Missouri Orchids – Grass Pink

Grass Pink Orchid (Calopogon tuberosus) f/18, 1/60 sec, ISO-640, 3 focus-stacked exposures

Tingler Prairie Conservation Area

Claytonia virginica – Spring Beauty

These images were taken during a trip with Ted MacRae and Chris Brown this past April at Tingler Prairie Conservation Area in Howell County, MO. The first shows an exceptionally colored spring beauty (Claytonia virginica) in peak bloom.

Elaphidionoides villosus (oak twig pruner)

This beetle larvae was something I had read about for years. Ted found several oak twigs that the mother beetles prune to serve as safe nurseries for their developing offspring as they rest on the forest floor. Ted delicately opened up the gallery to expose its occupant so we could take some photos.

Metallic Dung Beetle (Canthon viridis)
Buprestidae – Acmaeodera sp.

These Buprestid beetles were gorgeous as they foraged in the wood sorrel. Once in a while, they would stand still long enough to let us photograph them.

Arphia sulphurea ??
Black Rat Snake (Pantherophis obsoletus)

Finally, we found this black rat snake as it attempted to climb a tree near the trail. Maybe caught a whiff of something higher up?



Passiflora incarnata (passionflower, maypops) Image composed of a focus stack of 27 exposures.

Recently, I’ve taken the plunge and given some serious efforts into focus stacking in macro photography. This method allows the photographer to increase the depth of field in a scene by combining multiple exposures, each focused on a separate plane of focus. Afterwards, the different exposures are combined using powerful processing software on the computer. This particular image was built from 27 photos all taken at an aperture of f/8.

I will definitely miss our yard full of native plants when we make our change in residence, including the passionflowers. Maybe I’ll get to harvest this year’s crop of fruit one more time to make my own juice.

Although I don’t share in these beliefs, I really can appreciate the connections and story that the Christian thinkers put upon the Passiflora when they were introduced to these new world plants. Here is the story they used to connect this interesting group to Christian symbolism.


In Search of Tinytim

The WGNSS Nature Photography Group headed west early on a lovely day in early April with hopes of finding one of Missouri’s rarest plants – Geocarpon minimum, commonly referred to as tinytim, or earth-fruit. Geocarpon minimum (C=10) is a plant in a monotypic genus known for its diminutive size and rare status. It is listed as federally threatened and as endangered by the state of Missouri. The primary reason for its relative scarcity is its habitat needs; G. minimum requires sandstone glade habitats in Missouri as well as saline “slick spots” where it typically occurs in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. A fine balance must be the goal for managers of these areas. Competition and shading by native or exotic competitors is the primary limiting factor of this species and therefore, continuous disturbance is necessary for its continued success.

Geocarpon minimum “tinytim”

This plant’s life cycle is short, lasting only 3-6 weeks. Our objective was finding these plants in flower, but there were no guarantees we would find them flowering, or find them at all. Our first and primary hope for finding these plants was at Bona (pronounced Bonnie) Glade Natural Area. Here, our botany leaders, Casey Galvin, John Oliver, and Steve Turner showed us the microhabitat in which to find the plants and were able to point at the first few plants we found. With search images in mind, the group spread out and found the plants throughout the area. Better yet, we found the population in the early stages of flowering! As you can see in the accompanying photos, these are perfect subjects for the macro/micro lens.

In case you wondered how this species earned its name

After grabbing a late lunch together, a few of us decided to return to Bona Glade. Ted MacRae and I were unsatisfied with earlier images we had taken with our Laowa 15 mm macro lens and we were eager to improve the photos using this specialty lens that, when used successfully, can showcase the plant within its specific habitat.

Geocarpon minimum growing from rock/sand substrate

We photographed the plant on the couple of substrates that we found it on and in the various stages of its development.

Geocarpon minimum growing from moss substrate
Ozark Bill getting low to meet Geocarpon at “eye level”. Photo by Ted MacRae

Finding and photographing this plant was a long-held goal of mine. It was a very special day spent with friends and newfound acquaintances. I am thankful for those who helped us find this plant and spent time with us. Hopefully future WGNSS members will continue to find tinytim in its Missouri homes for decades to come.

Tinytim hunters. From back row starting on left: John Oliver, David Seidensticker, Deb Tyler, Adam Rembert, James Faupel, Steve Turner, Front row starting on left: Bill Duncan, Evelyn Luecke, Casey Galvin, Anh do Galvin, Ted MacRae.