Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Williamson County

North Fork of the San Gabriel River

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On November 30th we spent some time on the North Fork of the San Gabriel River near Tejas Camp in Williamson County. For lack of rain the river had gone down a lot, revealing bedrock that’s more often hidden. The dropping water level left some algae draped over a rock, which the sun did a good job of spotlighting:

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 20, 2020 at 4:35 AM

Prairie agalinis has been out for some time now

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So much has been going on in 2020 that I’ve neglected to show you any prairie agalinis, Agalinis heterophylla, which has been out in various places for a good while now. The first time I photographed any this year was September 16th, along the North Fork [of the] San Gabriel River in Williamson County, as shown in today’s portrait. These flowers vary in length from about 0.75 to 1.25 inches.

I don’t know about you, but when I look at the larger-spotted, ellipse-shaped part of this flower, my brain tends to see it as concave even though I know it’s convex. Call it a floral equivalent of a Necker cube. Oh, what a world of illusions we live in. And in lieu of a quotation today, you’re welcome to turn your eyes and brain loose on some more optical illusions.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 31, 2020 at 4:30 AM

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

South Fork of the San Gabriel River

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As often as I’ve photographed along the North Fork of the San Gabriel River at Tejas Camp in Williamson County, I’d never photographed along the South Fork till September 18th, when we visited the relatively recent Garey Park in the southwest corner of Georgetown.

All three of these landscape pictures show the eons-long erosive effect of water streaming against rock.

In case you’re wondering about the yellow-green stuff at the edge of the water, it’s duckweed (Lemna minor), which forms floating mats. On one such mat I found a tiny grasshopper.

Click to enlarge.

Here’s an unrelated thought for today: “Dear, sweet, unforgettable childhood! Why does that irrevocable time, forever departed, seem brighter, more festive, and richer than it actually was?” — Anton Chekhov, The Bishop (1902).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 6, 2020 at 4:24 AM

From river primrose to eryngo

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In the previous post I showed you the flowers of a native plant that was new to me, river primrose (Oenothera jamesii), bunches of which I found along the north fork of the San Gabriel River in Williamson County on September 16th. The yellow flowers are large, so you won’t be surprised to see, as you do above, that the plant’s buds are also sizable, maybe 4 inches long in this case. But what, you ask, is that rich purple in the background? It’s eryngo (Eryngium leavenworthii), whose inflorescences some people liken to little purple pineapples, and others to thistles, given how spiny the plant is. Strangely, though, eryngo turns out to be in the same botanical family, Apiaceae, as parsley, dill, anise, cumin, and celery. Because I’ve teased you with eryngo as a background glow, I guess I’ll have to show you one in its own right.

In an unrelated fact for today, see if you can get your arms around the fact that embracery is a legal term meaning ‘an attempt to influence a court, jury, etc., corruptly, by promises, entreaties, money, entertainments, threats, or other improper inducements.’

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 27, 2020 at 4:34 AM

A new tall yellow

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On September 16th we drove the 25 miles or so to Tejas Camp in Williamson County. Walking along the edge of the great meadow there, we saw nary a flower of any kind, just the opposite of the way the field had looked in the late spring of 2016 when it was covered with wildflowers. Still we kept on. Things changed abruptly after we followed a side path over to the north fork of the San Gabriel River. The parts of the river bed without flowing water had become hospitable ground to many kinds of native plants. The most conspicuous, because some of them were taller than a person and had plenty of long-stemmed yellow flowers on them, was river primrose (Oenothera jamesii), which I don’t remember ever seeing before. Below is a close-up of one flower.

A view from the side is also worthwhile.

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “Deliberate much before you speak or act, because you can’t call back what you’ve said or done.” — Epictetus, Fragments.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 26, 2020 at 4:31 AM

Green milkweed flowers and pods

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From May 29th at the Benbrook Ranch Park in Leander you’re seeing the flowers and pods of green milkweed, Asclepias viridis. And how about those great clouds? Because I took these pictures only three minutes apart, the clouds hadn’t changed that much, so if you compare you can still match some of them up.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 16, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Swirly, wispy, fleecy clouds

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Thanks to a tip from Jason Frels, on the morning of May 29th Eve and drove some 25 minutes north to  Leander, a fast-growing suburb of Austin, so we could go walking for the first time in Benbrook Ranch Park. The swirly and wispy clouds that accompanied us the whole time kept changing and forming intricate designs that enticed me to take lots of pictures of them in their own right, as shown above. I also welcomed the chance to play other things off against them, like the dead tree below.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 5, 2020 at 4:31 AM

Nine years

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Click to enlarge.

Nine years ago today I put up this blog’s first post, which featured a basket-flower (Plectocephalus americanus) with a soft cloud beyond it. On May 10th of this year I drove to the site in Round Rock where I made that important portrait in 2000 and was relieved to find basket-flowers and others still flourishing there on the Blackland Prairie. Then I drove a quarter-mile east to a site that had later become my favorite for basket-flowers, given the expanse and density of the basket-flower colonies that I found there in most years. Alas, the entire site had been razed in preparation for development! Today’s picture shows how things looked there in the spring of 2014, and how I’ll always remember the place.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 4, 2020 at 4:24 AM

Basket-flower colony on the Blackland Prairie

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Click to enlarge.

From May 10th, here’s a happy colony of basket-flowers (Plectocephalus americanus) on a piece of the Blackland Prairie at the southern edge of Round Rock. The numerous yellow flowers farther back are known as sundrops or square-bud primroses (Oenothera capillifolia). People call the red flowers firewheels and Indian blankets (Gaillardia pulchella). The white flowers in the distance are prairie bishop (Bifora americana).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 14, 2020 at 4:41 AM

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