Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘strange

Firewheel seed head on a sinuous stalk

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Today’s portrait of a firewheel seed head (Gaillardia pulchella) comes from June 17th near the northeast corner of Mopac and Braker Lane. If you count the color on the curiously bent and re-bent stalk as red, then the picture provides the requisite red, white, and blue that have come to symbolize Independence Day in the United States, those being the three colors of the American flag. The firewheel’s sinuous stem when viewed sideways, whether left or right, conveniently traces out the first letter in both names of the photographer, whose birthday has never failed to coincide with the national holiday.

Perhaps because of that coincidence in dates, and certainly because of my nature, I’ve always felt a connection to the founding period in this country’s history. The story goes that when the delegates to the Constitutional Convention finally emerged from their Philadelphia meeting room in 1787, a woman stopped Benjamin Franklin and asked him what form of government they’d given the country. His famous two-part reply, first factual and then oracular, was: “A republic, if you can keep it.” Now here we are 233 years later, and recent events make it seem more and more likely we won’t be able to keep it. I hope we can.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 4, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Fasciated double Mexican hat

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My first instance of fasciation for 2020 came on May 16th along Lost Horizon Drive. Mexican hats (Ratibida columnifera) in my neighborhood were approaching their peak around then, so I made plenty of portraits, individually and in small groups. (That’s also where I photographed a beetle on a buffalo gourd flower.) On the way back to my car after working for a couple of hours I noticed the double Mexican hat shown here. The fact that the flower stem was a little flattened suggested that fasciation was at work. What I find unusual, even for that phenomenon, is that the flower head on the right was so much more developed than the one on the left. If you’d like to see other instances of fasciation, you can scroll through some.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 18, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Mexican hat on a strangely curving stalk

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From a “vacant” lot in northwest Austin on May 19th comes this Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera) on a stalk that had curved so far it left the developing flower head upside down. The saturated reds and yellows of the greenthread (Thelesperma filifolium) and Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) in the background make this picture as much about color as form.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 1, 2020 at 4:39 AM

More bending

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Following in the tradition of the right-angled rain-lily and the retro-tipped pink evening primrose bud you’ve recently seen in these pages, here’s a Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera) with a bent central column that I found by the pond at the south end of the Arbor Walk on April 15th. The blue is water, not sky.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 27, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Sometimes a right angle is the right angle

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How about this curiously flexed rain-lily (Cooperia drummondii) that I found at the Doeskin Ranch on April 8th? And before anyone gets all bent out of shape by the flower in the picture not quite living up to the post’s title, yes, I realize that the angle here is a little less than 90°. I claim geometricopoetic license.

I also claim—and I think you’ll agree—that this is quite a different take on a rain-lily from the March 26th one that appeared here not so long ago.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 20, 2020 at 4:40 PM

What is it?

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Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In spite of T.S. Eliot’s admonition, I will ask “What is it?” On January 18th I noticed this little thing, maybe an inch across, on a local Ashe juniper tree (Juniperus ashei) and I don’t know what it is. Could it be something as mundane as a narrow strip of fabric that the preceding rain turned into a sodden clump (though it didn’t seem to have the texture of anything woven)? Might it be a fungus? Do any of you have other suggestions?

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 13, 2020 at 4:35 AM

Posted in nature photography

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The change from Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning

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From Monday’s weather forecast I learned that the overnight temperature into Tuesday morning would drop a few degrees below freezing. Sure enough, when I checked the thermometer early Tuesday morning it read 29°. Equally sure enough, that meant I had to dress warmly and go out into the cold for the season’s first possible pictures of frostweed ice. I drove the half-mile to my usual stand of plants (Verbesina virginica) in Great Hills Park and found—nada. Despite the freeze, not a single frostweed plant had produced ice.

On Wednesday morning the thermometer read 32° and I gave the project a second try. This time a couple of dozen frostweed plants had woken up and remembered what they’re supposed to do when the temperature drops to freezing, and they did it, as these two photographs confirm. The second image is more abstract, which I consider a good thing in my quest for different ways to photograph a familiar subject.

If the frostweed ice phenomenon is new to you, you’re welcome to look back at previous posts to learn more.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 14, 2019 at 4:41 AM

A Mexican hat mitten

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How about a Mexican hat that looked more like a mitten? I saw this strangely forming Ratibida columnifera in Austin six years ago today. Note the spider silk in various places. The colors in the background were from an Indian blanket, Gaillardia pulchella.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 6, 2019 at 4:56 AM

Add some fasciated flower heads

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On April 12th, when I came back along the same path west of Morado Circle that I would end up spending almost three hours on, something caught my attention that I’d walked right past on the outbound stretch: a four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris spp.) that didn’t look right. When I bent down to check it out, I saw that it was fasciated. The stem was flattened and partly concave, and two flower heads were glommed together.

After taking a bunch of pictures from various angles, I noticed another fasciated four-nerve daisy close by (see below). The unusual features in these photos are typical of fasciation. To see other such plants that have appeared here, you can click the “fasciation” tag at the end and scroll through a dozen relevant posts.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 20, 2019 at 4:46 AM

Goldenrod flowering in March

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When I saw a bit of goldenrod flowering in Austin on February 27th I was surprised, and when I found some more in the Southwest Greenway at the old Mueller Airport on March 14th I was surprised again. That’s because normally the earliest we’d expect any Solidago species to flower here is late summer, with the peak coming in the fall. Coincidentally, when I saw the goldenrod flowering in February it was on the same outing that brought you the way-out-of-season Maximilian sunflowers that appeared here earlier this month.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 26, 2019 at 4:37 AM

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