Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘vine

Greenbrier green, greenbrier dead

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Smilax bona-nox; Great Hills Park; January 12th.

And here’s an ever-relevant quotation: “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” — Daniel J. Boorstin, 1962. Boorstin also coined the term pseudo-event.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 3, 2021 at 4:43 AM

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Two views of snow-covered greenbrier leaves

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Smilax bona-nox; Great Hills Park; January 10.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 16, 2021 at 4:32 AM

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Like an alien moon in the coldness of space

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Buffalo gourd, Cucurbita foetidissima, along Lost Horizon Drive on December 29, 2020.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 8, 2021 at 4:37 AM

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Late takes on Clematis drummondii

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I didn’t expect to be photographing one of my favorite subjects so late in the year: Clematis drummondii, a vine known endearingly as old man’s beard. The last times I’d taken pictures of any were late July and early August. In the first week of December I noticed a fluffy colony on the west-side embankment of US 183 just south of Braker Lane, a corner I often drive past as I leave my neighborhood. After telling myself several times that I should check out the Clematis, I finally did on December 10th. The first picture gives you an overview of the colony. You’ll be forgiven if a first glance made you think you were seeing a black and white photograph.

The backlighting that made the colony stand out in the first photograph also served me in the second, a macro view in which you’re seeing a span of maybe 2 inches. In the third picture I took a softer and less contrasty approach. Don’t you love the chaos in the two close views?

And speaking of chaos, did you know that it gave rise to the new word gas? Here’s the explanation in The Online Etymology Dictionary:

1650s, from Dutch gas, probably from Greek khaos “empty space”… The sound of Dutch “g” is roughly equivalent to that of Greek “kh.” First used by Flemish chemist J.B. van Helmont (1577-1644), probably influenced by Paracelsus, who used khaos in an occult sense of “proper elements of spirits” or “ultra-rarified water,” which was van Helmont’s definition of gas.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 24, 2020 at 4:44 AM

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Peppervine turning colors

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As another example of fall foliage in Austin, above is a view from the afternoon of November 10th showing a peppervine (Nekemias arborea) turning colors on a black willow tree (Salix nigra) that it had climbed at the Riata Trace Pond. The next morning I went back and took pictures by different light of another peppervine that had turned even more colorful, as shown below. About halfway up the left edge of the second picture you may notice some of the vine’s little fruits that had darkened as they ripened. Peppervine, which some people mistake for poison ivy, grows in the southeastern United States. If you’d like a closer look at the vine’s leaves, you can check out a post from the first months of this blog.

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as publick Liberty, without Freedom of Speech; which is the Right of every Man, as far as by it, he does not hurt or controul the Right of another: and this is the only Check it ought to suffer, and the only Bounds it ought to know. / This sacred Privilege is so essential to free Governments, that the Security of Property, and the Freedom of Speech always go together; and in those wretched Countries where a man cannot call his Tongue his own, he can scarce call any Thing else his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” — Benjamin Franklin (synthesizing other people’s thoughts), 1722.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 22, 2020 at 4:38 AM

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White: familiar and unfamiliar

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On August 18th I spent time at Raab Park in Round Rock and photographed several things that were white. A very familiar one was Clematis drummondii, whose feathery strands you see above. (You may remember that I also made portraits of some actual feathers there.) Near the end of my stay I noticed a little group of low plants I wasn’t familiar with. I took pictures and hoped that later on I could figure out what I’d photographed. Thanks to a timely post in the Texas Wildflowers Facebook group, I’ll say that the plants seem to have been Nealley’s globe amaranth, Gomphrena nealleyi. Other species I’ve seen online do have a more globe-like inflorescence than this one. The scientific name of this species pays tribute to Greenleaf Cilley Nealley (1846-1896), a Texan botanist—and look how appropriate his first name was for the profession he pursued.

Nealley’s globe amaranth normally grows in south Texas, so perhaps it’s expanding its range. Botanist Bill Carr says it’s rare in Travis County, and the USDA map doesn’t have it marked for Williamson County, which is where I found my specimens. And speaking of globe amaranth, here’s a quotation for today:

“When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.” — John Muir, Travels in Alaska  (1915).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 26, 2020 at 4:38 AM

Limited-focus abstract views of Clematis drummondii strands

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On August 22nd I went to Great Hills Park and spent quite a while among a group of Clematis drummondii plants that had produced their characteristic strands. Because of rain the day before, some of the strands had stuck together, especially at their tips. In both of today’s pictures limited focus led to abstract portraits that are pretty different from the many other pictures of this species that have appeared here over the years.

Instead of a quotation or a fact, how about a question? Okay, that was already a question, but not the one I had in mind. Here it is: which independent country has the lowest population density? (I included the word independent because Greenland, which is the least densely populated geographic entity, is a territory of Denmark.) You’ll find the answer at the end of the next post.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 20, 2020 at 3:50 AM

Clematis drummondii after the rain

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On August 3rd we finally had some rain, so on the morning of the 4th I went down to Great Hills Park with my macro lens and a ring flash to see if I could get some good pictures of raindrop-covered plants. In particular I had in mind Clematis drummondii, which I don’t recall ever before photographing with drops on it. This vine’s fibers often have a metallic-looking sheen to them, which the flash enhanced. Below, an enlargement from a different picture gives you a good look at raindrops on metalically shining Clematis strands.

And speaking of metals, here’s a relevant quotation for today: “I did not know that mankind were suffering for want of gold. I have seen a little of it. I know that it is very malleable, but not so malleable as wit. A grain of gold will gild a great surface, but not so much as a grain of wisdom.” — Henry David Thoreau, “Life Without Principle,” 1863.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 29, 2020 at 4:39 AM

A torch-like take on a familiar subject

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If 2020 has been a good year for new takes on Mexican hats, it has also turned into a good year for novelty with Clematis drummondii. This portrait from July 29th on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin is unlike any I’d done in my two decades exploring the most prolific of our three native Clematis species. You can see that I played an opening bundle of silky fibers off against already loosened strands a little further away. Because the vertical bundle strikes this former New Yorker as rather torch-like, for today’s quotation let’s have the poem “The New Colossus,” which Emma Lazarus wrote in 1883 to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for the giant statue* that France had given to the United States to commemorate the country’s declared independence in 1776:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities** frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

UPDATE: You can listen to the famous part of the sonnet set to music by an immigrant to the United States, Israel Beilis, better known as Irving Berlin.

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* The French title of the statue that sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi designed was Liberté éclairant le monde, Liberty Enlightening the World, but Americans know it as the Statue of Liberty.

** The twin cities were New York and Brooklyn, which weren’t consolidated until 1899.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 21, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Color comes to Clematis

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Clematis drummondii flowers and the lustrous fibers that emerge from the ones that get fertilized don’t have a lot of intrinsic color. For these three portraits I’ve used external colors to enhance my subjects. In the picture above of a female flower, the blue came from a small pond on the Blackland Prairie on July 29th, and the brown and green from the land on the far and near sides of the water, respectively. In the second portrait, made during the same outing, I used a shallow depth of field to focus on (in both senses) the seemingly metallic sheen at the base of a flower beginning to produce silky fibers. A nearby sunflower, Helianthus annuus, provided a golden aura to accompany the silvery strands.

The last picture, taken in my neighborhood on July 11th, shows the swirling fibers that this species is best known for. I got low and aimed at an angle that let me include some blue from the sky.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 12, 2020 at 4:26 AM

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