Flowers in Winter with Panasonic-Leica 100-400mm

Started Jan 16, 2018 | Discussions thread
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richj20 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,622
Flowers in Winter with Panasonic-Leica 100-400mm

Many people in the USA anxiously await Spring for the emergence of showy flowers. However, Winter offers a nice display, often as "showy" as their Spring cousins.

In Southern California, in addition to our own nataive flowers, we see an abundance of non-native species (= brought into the area from another location) which have happily taken up residence.

I took the opportunity to visit a few neighbors' gardens, and the local University Botanic Garden. Here are a few, some of which you may not have seen before.

1. Shrub Coral Tree, Erythrina x bidwillii. I felt fortunate to see this flower in full maturity - none of the florets have begun to wilt - and nice light which penetrates inside the flower cluster. The botanical names often are good descriptions of the flower. Erythrina is Greek for red, and bidwillii refers to John Bidwill for whom this hybrid (indicated by the "x") was named. Native to Australia. Several different hybrids (cross breeds) are popular in the USA.

2. California Fuschia; hummingbird flower, Epilobium canum. Noted for the long stamens. I knelt on the ground to be able to frame straight into the flower. The fully articulated LCD is quite useful in these situations. Native to California.

3. Evening Primrose, Oenothera elata. Had I known this was growing near the entrance to the University Botanic Garden, I would have arrived earlier. Flowers open in late afternoon-early evening, and by mid morning, they are already getting ready to close. These Primroses are recognized by the protruding 4-branched green stigma. Native to California

4. Red Powder Puff, Calliandra haematocephala. A large tree native to Borneo. Calliandra refers to the many beautiful stamens, and haematlcephala to the red heads, which up close look like a tangled mess! The bee appears to be the Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera.

5. Climbing Milkweed; fringe bindweed, Funastrum cyanchoides. This vine attaches itself to plants with its tendrils clasping to stems. Up close the scene looks like a playground Jungle Jim (climbing bars). Being in the Milkweed family, it attracts the Monarch Butterfly, but I've not seen any at this location on a slope near a local city park. I used my Nikon 6T Achromat, not to magnify, but to get closer. The 100-400mm has a MWD of about 4 feet, and the Achromatic reduces the MWD to about 10 inches, permitting tighter framing of small objects. Native to California

6. Common Lantana, Lantana camara. This flower does attract the Monarch, Danaus plexippus, making it popular for home gardens

7. Western Aloe; Texas Red Yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora. I saw this plant blooming in a neighbor's yard. The light was beautiful. This time of year with the sun in its low path, it doesn't get really high in sky, so around midday it's still at a nice angle, in this case, like a lamp beaming into the flowers. Native to southwest Texas.

8. Hybrid Aloes at the Botanic Garden. Many species and hybrids of Aloes are popular here because they bloom during the winter season. Native to tropical Southern Africa and nearby locations.

9. Poinsettia; Christmas Flower, Euphorbia pulcherrima. More commonly seen in small flower pots, but when permitted to grow,, can reach heights of 10 feet or more. What look like red petals are bracts, modified leaves. The tiny flowers are clustered below the small yellow structures deep inside the flower. Euphorbias have milky sap which can be toxic. However, this plant's toxicity does not hurt dogs and cats. Native to Mexico. The common name "Poinsettia" recognizes J.R. Poinsette, ambassador to Mexico who introduced this plant to the US in 1825.

10. "Mother of thousands," Kalanchoe. Two species here: the flowers are from my garden, and the plantlets from a neighbor's garden. These tiny plantlets form on the margins of the leaves, held on by a tiny appendage which becomes the root when the plantlets drop off the leaf, whereupon they will grow into new plants. I photographed the tiny root with my Nikon 6T mounted. The 6T is a 2.9 diopter lens which provides 2.3:1 magnification at 800mm focused at MWD. I was a few inches farther back, so I estimate 1.8:1.

I'm using these photographs and descriptions for my own plant lists.

The 100-400mm is a fun lens to use for flowers around town and in botanic gardens.  However, for me it's not practical in the wild, for instance in the Southern Sierra Nevada where I photograph often, trekking in the forests, or along rivers and creeks. It's just too bulky, and unwieldy in tight places, so I prefer a dedicated macro lens for those situations.

- Richard

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Panasonic Leica 100-400mm F4.0-6.3 ASPH Panasonic FZ1000 Sony a7R II
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