Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Texas

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

Dodder on the prairie

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On the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on April 30th I stopped in several places to photograph dodder (Cuscuta spp.), a parasitic plant that sucks the life out of other plants. Victims in the downward-looking photograph above include square-bud primroses (Calylophus berlandieri), firewheels (Gaillardia pulchella), and antelope-horns milkweed (Asclepias asperula). Here’s a much closer view from the side showing dodder attacking a square-bud primrose:

Parasites repel people, and that’s understandable, but dodder’s yellow-orange-angelhair-pasta-like tangles offer a visual complexity it’s hard for a nature photographer—at least this one—to pass up.

If you want to know more, come read an article of mine about dodder that the Native Plant Society of Texas just published.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 24, 2017 at 4:55 AM

Tumbling flower beetle on American basket-flower

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My first photo stop on May 1st was at the old Merrilltown Cemetery on Burnet Rd., at whose edges in past years I’d photographed plenty of American basket-flowers, Centaurea americana. Though it was still early in the season, a few basket-flowers had opened, and on one of them I found this tumbling flower beetle.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 22, 2017 at 5:00 AM

Euphoria on a Texas thistle

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In a comment yesterday on the recent post showing plants flowering on the Blackland Prairie, Lisa asked whether I had a closeup of a Texas thistle. I answered that I might show a current picture of one in the days ahead. Now let me be more decisive, take the thistle by the thorns*, and post a photograph I took on May 6th of a Cirsium texanum in Cedar Park. Burrowing euphorically into the flower head was a Euphoria kernii beetle.

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* Technically speaking, a thistle has spines or prickles rather than thorns, but you wouldn’t want me to pass up a good alliterative alternative to “take the bull by the horns,” would you?

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 11, 2017 at 4:46 AM

Prairie parsley on the Blackland Prairie

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A couple of posts back you saw an Eastern black swallowtail caterpillar that I found on a prairie parsley plant (Polytaenia nuttallii) when I visited the Blackland Prairie west of Heatherwilde Blvd. in Pflugerville on April 30th. After I went back the next day and explored a different part of the parcel, I came across a great stand of prairie parsley flowering away, as shown above. How’s that for density? The mostly red flowers mixed in, by the way, are Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheels and Indian blankets.

The closer and more downward-looking view below reveals that some of the prairie parsley plants had begun going to seed. The purple flower heads are Texas thistles (Cirsium texanum).

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 10, 2017 at 4:22 AM

Black swallowtail caterpillar

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When I wandered out onto a piece of the Blackland Prairie on the west side of Heatherwilde Blvd. in Pflugerville on April 30th, I noticed that one of the prairie parsley plants (Polytaenia nuttallii) was host to the caterpillar of an Eastern black swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes). You can learn more about this species in a Wikipedia article.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 8, 2017 at 5:01 AM

Texas bindweed flower and tendril

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From April 13th in Great Hills Park, the picture above gives you a downward look at a Texas bindweed flower, Convolvulus equitans. Plants in the genus Convolvulus do indeed convolve, as confirmed by the photograph below, which shows a questing Texas bindweed tendril wrapping itself around some prairie verbena flowers, Glandularia bipinnatifida.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 6, 2017 at 4:50 AM

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