Wildflowers and the Balcones Canyonlands

We’ve had a fairly wet spring here in central Texas, which is great for the wildflowers.  The weather yesterday was ideal for wildflower photography—mostly cloudy and temperatures in the low 80’s.

I left the house with my Fujifilm X-T2 and a few lenses.  The images shown here were taken with my XF16-55mm f/2.8 and XF50-140mm f/2.8 lenses.  I used the builtin Fujifilm  Velvia profile.

I drove north of Austin, finding many wildflowers along the way.  These photos were taken along Ranch to Market Road 1431, between Lago Vista and Marble Falls.

_DSF8245Bluebonnets and Fleabane
(Click any image to enlarge.)

The high season for bluebonnets (the state flower of Texas) was about a month ago.  In many locations, the blue flowers have given way to the yellows and reds and oranges of other wildflowers.

_DSF8231Indian Blanket, with a few Bluebonnets and Coreopsis mixed in

As I prepared this post and looked up the names of the wildflowers in the various photos, I realized how close I came to suffering a painful fate. The plants with the white flowers in the photo below are called “Mala Mujer” (Spanish for “Bad Woman”).  Years ago, when I was visiting the cloud forest in the Sierra Madre Oriental in Tamaulipas, Mexico, the locals warned me of two very bad things.  One was a very deadly snake (dangerous, in part, because I was so far away from medical help).  The greater fear was reserved for Mala Mujer.  They showed it to us, and told us to stay far away from it.

Here’s a frightening description:

“…the evil in the heart of the mala mujer is the incredibly caustic poison that lives in the trichome and is deployed when it pierces the skin, like a tiny hypodermic needle. [The] poison makes the experience so excruciating that one researcher likened the trichomes to ‘nuclear glass daggers’. And the poison doesn’t just cause instant pain – it can linger for days, even weeks, along with a red and purple rash that continues to discolor skin for months even after it’s been treated.” — plantsofillrepute.tumblr.com

_DSF8286Indian Blanket with Mala Mujer (Texas Bullnettle)

Having survived this experience, I also visited, for the first time, the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge.  After going to the Visitors Center, I drove up Ranch to Market Road  1174 to the Doeskin Ranch Trailhead.

From there, I took the ~2-mile Rimrock Trail.  It’s rated “difficult”, which I think is overstating the challenge, with only two or three hundred feet of elevation gain.  Here’s the GPS route.  I did it counterclockwise.

topomap

The beauty of rugged Texas Hill Country ranchland is an acquired taste for some.  I am certainly grateful that this refuge for endangered birds is preserved.  I was amazed by how clear the waters of Mountain Creek are.

_DSF8339

The trails were well-marked.  A few parts are overgrown with Spanish Oak, but that’s not surprising given our wet spring.

_DSF8292

More photos from the wildlife refuge…

_DSF8306Plateau Goldeneye with Blackfoot Daisy and Prickly Pear

_DSF8223Plateau Goldeneye

_DSF8312Prairie verbena

_DSF8323Lichen

_DSF8324Wright’s Skullcap

_DSF8330Indian Paintbrush

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