Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘yellow

Yellow and blue

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While at a construction site in southern Round Rock on August 1st I photographed central Texas’s answer to the pussy willow, the golden dalea (Dalea aurea). I also made a portrait of a sunflower (Helianthus annuus).

As I said, this was a construction site, and across the lower section of the sunflower picture you see part of a long ridge of earth that bulldozers had heaped up. In a few of my pictures I made that ridge a subject in its own right, overflown and enhanced by the day’s wispy clouds.

And here’s a tip for today: I recently stumbled across the Good News Network, which lives up to its name by providing good news from around the world. That’s a much-need balance to the endless tales of woe and outrage that so many other news outlets feature. Check it out and see what you think.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 31, 2020 at 4:43 AM

A bitterweed bud and bloom and beyond and a bee

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It’s been a couple of years since I showed you the common wildflower known as yellow bitterweed, Helenium amarum var. amarum. The native-bee-bedecked portrait above is from August 18th in Round Rock. At the same time I took what I believe are my first pictures ever of a bud in this species, so here’s one of those:

Toward the opposite end of the development cycle, here’s what a seed head looks like when it’s decomposing:

Many parts of the United States are experiencing a summer drought now. People longing for cooler and wetter times may find the following cold-weather fact welcome, and probably also surprising: if a lake has a solid covering of ice 12 inches deep, an 8-ton truck can drive on it. If you want to know how much weight other thicknesses of ice can bear, check out this chart. Notice that the relationship isn’t linear: doubling the thickness allows the ice to bear a lot more than twice the weight.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 26, 2020 at 4:38 AM

Two takes on buffalo bur

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I see buffalo bur (Solanum rostratum) fairly often in Austin, yet I haven’t shown any pictures of it here since 2015. Today’s post puts an end to the five-year hiatus. You may notice the flower’s similarity in shape, but not color, to that of its genus-mate silverleaf nightshade, which appeared here recently. The picture below, also from west of Morado Circle on July 5th, shows you the prickly seed capsules that put the bur in buffalo bur, and caution in people who get close. The flowers in the background were two-leaf senna.

Would you like to know what the British conductor Sir Thomas Beecham had to say about the harpsichord?
Sure you would. He said it “sounds like two skeletons copulating on a corrugated tin roof.”

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 9, 2020 at 4:27 AM

Two takes on square-bud primrose flowers

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Along the Capital of Texas Highway on June 13th I found some bright yellow flowers of Oenothera berlandieri, known descriptively as square-bud primroses and poetically as sundrops. How could I not get down low and make abstract portraits of such sunny wildflowers? The first picture shown here plays up the idea of “a light shining in the darkness.” In the second, I was intrigued by the way one of the plant’s leaves curled into a spiral and turned reddish-brown as it dried out. A spider had been intrigued enough to hang out inside the spiral.

Unrelated proverb for today: You can’t unring a bell.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 30, 2020 at 4:41 AM

One shade the more, one ray the less

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As you’ve heard, I’ve been pursuing abstraction a lot this year. My entry into the field has been primarily through the shapes and colors of Austin’s native wildflowers; the two shown here, both members of the sunflower family, are the Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera) and the firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella). The title of today’s post is a line from Byron that conveniently lets me allude to the one remaining ray flower on the Mexican hat, which I photographed in the little wildflower area at the Floral Park Drive entrance to Great Hills Park on July 8th. And below from the same outing is an edge-centric, eccentric (ex-centric, off-center) portrait of a firewheel in its own right and my own rite.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 27, 2020 at 4:39 AM

Not parallel but parralena

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For all the yellow composite wildflowers that have appeared here over the past nine years, say hello to a little one with an unwieldy scientific name that’s making its debut today: Thymophylla pentachaeta var. puberula. Marshall Enquist’s book uses the common name parralena, and now I see online that other names are golden dyssodia, dogweed, and even the quaint fiveneedle pricklyleaf. Speaking of leaves, the ones on this plant have a resinous fragrance that I find pleasant. Botanist Bill Carr notes that this wildflower is “common in dry clay, marl, gravel or sand, often on compacted soils of roadsides.” Sure enough, the parralena flowers that I photographed on June 13th were growing on dry clay at the edge of Capital of Texas Highway. To give you a sense of scale, let me add that each flower head is about half an inch (13mm) across. Below is another parralena flower head that I noticed had nestled against an arc of dry grass, or the grass against it.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 19, 2020 at 4:21 AM

Turnabout is fair play

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On June 23rd I took pictures, for only the second time ever, at the end of Vaught Ranch Rd. Not surprisingly, I saw mostly the same species of wildflowers there as I had the year before. The two shown in today’s post are Lygodesmia texana, known as the Texas the skeleton plant, and Wedelia acapulcensis var. hispida, called zexmenia (or as many a local botanist or native plant person likes to joke, sex mania). They say that turnabout is fair play, so you get to see each flower head as both subject and background glow. Notice that zexmenia has more orange in its flowers than most of the other DYCs (darn yellow composites) in central Texas.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 14, 2020 at 4:43 AM

A good sunflower colony

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Click to enlarge.

A recent post focused on two sunflowers in a large colony. Now here’s a panorama showing how wild sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) can take over a field. I found this bright yellow colony on the Blackland Prairie along Gregg-Manor Rd. east of TX 130 on June 10th. Texas knows how to do wildflowers, yes indeed.

I’m tempted to say the way I cropped this photograph shows the influence of my Indian friend Pano Rama, but I would never say such a thing.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 15, 2020 at 7:45 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

All yellow

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Normally the flower heads of Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheel and Indian blanket, have red rays with yellow tips. Every once in a while you get a flower head whose rays are completely yellow. In the full-size version of the first picture I counted four of them (and could distinguish them from the yellow greenthread flower heads mixed in). The second photograph gives you a much closer look at an all-yellow firewheel. Both views are from a “vacant” lot in northwest Austin on May 19.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 10, 2020 at 4:31 AM

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