Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘yucca

Well, come on, yucca, let’s do the twist

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It’s the distinctive torsion that gives the central Texas endemic called twistleaf yucca (Yucca rupicola) its common name. I can’t explain the bits of red but they add interest to this otherwise yellow-green portrait from northwest Austin on July 13th.

Speaking of twistleaf yucca, I just realized I’d never shown you a portrait of one I made way back on May 1st with a four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris linearifolia) that had nestled against it. Better late than never.

Update to yesterday’s post: I’ve added a closeup showing details in the damselfly’s abdomen and wings.

And here’s an unrelated thought for today: “The pessimist stands beneath the tree of prosperity and growls when the fruit falls on his head.” (This unattributed saying circulated in various American newspapers in the first decade of the 20th century.)

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 29, 2020 at 4:40 AM

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Orange is the color of Alibates

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A year ago today we spent some time at the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument in the Texas Panhandle. You could say orange is a predominant color of the place. Yucca glauca, known as soapweed yucca, plains yucca, and narrowleaf yucca, is the predominant yucca in the area.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 27, 2018 at 4:41 AM

Yuccas flowering up high

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To allow FM 1431 to cross the Colorado River just south of Kingsland in the Texas Hill Country, engineers had to cut the roadbed through the flank of a steep hill. The result was an even steeper cliff, and it was at the interface between that cliff and the untouched hillside above it that these yuccas were flowering on April 4th. Sources show three species of yucca in that county. I’m leaning toward Yucca torreyi; Yucca pallida and Yucca constricta are the other possibilities.

Note the pads of prickly pear cactus (Opuntia spp.) that are such a common sight in Texas. Here’s a closer look at both kinds of plants:

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 9, 2018 at 4:50 AM

Yucca flowering in the Texas Panhandle

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Probably the most numerous and certainly the most prominent flowers we saw in the Texas Panhandle on May 27th were those of Yucca glauca, known as soapweed yucca, plains yucca, and narrowleaf yucca. This species grows natively from Texas through Alberta, so it followed us on our trip through the Oklahoma Panhandle, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado again, New Mexico, and back into west Texas.

Today’s photograph is yet another one from the Alibates Flint Quarries. The orange earth in the background was within sight of the place shown in yesterday’s second picture.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 23, 2017 at 4:56 AM

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A botanical surprise

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joshua-tree-7150

I got close to a substantial Joshua tree a few miles north of Barstow, California, on October 25. Despite the common designation of “tree” based on the presence of bark and a sturdy trunk, the scientific name Yucca brevifolia tells us that the plant is actually a yucca. Surprise. A closer look at a cluster of Joshua tree leaves clearly shows their yucca-ness.

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Click to enlarge.

Yuccas in central Texas are a lot smaller than Joshua trees, but west Texas has some closer in stature to California’s giants.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 6, 2017 at 5:01 AM

May 8th

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Rain-Lily Flower 0523

After the appearance of this picture a week ago, Gallivanta suggested repeating it today, this time with the rain-lily (Cooperia pedunculata) symbolizing several things. For her it’s her father’s birthday (best wishes). May 8 is also World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. In 2016, May 8 happens to be Mother’s Day. In 1945, the Allies celebrated May 8 as VE Day, Victory in Europe over the forces of Nazi Germany. That same day and year also saw the birth of my childhood friend Michael Kindman, who unfortunately died young a couple of decades ago.

If you’ll indulge me for having decided “to paint the lily,” as Shakespeare put it*, here’s yet another photograph from a month ago today at the Doeskin Ranch. Adjacent to a yellowing twistleaf yucca (Yucca rupicola) leaf I found a Heller’s plantain (Plantago helleri). This little plant(ain) typically goes through the nodding phase you see here before straightening up and producing tiny flowers.

Heller's Plantain by Yellowing Yucca Leaf 0680

Oh well, now that I’ve mentioned its flowers, I guess I have to show you one. Here’s a view from my northwest Austin neighborhood on March 20:

Heller's Plantain Flower 8843

 


 

* Here’s the passage from Shakespeare’s King John:

Therefore, to be possess’d with double pomp,
To guard a title that was rich before,
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.

Somehow in public memory the two metaphors in the third line have merged, with the result that we now encounter the incorrect phrase “to gild the lily” more often than the correct one.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 8, 2016 at 5:09 AM

A live yucca

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Yucca Gone to Seed with Wispy Clouds 9872

After yesterday’s downward-looking view at the earthbound remains of a yucca that seemed to me to be a headless porcupine, I thought I should show you an upward-looking view of a tall yucca from November 22 in the western portion of Big Bend National Park. It may be a Faxon yucca, Yucca faxoniana, which one of my books says can grow to 9m (29 ft.).

If you haven’t gotten enough of the imagining game, you’re invited to check out the pair of wispily masked baby-blue eyes in the sky peering down over a likewise wispy nose.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 15, 2015 at 4:52 AM

Another thing that looked to me like a headless animal

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Yucca Stump Remains 0507

This time I saw a headless porcupine but it’s actually the dried-out remains of the lower part of a yucca plant—a common sight in the Chihuahuan Desert. The depression at the left is the place from which the plant’s tall stalk once emerged.

I took this picture on the west side of US 385 inside Big Bend National Park on November 23rd.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 14, 2015 at 5:20 AM

View from Skyline Drive

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Sotol with Seed Stalk 9185

Late in the afternoon on November 20th we turned off into Davis Mountains State Park and drove to the top of Skyline Drive. The prominently pointy and sawtooth-edged plants you see here, including the one whose seed stalk is so tall, are sotol. Two species of Dasylirion grow in this area, but I’m afraid I can’t tell you which one this is. Look beyond the sotol to the land stretched out below and you’ll get a good feel for the vastness and aridity of west Texas.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 1, 2015 at 4:46 AM

Twistleaf yucca flowers with clouds

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Twistleaf Yucca Flowers with Clouds 3938

In April you saw a landscape view of some yucca plants flowering above a roadside cliff, but I feel I owe you a closer look at blossoms in this genus. Here, then, is a twistleaf yucca, Yucca rupicola, that I photographed in Leander on June 1st. In a post from 2012 I offered up a visual confirmation of the name twistleaf, but today is the first time you’re getting a detailed look at the flowers of that species, which happens to be endemic to central Texas.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 2, 2015 at 3:33 AM

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