Tag Archives: Photograph

Shame and Kisses: More Flowers of Flying Hat (12-13)

Catclaw or Shame Vine

12. Catclaw, Shame Vine

This blossom and plant attests a rapid response to the human touch. It is variously known as: Shame Vine, Sensitive-Briar, Catclaw, Shame-Boy  (Mimosa microphylla). It has appeared every Spring since I have lived here, but I never photographed it before today. When I looked up the name of the plant, I also read that the tiny opposite leaflets close upward quickly when touched or walked upon. One authority says that the mechanism of withdrawal is not known in all respects.  Fascinated, I went down after lunch and shot this video of the Catclaw or Shame Vine.  Sure enough, when touched, it drew its claws in or folded its leaflets in ‘shame.’  Look at this video for it’s fascinating.

 

The Wild Honeysuckle or Kisses

13. Wild Honeysuckle, Bee Blossom or Kisses (Gaura suffulta), April 2012.

I spent two hours in the fields and grove this morning, photographing blossoms, mustang grapevines, yucca and the family of Gyp of Indian Blanket. Suddenly, there erupts in the pastures the Wild Honeysuckle pictured above. One day it is not there, the next day the flower is spread over five acres of pasture.  I never knew Honeysuckle grew on the ranchito.

The area has had two good rains in the last month that accounts for the lushness of the fields.

Of course, in identifying the blossoms above I found no quick method to do so.  I kept going among three wildflower books and the pictures in the books are not always precisely reflective of my photographs.  I find the Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center possesses a number of photos and variations that I can deduce better than one picture in one book.  But it did not help me this time.  I nearly gave up and was about to publish the blossom anyway, when I went into the Roadside Flowers of Texas by Mary Metz Wills and Howard S. Irwin.  Wills painted the wildflowers and did not photograph!  Nonetheless, I found a sketch of Wills that coalesced the attributes of the Wild Honeysuckle for me to identify.    Wills and Irwin’s book was published in 1961 by the University of Texas Press.

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What is this with the local naming of plants?  Shame Boy, Shame Vine, Kisses, Catclaw?  Before we had scientific names, the visual and behavioral characteristics set plants and blossoms apart for identification.  ‘Tis useful, quaint, enduring in memory.  Only this Spring have I finally seen the ‘stork’s bill’ in the Stork’s Bill plant.  It is not in the blossom, but is the shape of the seed pods in the plant’s emergent foliage.  I think both names are necessary, the scientific for classification and study, and the local idiomatic names that reflect culture.  I enjoy learning names of nature’s plants and creatures for it is like meeting strangers — long and lasting friendships may endure, strangers no more.

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I know you may think I am tedious about the Gyp Indian Blanket, but here is another picture of the family.  I can see the family outside my kitchen window and often monarchs perch and feed upon the family.  I have photos of monarchs perched upon the blossoms and will post them in the future.

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Filed under Flowers of Flying Hat, Wild Flowers of Texas

Flowers of Flying Hat (1-4): Late Winter blossoms

Human beings set goals, or at least I think they should.  On the other hand, doing what comes naturally has its attraction too.  I have set several objectives regarding nature observations on my 53 acres.  Here on the place — called variously, the ranchito, Flying Hat Ranch — I have sought to identify every tree on the place and have started a good list of American elm, cottonwood, mesquite, juniper, oak, and so on.  Identifying every tree continues to be a goal.  Tree identification was (still is) my first goal in field work on Flying Hat.  Other goals I have set up include:

observing another fox and taking its photograph,

identifying every bird I see,

identifying every bird I hear,

for one year, photographing every wild flower I observe on Flying Hat.

Achieving these goals, and the process of doing so, is personally satisfying and gives me narratives for this blog.  I have decided to start another goal-oriented project and demonstrate it on my blog.  I have begun taking pictures of the wild flowers on Flying Hat and my goal is to continue photographing and identifying flowers (all colorful blossoms) through a turn of seasons for one year – March 2012 – February 2013.  So, let’s see how far I can go with this project.  Here are my first photographs.  The No. 3 flower is disputable as a “Texas Star.”

(If I have made an error in typing, please comment or e-mail me your reasons for seeing the flower and plant differently.  I want to be right in my typing, but more than that I want the typing to be correct.  Note: All photographs are taken on the 53 acres of my ranchito; none are photographed off the place or off the ranchito grid.  For a precise location of Flying Hat, see location information in this blog footer.)

1. Verbena (Verbena bipinnatifida?). February 26, 2012, west slope of terrace, Fenster's field. See Wills and Irwin, p. 189.

