closer to the wildflowers in the meadow.

The yellow flowers are four-nerve daisies (Tetraneuris linearifolia.) The upright white ones are rain-lilies (Cooperia pedunculata). The purple ones are wild garlic (Allium drummondii). Most numerous of all in this luxurious meadow are the low white flowers that have the curious name corn salad (Valerianella spp.) They’re also unusual in the way they tend to grow in roughly rectangular arrays.

Notice in the last picture that the prominent 4 x 4 array in the center consists of 16 clusters, each of which is a little rectangle in its own right. The folded-over ray floret in the lower of the two four-nerve daisies was likely the work of a spider making a little hide-away for itself. That’s a common sight in these parts.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 22, 2019 at 4:42 AM

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