Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘yellow

A closer look at four-nerve daisies

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After showing you three good colonies of four-nerve daises in the last post, I thought I should remind you what an individual flower head of this species (Tetraneuris linearifolia) looks like. When I searched through my pictures from April 12th along the right-of-way under the power lines west of Morado Circle, I found this one, which has the advantage of including two stages of a four-nerve daisy. The stage on the right, which follows the one on the left, typifies the way the central disk tends to bulge upward at the same time as the ray flowers fold back, lose some of their yellow, and take on a papery appearance.

In case you’re wondering about the curious configuration behind the two daisies, it was the flower globe of an antelope-horns milkweed (Asclepias asperula) that lay far enough in the background for me to render it out of focus yet still retain its pattern of light and dark. Now that I’ve identified the milkweed I guess I’ll have to show you a picture of some in its own right. You see the globe below when several flowers had opened and a greater number of buds were still to open. The accompanying white flowers are corn salad (Valerianella spp.).

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 2, 2019 at 4:38 AM

The best year for four-nerve daisies

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The four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris linearifolia and scaposa) is among the most common wildflowers in Austin, with a few occasionally blooming even in the winter. As with so many other wildflowers, they appear in their greatest numbers in the spring. That said, in the two decades I’ve been paying attention to nature in central Texas, I don’t recall seeing four-nerve daisy colonies as large and dense as some of the ones that have sprung up here this year.

I photographed the first and second groups on the east side of Yaupon Dr. on April 26th. The rocky ground is typical of my Great Hills neighborhood, thanks to the limestone substrate in the Edwards Plateau.

I’d come across the colony shown below on the west side of Spicewood Springs Rd. on April 20th. I think it’s the hugest I’ve ever seen.

UPDATE: In the previous post, the majority preferred the first photograph of Heller’s plantain.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 30, 2019 at 4:41 AM

Add some fasciated flower heads

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On April 12th, when I came back along the same path west of Morado Circle that I would end up spending almost three hours on, something caught my attention that I’d walked right past on the outbound stretch: a four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris spp.) that didn’t look right. When I bent down to check it out, I saw that it was fasciated. The stem was flattened and partly concave, and two flower heads were glommed together.

After taking a bunch of pictures from various angles, I noticed another fasciated four-nerve daisy close by (see below). The unusual features in these photos are typical of fasciation. To see other such plants that have appeared here, you can click the “fasciation” tag at the end and scroll through a dozen relevant posts.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 20, 2019 at 4:46 AM

Galaxies of buttercups

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On April 4th I drove around on the Blackland Prairie east of Round Rock to see what nature was doing there. On my way back west toward the town I followed University Blvd., where at one point I noticed that a slew of small yellow flowers had colonized a drying creek bed. Barbed wire prevented me from making my way down to see what the flowers were, but not far away on the other side of the road I found an equally dense colony of the same wildflowers that I was able to walk up to. They turned out to be small buttercups of some sort, perhaps Ranunculus hispidus var. hispidus, formerly known as Ranunculus carolinianus.

This second colony was near the entrance to a recently built community called Vizcaya. As I took my pictures, a mower approached, and of course I wondered whether he would cut down all the flowers, as so often happens. I was relieved when I saw him mow right up to the edge of the colony but leave the flowers untouched. Someone still has a brain.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 15, 2019 at 4:48 AM

Texas toadflax, Indian paintbrush, and Nueces coreopsis lead to some philosophical musings

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Here’s some Texas toadflax (Nuttallanthus texanus) with Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa) and Nueces coreopsis (Coreopsis nuecensis) on the grounds of the Christ Lutheran Church in New Berlin on March 18th.

Not wanting want to slight the two species in the background, I’ve added one portrait apiece of those other wildflowers photographed on the same visit to the churchyard.

This reminds me now of the venerable aphorism—so venerable I just made it up*—that every portrayal is a betrayal. In other words, a portrait is only a person’s representation, necessarily limited, of something else; a portrait isn’t the portrayed thing itself. We needn’t even get that philosophical: these pictures obviously differ from the way I saw the scenes with my eyes and brain when I was there. I’ve processed each photograph with software to make it look pleasing, and that also is mutable: sometimes even by the next day I readjust the settings because my sensibilities have changed. The third image, processed four days later than the first, came out moodier. People in the milieu of “art” photography might exhibit the third photo but not the first: when knocking on those gallery doors, brightness need not apply.

* After the phrase “Every portrayal is a betrayal” popped into my head, I did a Google search for that exact phrase and got a single hit, in Humid, All Too Humid by Dominic Pettman. Some might say there’s nothing new under the sun. Well, sometimes there is, but not this time.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 12, 2019 at 4:45 AM

At what cost Cost?

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All that Cost cost us on April 2nd when we visited the tiny town in Gonzales County some 90 miles south of home was time and gasoline. Behind the First Shot Monument we found a great mix of Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa), Texas dandelions (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus), and Texas stork’s bills (Erodium texanum), as shown in the first photo.

While walking around I noticed two contiguous Texas dandelions, one the usual color and the other a yellow-white combination. I hope you find this touching pair touching.

Also at no extra cost I got the chance to see a few pincushion daisies, Gaillardia suavis, a species that for whatever reason rarely puts in an appearance in Austin even though it ranges from Mexico to Kansas. Each solitary flower head grows at the tip of a bare stalk as much as two-and-a-half feet long. Add this wildflower to the svelte greenthread and gaura you saw here recently.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 10, 2019 at 4:46 AM

Huisache daisy colony

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Along Priest Rd. off S. Loop 1604 southwest of Elmendorf on March 27th we found this extraordinary colony of huisache daisies, Amblyolepis setigera. According to Garden Style San Antonio, “Huisache daisy is so called because it often grows in thick stands under huisache and other chaparral bushes, forming a solid blanket of gold.” Often isn’t always, and in this case I don’t recall a huisache tree anywhere in sight. In the United States these daisies grow only in Texas; they’re also found in Mexico. Mixed in with the huisache daisies in this stand you’ll notice some verbenas, and in the background the ubiquitous Indian paintbrushes, Castilleja indivisa.

The huisache daisy has appeared only once before in these pages, in a closeup with a tumbling flower beetle.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 6, 2019 at 4:47 AM

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