2. Parralena (Dyssodia pentachaeta), of the Aster family. February 26, 2012, on back terrace and in Fenster's field east of the house. See Ajilvsgi, p. 148.

3. Bluebell bellflower (Campanula rotudifolia), February 26, 2012. See http://www.wildflower.org/gallery/result.php?id_image=3102; see notes below.

4. Violet ruellia, violet wild petunia (Ruellia nudiflora). February 26, 2012, Fenster's field, far field. See http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=RUNU; Ajilvsgi, p. 377.

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Notes, corrections and additions:

No. 3 flower and plant is probably as described in caption.  Thanks to Montucky of Montana Outdoors blog and Grethe of Thyra blog.  The issue seems to be resolved it you stand up the flower and look at the total plant.  The flower would droop like a bell and the leaves and stem favor the image in the citation in the caption: http://www.wildflower.org/gallery/result.php?id_image=3102.

Mary Wills and Howard Irwin, Roadside Flowers of Texas.

G. Ajilvsgi, Wildflowers of Texas.

Campbell and Lynn Loughmiller, Texas Wildflowers.

Steven Foster and Christopher Hobbs, Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs (A Peterson Field Guide).

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October in Texas: dusting and sunflowers

Sunflowers with dust storm near Abilene, Texas (October 17, 2011).

A light “dusting” of dust, not snow, descended with high winds upon Texas yesterday. A cold front came in the afternoon that sent temperatures this morning down into the lower 50s F. I love changes in weather. Of course, not with abrupt turns that bring destruction and fire, but changes like yesterday: brisk winds, racing clouds, lightening, rain in the distance that you can smell (my dog, Yeller, lifts his head high to catch the scents far away), dark clouds with long trailing edges that signal rain prospects and all of it bringing anticipation to the heart that tomorrow will be different, a new day with fresh starts all over the world.

How can one capture that cachet of weather change and anticipation for riding your favorite horse into the future? ( I am down to one horse, my Star paint gelding, so he is the favorite, the last of the remuda — but I will build a remuda back with brown mares that foal in the Spring.)  Well, you can’t capture it, but you can take a photograph that elicits Texas weather change, and the above photograph of Texas plains, dust and sunflowers, brings yesterday’s moment to pause.

You must ENLARGE the photo above to get the full effect of yesterday’s “dusting” around Abilene, Texas.  The evocations the photograph brings reminds me of migrating pioneers in the nineteenth century that saw the Trans-Mississippi West plains and stopped, not wanting to venture farther onto land that had little water, few trees and a population that spoke strange languages.

O, Pioneers!  Be not afraid!  There are springs and rivers, trees are in the ravines and highlands!  The Indians will trade and parley and teach their tongues, if you will tread lightly upon the terrain!

Yes, I know that pioneers did not tread lightly.  There were, however, places of concord — Bent’s Fort, the Pawnee, the Tewa, among other spaces and culture.

Despite this riff-tangent about the American pioneer, I come back to the weather change of yesterday that brought cold winds, turning the sunflowers to face the southern climes.  Bees and butterflies still feasted on its pollen, riding the petals like cowboys on broncs; the contrast of red earth, dusty skies and yellow flowers showed a tough plant on inhospitable soil, holding on tight and bearing its colors to the world.  I love these types of weather changes.

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Little bluestem with iPhone

On February 26, Saturday last, when in the field, I applied the iPhone to take photographs and upload for a field test: short bursts of field notes and photographs as I surveyed 53 acres of Cross Timbers prairie, creek and woodland. I attempted to snap a photograph and upload it with commentary as I went about my survey. While in the field, miles from cell towers, I was unable to coordinate photos and commentary. In addition, the “thumbing” of data on the iPhone was too slow. I was absorbing data much, much faster than I could thumb the phone. I did send a few in-the-field updates onto my blog, but later trashed them. I composed a long post with photographs taken with the Nikon when I got back to the ranch office.  In the field I did not think the photographs had been uploaded.

Today, however, as I was going through the media library on Sage to Meadow blog, I discovered that the photographs with the iPhone had been uploaded! I uploaded one photograph twice, thinking it had not been uploaded the first time. And, here it is, Little bluestem grass that is coming back on the prairie.

Little bluestem grass, Pecan Tree Pasture, Flying Hat Ranch, Texas, February 2011.

I think the utility of the iPhone in field work is evolving.  It is portable and lighter than a camera.  Composing commentary can exceed 140 characters.  It’s not going to replace the steno pad and camera, but it may have some further use.  I like the idea of field work live, or with a minimum of time lapse, as a light and useful activity.

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