Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Illinois Leftovers!

I just realized there were plenty of images from our recent Midwest trip that hadn't made it into the blog and really needed to...  It is always amazing to me to see the change in vegetation from one trip to another a month or two later.  Certainly through the end of July when we were there, about the most common prairie flower was Queen Anne's Lace. It is a striking plant, and reading about it, is quite amazing.  I didn't know, for instance, that the common carrot we eat was cultivated from the plant, and is often referred to as a wild carrot.  Also now known is that it is not native to the Americas, but was introduced from Europe and is considered an invasive species!  The exposure at left is of a large flower not far from our house near the Fox River, over 15cm (6") diameter.  Shown in cross section, the diagonal struts support the umbel (think umbrella!) floret arrays.  Interestingly, the red center flower is seen below the umbel surface and is seen in the profile.  This exposure is a 3-frame focus stack, combined in Photoshop.

The name "Queen Anne's Lace" is from both its lacy appearance, and from the normally present single red bloom in the center said to represent a droplet of blood from a needle prick in making the lace.  The namesake Anne is said to be the queen of England or her great grandmother Anne of Denmark. 

With the exception of the singular central red blossom the open flowers around our place are pure white when open.  But as shown at right, the opening flower shows a rim of pink before fully open.  Both right and left images are single exposures taken on a windy day...

While walking through some of the rehabbed prairie areas, the variety of flowers was pretty stunning, and some forms that were unfamiliar to me.  Unfortunately, my book of native plants and flowers are 1900 miles away, and Google wasn't of much help, so I can't name this one.  Other than sharing their lavender color, you are on your own.  The left image was taken along the Fox River, and is a 5-frame focus stack. 

At right is what I believe is Monarda fistulosa, from the mint family.  Every trip back, it is like my eyes are opened to new species, and I do not remember seeing these firework-like flowers before.  But they are quite striking and the cause of some of the lavender-colored blobs in the background of the image in the preceding paragraph.

In closing, there were some quite nice thistle blooms along our property line with our neighbors to the south.  All flowering plants were popular with the pollinators, and this bumblebee was having a field day.  Of all the frames I took (many, since he seemed content to feed while I shot) this is my favorite with both the blossom and bee in profile.  Too active for multiple frames to focus-stack, this one caught much of the flower and bee in focus, including his grappling hooks on its legs...  Use of the on-camera flash was essential!

I think I've just about exhausted the images from our July trip.  We're already thinking of a return for September.  I suspect the Queen Anne's Lace will be long-gone, but the goldenrod should be in season, and who knows what else.  Whatever it is, I'm looking forward to it!

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