Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Texas

I thought I might have missed them

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We got back from New Zealand on March 9th. In driving around my Austin neighborhood in the days after that, I didn’t see any cedar sage (Salvia roemeriana) flowering in the accustomed place along Morado Circle so I thought I might have missed this year’s flowers while I was away. Toward the end of the month I finally saw one, and on April 1st I photographed a few beneath some “cedar” (Ashe juniper) trees on Floral Park Dr., as you see above. I found even more in another place a week later, and still more in Great Hills Park on April 15th.

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Even after six weeks, the Dauntless Duo has barely recovered from all the running around we did in New Zealand. Nevertheless, as of today we’re traveling again, so there’ll be fewer posts for the “foreseeable” future. (I used quotation marks because in a recent talk about the American Revolution historian David McCullough reminded people that the future isn’t foreseeable.)

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 19, 2017 at 4:48 AM

What f/2.8 will get you

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A large aperture of f/2.8 will get you a soft portrait like this one of a rain-lily bud (Cooperia pedunculata) on Floral Park Dr. in my neighborhood on April 1st.

I threw away many of the pictures I took of this bud because I hadn’t managed to get enough in focus to please me. In this frame I was surprised that I got good focus not only on the nearest surface of the bud but also on the tip of the maroon sheath.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 14, 2017 at 5:00 AM

Bouchetia erecta

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March 30th was an unusually cool day in Austin: high 50s in the morning and a maximum around 76° in the afternoon. With weather like that bound not to last long in this land of heat, out I went to the natural area in my neighborhood that I’ve often visited along Yaupon Dr. beneath the large power lines. There in a limestone meadow I found a small white flower nestled up against the even smaller pink flowers of some wild garlic, Allium drummondii. Thanks to Joe Marcus, I learned that the little white flower is Bouchetia erecta, a member of the nightshade family. This species, which is endemic to Texas, goes by the common names erect bouchetia and painted tongue.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 10, 2017 at 4:54 AM

A multitude of white

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On March 30th in a meadow underlain with limestone I found a dense colony of flowering Valerianella amarella, known by the strange common name of corn salad. By comparing the size of the prickly pear cactus pads, you can see that corn salad flowers are small. In fact they’re even smaller than you might think, because each dab of white in the picture above is actually a cluster of little flowers. Here’s a closeup of one cluster:

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 6, 2017 at 4:55 AM

Half a year out of sync

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It had happened before. Still it startled me, as if an April Fool’s Day trick. The field guides say that Ageratina havanensis (a bush known as shrubby boneset, Havana snakeroot, white mistflower, white shrub mistflower, and just plain mistflower) blooms in the fall. Nevertheless, here it was putting out flowers in my neighborhood on April 1, half a year out of sync.

My encounter came late in the afternoon, with the sky heavily overcast and the wind blowing. Like it or not, that combination called for flash.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 3, 2017 at 5:02 AM

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Pale orange sand dunes in El Paso

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Speaking of dunes, as I have the last couple of times, I hadn’t known there are pale orange sand dunes on the east side of El Paso (Texas). There are. They made for a pleasant surprise along US 62 on the morning of November 9th last year, when dramatic clouds added to my appreciation.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 1, 2017 at 5:00 AM

A double-headed Mexican hat

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I’d been keeping my eye on a stretch of median in Morado Circle in the Great Hills neighborhood of Austin where I live. At some point the median had been mowed, but now in the spring the vegetation was reasserting itself. A week ago I noticed some Mexican hat plants (Ratibida columnifera) coming up, and when I drove by on March 26th I saw that several were already flowering. The next day I went and sat myself down with them. The flower head shown here caught my attention and I took some pictures of it. Only when I went to look from the opposite side did I discover another central column jutting out at roughly a right angle to the one shown here. In other words, this was an unusual flower head, a twin. While I was still there I didn’t get the impression of fasciation, but in this photograph the stem does seem a little wide and flattened, so perhaps fasciation explains the doubling-up after all.

The two adjacent sets of ray flowers formed a broad collar that isolated one central column from the other. I looked from various angles but couldn’t find a good way to photograph the two columns together. In the end, just for the sake of documentation, I took the picture below.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 29, 2017 at 4:13 AM

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