Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘wildflowers

Not from now and less not from now

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I didn’t see much blazing-star (Liatris mucronata) flowering in the fall of 2018. Maybe it wasn’t a great year for the species or maybe I wasn’t in the right places at the right times. On September 26th at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center I did get to make this bright portrait of a blazing-star flower spike contrasting with some prairie goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis) happily out of focus behind it.

Several times in the months that followed I managed to photograph the late stage of this Liatris species, which often makes me imagine a fuzzy burned-out candle. Below from November 24th at the Doeskin Ranch is a picture of one with seed heads of little bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium) surrounding it.

And speaking of figurative candles, how could we not recall the opening “fig”
from Edna St. Vincent Millay‘s A Few Figs from Thistles?

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 11, 2019 at 4:42 AM

If you’ve got it, flaunt it

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The “it” in this case is a wildflower in January. Here from yesterday afternoon is a flower head of goldeneye, Viguiera dentata, growing wild in my neighborhood.

If you’re interested in the craft of photography, this picture is an example of points 1, 2, and especially 6 in About My Techniques.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 5, 2019 at 4:52 AM

A differently shaped and colored wildflower in December

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In case you thought yesterday’s picture of bright yellow camphorweed barely counted for wildflowers in December because the flowering came only three days into the month, here’s a picture of a droplet-covered prairie verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida) on the misty morning of December 18th at the Riata Trace Pond.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 24, 2018 at 6:59 AM

Yeah, we still have some wildflowers in December.

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A bright flower head of camphorweed (Heterotheca subaxillaris) at the Arbor Walk Pond on December 3.
No “weed,” this.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 23, 2018 at 4:44 AM

Ageratina havanensis does its thing

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A great floral attractor of insects in the fall is Ageratina havanensis, known as fragrant mist flower, shrubby boneset, and thoroughwort, and apparently in Spanish as the barba de viejo (old man’s beard) that corresponds to the fuzzier stage the inflorescence takes on after it goes to seed.

Click to enlarge.

The insect shown above working these flowers in my neighborhood on November 2nd is a syrphid fly, which you can see gains some protection by mimicking a bee. The stray seeds with silk attached came from the adjacent poverty weed bush that graciously put in an appearance here a couple of weeks ago. Below you’ll find a much larger and more colorful insect that was visiting the flowers, a queen butterfly, Danaus gilippus.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 4, 2018 at 4:56 AM

More than I bargained for

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On October 27th I was driving east on Louis Henna Blvd. in Round Rock when I caught a glimpse of some Maximilian sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) way up at the top of a tall mound of earth at a construction site. After parking on Roundville Ln. I walked around to photograph the sunflowers, as shown here:

I’d barely taken any pictures, though, when I noticed a raptor perched on a highway sign not far away. I put on my longest lens and managed to get two pictures before the bird glided down to the ground in a place where I couldn’t easily photograph it; then it flew away altogether.

Knowing practically nothing about birds, I checked with Shannon in Houston, who said she thought it was most likely either a “Red-tailed hawk (all season) or Swainson’s Hawk (immature, migratory),” and that she was leaning toward the former.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 26, 2018 at 4:46 AM

Multitudinous snout butterflies and two kinds of white*

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Where the previous post showed you a close and then an even closer view of an individual American snout butterfly (Libytheana carinanta), look at the swarm I found on some frostweed flowers (Verbesina virginica) on November 1st along River Place Blvd. I count at least two dozen butterflies in this picture. The autumn of 2018 has proved a good season for the species, which I’ve continued seeing in other parts of Austin as well.

This multitude of snout butterflies came as a bonus because what I’d stopped to photograph was some poverty weed (Baccharis neglecta), as shown below with another bonus in the form of native grape vines (Vitis spp.) climbing on the bushes. If you look carefully, you may also pick out one or two or three bits of breeze-wafted poverty weed fluff in the air; that’s how this species spreads its seeds.

* A search for “multitudinous snout butterflies” got no hits, so you are probably the first people in the history of the universe (after me) to be reading that phrase. Happy novelty to you.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 24, 2018 at 4:37 PM

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