Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘strange

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

A new oddity

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On March 10th I went back to the lot along Balcones Woods Dr. where I’d photographed the stemless evening primrose flowers you saw here not long ago. The highlight of my latest stop was a strange ten-petal anemone flower (Anemone berlandieri) that had two central fruiting columns instead of the one that’s normal.

Sometimes flower parts get doubled as part of the phenomenon called fasciation, which I’ve documented in a bunch of posts over the years, but this time I didn’t see any of the noticeable flattening or distortion or elongation that fasciation typically brings with it. To continue investigating, I returned to the site on March 16th. By then the richly colored sepals had fallen off and dried out or blown away, so I had to search for several minutes to find the plant again. While the new evidence shown below argues against fasciation, what caused the rare splitting of one seed column into two remains a mystery. (I call this conjoining rare because even a local expert like botanist Bill Carr says he’s never seen an anemone do this.)

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 19, 2019 at 4:34 AM

Maximilian sunflowers in February!

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Maximilian sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) are fall-blooming wildflowers—except when they decide to bloom in February. More precisely, the date was February 27th, and the place was the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183. In this perennial species even a plant with dead leaves was giving rise to new flowers.

In both photographs the droplets attest to a morning that had been misty and occasionally even drizzly. In fact I’d gone out hoping to photograph some fog but it had dissipated by the time I reached this site. Speaking of which, I’ve photographed Maximilian sunflowers on this plot of land in their traditional season, and I’ve also photographed common sunflowers there. It was on one of those that I took a picture of a tiny bee fly that got Freshly Pressed in just the second month of this blog way back in 2011. Maybe you’ll be freshly impressed if you take a look at it.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 8, 2019 at 4:33 AM

What is that?

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That’s what we wondered at the Doeskin Ranch on November 24th after Eve spotted this strange thing and waited for me to catch up from my picture-taking so she could point it out. I’d read about insects that cover themselves with objects to act as camouflage, and that’s what appeared to have happened here. To learn the specifics, I turned to local expert Val Bugh, who identified this as “a bagworm moth case (Psychidae). Our big species here is Oiketicus abbotii (if I’m correct in estimating your example is about 2 inches long [she was correct] — the small species are less than half as big). This bag is empty and the exuviae is sticking out the bottom, indicating a male eclosed and flew off. The females never leave their sac.”

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 29, 2018 at 4:39 AM

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