Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘wildflower

A golden basket and a wheel of fire

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A post yesterday in “The World According to Dina” began with a quotation by Cézanne: “La couleur est le lieu où notre cerveau et l’univers se rencontrent,” “Color is the place where our mind and the universe meet.” What a great poetic idea, don’t you think? The post included three of Dina’s photographic experiments in color created by moving the camera while the shutter remained open. Go have a look.

As you know, I’ve also been pursuing color abstraction this year. For me the points of entry have been the colors and shapes of Austin’s wildflowers. The title of today’s post alludes to two of them: the basket-flower, Plectocephalus americanus, and the firewheel, Gaillardia pulchella. The one “basket” and the two firewheels portrayed here were growing in the dedicated wildflower area at the Floral Park Drive entrance to Great Hills Park on July 8th. If you’re burning to read more into the image, the little structures on the basket could be stylized flames.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 11, 2020 at 4:41 AM

A confirmation on upper Bull Creek

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Yesterday you saw two views of a tiny wildflower that got identified for me as Samolus ebracteatus var. cuneatus, known as limewater brookweed and limestone brook-pimpernel. Later it occurred to me that I might have spotted the species last year at the base of a limestone overhang a few miles away along the upper reaches of Bull Creek, so on July 1st I went back to the spot to find out. Sure enough, that was it. The picture above shows you a few of those plants practically lost among some healthy southern maidenhair ferns (Adiantum capillus-veneris) and inland sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium).

If you could float back maybe 30 feet from this ferny nook and look to your left, you’d get the view shown below of the scalloped limestone cliffs along this scenic stretch of Bull Creek. Notice the dead trees hanging upside; that phenomenon was the focus of a post in 2016.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 10, 2020 at 4:42 AM

Limewater brookweed

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Along the Capital of Texas Highway on June 27th I noticed a plant with tiny white flowers of a distinctive shape. I didn’t recognize the wildflower, but thanks to Casey Williams of the Texas Flora group on Facebook I learned that it’s Samolus ebracteatus var. cuneatus, known as limewater brookweed and limestone brook-pimpernel. It was my first identified new species for 2020. While Austin has plenty of plants in the evening primrose family, this is one of the few in the actual primrose family, Primulaceae. Botanist Bill Carr says of the species that it’s “frequent in moist clayey soil around springs and on seepage slopes, often at the base of limestone cliffs.” Sure enough, I found the plant at the base of a limestone cliff that was seeping water. Below is a view looking into one of the flowers, which was only about a quarter of an inch (6mm) across.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 9, 2020 at 4:46 AM

Miscellany

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Apropos of nothing in particular, don’t you love how stilted some spam comments are? Here’s a recent one I got: “A person essentially lend a hand to make significantly posts I would state. This is the first time I frequented your web page and up to now? I surprised with the analysis you made to make this particular submit extraordinary. Magnificent job!” What can I say? I’ve made to make all my submits extraordinary.

I’m reading Charles MacKay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds, which first appeared in 1841. What ever could have made me turn to such a book?

Because of the pandemic, people in nudist resorts are having to wear face masks. Yes, and they’re not happy about it; they say it ruins the experience. Oh well, in this case it’s better to be completely virus-free than completely clothing-free, don’t you think?

And because this is a nature photography blog, I guess I should include a picture. Here from June 6th in my neighborhood is a flowering silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) with some spider silk on it.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 6, 2020 at 4:41 AM

Texas thistle bud with disk florets emerging parallel

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I don’t remember ever seeing an opening Cirsium texanum bud whose disc florets* had emerged so far while keeping together in a bundle of parallel elements.  If any of you who are familiar with this wildflower have seen instances of the emerging florets staying so neatly packed for such a distance, please let me know; maybe it’s not as unusual as I think. I found this roughly cylindrical thistle on June 10th in the town of Manor.

*The Texas thistle, though in the composite botanical family, lacks ray florets. So does its local tribe-mate in that family, the basket-flower.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 1, 2020 at 4:38 AM

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More views of Texas bindweed

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You recently saw a Texas bindweed flower (Convolvulus equitans) with a basket-flower serving as a complementary concentric halo. On June 2nd I was working near a different entrance to Great Hills Park and found that another purple flower, the horsemint (Monarda citriodora), provided an out-of-focus backdrop for a softly questing Texas bindweed tendril. (Google turns up no hits for the phrase softly questing tendril, so today is my latest turn as a neologist.)

Jumping ahead to June 15th, I noticed that a Texas bindweed vine had twined itself around a Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera). Riding the flower head was a bug that entomologists call Calocoris barberi, which I’ve learned is most often found on Mexican hats. As far as I can tell, this bug has no common name, so maybe the Entomological Society of America should hold a contest to come up with one.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 30, 2020 at 4:44 AM

Is this really Austin?

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On the morning of June 10, after I took pictures of wildflowers at a few places on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin, I wandered south and then west to see what I might find by taking a circuitous route home. At one point I gazed out toward the horizon, and rising above the trees I saw a tower that didn’t look like anything I’d expect to find in Austin. It turned out to be the Austin Hindu Temple. I worked my way over there and drove in to take some pictures of the architecture. After I went around to the back I discovered that along the edges of the parking lots native plants were doing their thing, most noticeably basket-flowers (Plectocephalus americanus). I took some pictures of them but it was already late and the wind had come up, so I decided to go back earlier the next morning. That was better because the temperature was cooler, there was no wind, and I even managed to catch the moon directly above the temple. I found that by getting low I could line up individual plants with the temple, which was a different take on my familiar subjects.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 19, 2020 at 4:41 AM

Texas bindweed flower and basket-flower

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In Great Hills Park on June 15th I found a Texas bindweed flower (Convolvulus equitans) close enough to a basket-flower (Plectocephalus americanus) that the latter* could serve as a pretty backdrop for the former. Note the color harmony between the center of the bindweed blossom and the basket-flower beyond it.

* Because of the way we Americans pronounce latter, Britons are amused when they hear us saying what sounds to them like the former and the ladder.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 17, 2020 at 4:47 AM

Beetle on a buffalo gourd flower

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Somehow I haven’t shown a picture of a buffalo gourd flower here since 2011, so it’s high time to make up for the oversight. That making up is made easy by the fact that on May 15th off Lost Horizon Dr. I found a group of flowering Cucurbita foetidissima vines. The species name indicates that this plant has quite an unpleasant smell—at least to people. The odor seems to have had the opposite effect on the little pollen-bedecked beetle shown here that had come from the flower’s interior out onto its rim.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 14, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Two-leaf senna flowers

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From along Yaupon Dr. on the far side of my neighborhood on May 25th comes a wildflower I’ve shown here only once before even though it’s common enough in my part of town. It’s Senna roemeriana, known as two-leaf senna because its leaflets grow in pairs. Notice how prominent the veins become on a wilted flower.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 2, 2020 at 4:33 AM

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