Woody Peony 50 mm handheld

Tree Peony

See my previous May Woody Peony postings for background on this peony variety.

These photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr and the Canon EF 50mm f/1,2L USM lens. I opted for handheld exposures; the morning was absolutely still.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Life from Death

while trillium

Taken with a Canon 100 mm “macro” lens, a Kodak digital single lens reflex body, a Manfrotto tripod and ample time and patience.

Enjoy!

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Trillium rise from the decaying tree roots.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Are White and Red Trillium a different species?

A question of speciation

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Questions about speciation of flora can be complex and are so in the case of trillium. A straightforward answer is “yes,” white and red trillium are different species with distinct characteristics, as can be seen from the first photograph.

The white trillium below are in the species Trillium grandiflorum as evidenced by coloration, the shapes of the flower petals and anthers. For this discussion I will focus on the flower petal shape and coloration. The grandiflorum petals are broad at the base and wavy, compared to the more blade-like red trillium, Trillium erectum, straight-edged petals.

There is the obvious difference of color, but Trillium erectum has a white form, not seen here.

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Then, there is this specimen, below, with a stippling of red on blade-like petals with wavy edges. Here is where the experts differ and, in summary, many believe trillium species are an interrelated complex with the possibility of hybridization, sharing of genetic material between the different species to produce fertile offspring. This specimen may be an example of this hybridization.

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Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Massed White Trillium Blooms

Wonder of the northern spring forest

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I came upon this display April 2004, a wonder of the northern spring forest.

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Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Life and Death

Rumination on wild flower blooms

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An access road, now blocked with huge boulders by the State Park, leads to this dam at the head of Fillmore Glen. I stop here for reflection at times and have climbed behind the dam for photographs. It is possible to drive up the south side of the glen on a poorly maintained road and park next to the boulders. In this season (spring) the surrounding forest is carpeted in wildflowers. Hepatica, trillium, dutchman’s breeches. One day, years ago, I pulled in behind a late model convertible with a license plate holder advising the owner was a member of the 10th Mountain division and a World War II veteran.

They were a well dressed and groomed couple. The white haired driver, in his late 80’s at least, patiently waited while she, a frail woman, walked the margins of the forest, enjoying the wildflowers. It was my impression this was a ritual for them, developed over the years. One of the few spring outings left to them.

Wildflower displays develop over hundreds of years. The massed trillium are on land not disturbed for thousands of years, since the last ice age. These same spring wonders were certainly enjoyed by the Iroquois before us.

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On the gorge slope below the parking area, in a hollow on the north side of a large (I recall) oak, one early sunny spring morning I discovered the last resting place of a deer. Only the bones and some fur remained, the visible portion resembles the Capitulum and trochlea of a human arm bone and, indeed, there was a scapula close by. The season is evoked by the unfurling fern against the based of the oak.

Dark, Unwritten Forest Secrets
Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

The Haw in Hawthorn

I originally published these blossoms as “wild  rose”.  It was my Facebook friends who pointed  out these are hawthorn flowers.  The key to identification was the shape of the leaves.

Hawthorne Blossoms on the former McArdle Home
Blossoms of Hawthorne taken on the site of the former McCardle Home, Proleek Townland, County Louth, Ireland.

In correcting my mistake, I learned the young leaves of Hawthorn are excellent for salads.  Wonder how the fairy folk, associated with single hawthorns (as in the following photograph from the Hill of Tara), react to picking leaves from their trees?  I didn’t hear of the practice during our time in Ireland.

Speaking Stone Hill of Tara
View northwest from Hill of Tara looking across County Meath with views of Counties Westmeath and Cavan. On the horizon, right, is Hag’s Mountain, (Irish: Sliabh na Caillí) , site of the Loughcrew Cairns. The standing stone is the “Stone of Destiny: (Irish: Lia Fáil), which served in coronation the coronation of the High Kings of Ireland. It stands on the Inauguration Mound (Irish: an Forrad) of Tara. This photograph was taken the morning of May 27, 2014 hours before the stone was vandalized, doused with green and red paint.

My mistake was understandable, in botany the hawthorn is in the same family as the rose.  The flowers are similar, having five petals.  The “haw” in hawthorn is from the Old English word for hedge, as is this linear standoff the tree lining the way up to the Loughcrew Cairns.

Path on Hag's Mountain, Loughcrew
Reaching highest point of County Meath, Ireland means a steep path, not too long, to glorious views on all points plus Lough Craobh (Lake of the Branches).

I read these votive offerings are made at Beltane, in which case these are fresh from placement May 1.

