Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘wildflowers

An octagon in the eleventh month that proclaims itself the ninth

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Hot on the heels of the out-of-season Indian paintbrush you saw last time, here’s another prodigy. It’s the Engelmann daisy, Engelmannia peristenia, a spring wildflower that normally has done its thing no later than July, but that I photographed in northeast Austin on November 13th. Engelmann daisies typically have eight ray flowers, as in this picture, and there’s a tendency for them to curl under, as you also see here.

If you’re wondering why September, October, November, and December, whose names indicate that they’re the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth month, are actually the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth month, it’s because the Roman calendar originally began in March. January and February got added later, bumping the already-named months two places further down the line. And here’s another related tidbit: before July and August got appropriated for Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar, those months had been called Quintilis and Sextilis, whose names proclaimed them the fifth and sixth month in the original calendar.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 1, 2020 at 4:35 AM

Red of a sort that shouldn’t be here now

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The warm autumn in Austin this year led to the blooming of some plants that normally wait till spring. Among those were three Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa) that we found in the wetland pond section of Barkley Meadows Park in Del Valle on November 12th. Below is a view looking straight down.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 30, 2020 at 4:35 AM

Thankfully some Maximilian sunflowers are still flowering

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“Linger,” said the warm weather to the Maximilian sunflowers, and they listened. You’re looking at Helianthus maximiliani along Impact Way in Pflugerville on November 20th.

A happy dose of sunshiny yellow to you all.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 26, 2020 at 4:45 AM

Twi-light, yet not twilight

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On the morning of November 15th I spent a good couple of hours in a field on the north side of US 290 east of Bois d’Arc Rd. in Manor. Making that piece of prairie fabulous to behold and photograph were the extensive colonies of goldenrod (Solidago sp.) and bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus) that had gone into their fluffy autumn stage. In some places the two colonies were mostly distinct; in others they interwove, as you see here. Notice in the lower right of the top picture that one goldenrod plant was still flowering.

The post’s title interweaves etymology and photography. The word twilight means literally ‘two lights,’ the two being the fading light of day and the oncoming darkness of night. I took these two pictures not in different parts of the day—they were only seven minutes apart—but in different parts of the field and, more importantly, facing in opposite directions. The first photograph shows the effects of the morning sunlight falling directly on the subject; the second picture looks in the direction of the sun, whose light on the way to the camera passed through much of the fluff and in so doing outlined the seed heads. The first landscape is softer and more colorful, the second starker and more dramatic. Both have their appeal.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 25, 2020 at 4:32 AM

Bluebonnet in the fall

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The warm autumn in Austin this year has led to various “spring” wildflowers blooming out of season. So it was for this bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on October 23rd, which had risen from its basal rosette and was already forming an inflorescence. The behaving-as-expected, which is to say seasonal, flowers in the background were purple fall asters (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium). Oh well, now I guess I’ll have to break down and show you a picture of them in their own right, too.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 21, 2020 at 4:21 AM

Red and yellow for this fellow

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At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on October 23rd, how could I not be drawn to clusters of red possumhaw fruits (Ilex decidua) in front of some Maximilian sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani)? If you’re in a gloomy place, I hope this combination brightens up your day.

And here’s a relevant quotation for today: “Almost every person, from childhood, has been touched by the untamed beauty of wildflowers.” — Lady Bird Johnson.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 19, 2020 at 4:34 AM

Gayfeather fresh, gayfeather gone to seed

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On October 23rd we visited the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for the first time in 2020. While some gayfeather (Liatris punctata var. mucronata) was still flowering, as shown above, most had already gone to seed. The yellow flowers mixed in were partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata).

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “Innovation is the child of freedom and the parent of prosperity.” — Matt Ridley in How Innovation Works, 2020.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 18, 2020 at 4:36 AM

Barkley Meadows Park

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On November 6th we made our first visit ever to Barkley Meadows Park in Del Valle. A whole lot was going on, botanically speaking, near the western shore of the Berdoll Pond there, as you see in the more-is-more picture above. The myriad small stars throughout are a type of aster, Symphyotrichum subulatum. The fluffy seed heads to the right of center are marsh fleabane, Pluchea odorata. The green saplings are black willow trees, Salix negra. The brown stalks in the back are slenderpod sesbania, Sesbania herbacea, which you saw more fully last time. The tan arcs front and center are the dry leaves of a young cattail, Typha sp. The second picture shows a black willow that had gotten taller.

And below is a closer look at some marsh fleabane gone to seed;
call it a Rembrandtesque botanical version of “Starry Night.”

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 17, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Standing cypress out of season

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From May through June is when we normally expect the bright red flowers of Ipomopsis rubra, known as standing cypress and Texas plume. Yet there it was flowering away on October 23rd at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The purple in the background came from prairie verbena, Glandularia bipinnatifida, a species I see blooming here for much of the year.

And here’s a related quotation for today:

Life moves out of a red flare of dreams
Into a common light of common hours,
Until old age brings the red flare again.
—William Butler Yeats, The Land of Heart’s Desire, 1894.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 14, 2020 at 4:36 AM

A new place for Maximilian sunflowers

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On October 19th, while driving home from Central Market along W. 45th St., I glimpsed a stand of Maximilian sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) on the west bank of Shoal Creek. Never having noticed any of those sunflowers there in other years, I went back the next morning to see what I could do with them. Getting in there wasn’t easy, but I scampered over rocks and pushed my way through a jungle of giant ragweed that had sprung up in the mostly dry creek bed. Then I struggled up the rough slope to get to the sunflowers. The first picture shows some of them beneath a line of paloverde saplings (Parkinsonia aculeata) that had spring up at the edge of the embankment.

Maximilian sunflowers often stand tall. They often lean, too, as in the second picture. It’s also not unusual to see a stalk that has bent so far over that it ended up with its flowers near or even on the ground. That’s what you see in the third photograph. Notice the narrowleaf sumpweed (Iva angustifolia), which had formed a carpet across the plateau atop the creek’s bank, along with some asters. The sunflower stalk’s sinuosity and the redness of its lower portion got my attention.

Below you get a better look at how colorful a Maximilian sunflower stalk sometimes is.

As of today there are still some Maximilian sunflowers brightening up central Texas.  

And here’s a relevant quotation: “My heart found its home long ago in the beauty, mystery, order and disorder of the flowering earth.” — Claudia Alta Taylor Johnson (known as Lady Bird), in a letter in Native Plants magazine, Fall 2002 issue.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 13, 2020 at 4:33 AM

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