Hawthorn Tree with Offerings
A hawthorn tree in bloom on May 27, 2016. Growing on the slope of Hag’s Mountain

The following year Pam underwent double total knee replacements, never the less, she was great company for all our adventures on the island.  Even this steep climb.

Pam and the Offering Hawthorn
The steep path to Loughcrew passes a hawthorn covered with flowers and May offerings.

These views were our reward for reaching the top.

Loughcrew View, North by Northwest
View from Loughcrew Cairns, “Hags Mountain”

The Emerald Isle, we fully understood this name.

Standing Stone, Loughcrew
Loughcrew Megalithic Site, County Meath, Ireland. A solitary standing stone below the trail to the Loughcrew site surrounded by whin bush (gorse) and hawthorn hedge rows. A fieldstone fence, farmhouses, a patchwork quilt of fields completes the view.

The Greek name for the Hawthorn species is formed from two words meaning “strength” and “sharp”, referring to the thorny branches.

Charlemagne of County Cork
For County Cork we stayed with Marantha House B&B.   Our day of arrival, that evening, I visited Charlemagne and fed him an apple, saved from dinner. We learned from our hosts, Olwen and Douglas Venn, he is a retired show horse they rescued. The following morning I visited Charlemagne again with an apple and my camera. As I walked up, starting from the far end of his field, Charlemagne rewarded me with a series of astounding poses, trotting toward me in fine form. The morning mists, hawthorn in bloom, distant hills came together for this memory.

We marveled at the hawthorn hedges in field after field.  I first notice them from the World Heritage Site, Newgrange (Brú na Bóinne, “Palace of the Boyne”).  Here is one on the Dingle Peninsula, on the other side of the island.

Field of Yellow Iris Flowers, Dingle Peninsula
A roadside field of yellow Iris flowers with flowering Hawthorn and Whin Bush in the windbreaks. Looking northwest toward Killeenagh and Caherpierce on the R561 between Lack West and Inch. Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland.

Another Ireland post of interest, “Proleek, Grandfather McCardle’s home.”

Yellow Hibiscus IV

anthers and stamens

Evening breezes brought to a halt my series of hibiscus bloom photographs, that bloom faded and shriveled, to be replaced by another. I captured the images of this post on a very quiet summer evening. This bloom was facing up closer to vertical that the previous.

A key identification for all 300 species of hibiscus is the long stamen tube. I have yet to see a local insect interacting with the stamen, always they are in the flower throat. In the tropics, pollination is thought to proceed from large butterflies and birds.

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Here are three macro photographs of this bloom, all from the Canon 100 “macro” lens. I learned by experience to tamp down the diaphragm to the smallest setting, f / 32 for this lens. The different aspects were achieved by moving the lens objective closer to the bloom. This is a “fixed” lens, it has one focal length.

References

Wikipedia – “hibiscus.”

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Yellow Hibiscus III

anthers and stamens

Nyctinasty (flower response to light: opening with or closing without light) in hibiscus plants is a mechanism to protect against adverse conditions such as cool temperatures that can be damaging. Through a lack of light stimulus and circadian rhythms the plant is able to trigger the molecular movement of ions to allow for the closing of the flower.

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Here are three macro photographs of this bloom, all from the Canon 100 “macro” lens. I start with the shutter diaphragm open at 4.0 (“F-stop”), a little narrower at 4.5 and a bit more at 9.0. For this lens the maximum opening is at 2.8, the narrowest is 32. As the opening narrows (F-stop increases) the exposure time needed to capture enough light lengthens and the range of the image in focus increases.

References

Wikipedia – “hibiscus.”

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Yellow Hibiscus II

flower and buds

This is a perennial, commonly known simply as “hibiscus”, or less widely known as rose mallow. Other names include hardy hibiscus, rose of sharon, and tropical hibiscus.

The hibiscus flower is traditionally worn by Tahitian and Hawaiian girls. If the flower is worn behind the left ear, the woman is married or has a boyfriend. If the flower is worn on the right, she is single or openly available for a relationship.

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Here are the three photographs of this bloom, all from the Canon 100 “macro” lens. Two with “sweat bees” and one without.
References

Wikipedia – “hibiscus.”

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Yellow Hibiscus I

flower, buds, bee

Yellow hibiscus, the state flower of Hawaii was recorded in ancient Greece. In the photograph is captured several unopened buds, behind the flower, and a bee in the flower throat, attracted by nectar there. It is a small bee, of the Halictidae family, that lives alone in a ground nest and also called a “sweat bee,” from being attracted to perspiration.

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References

Wikipedia – “sweat bee” and “hibiscus.”