Poverty weed fluff
And here’s a still later stage in the life of poverty weed, Baccharis neglecta, when the tufts of the previous picture have given way to seed-bearing fluff that gets dispersed by the wind. Notice the little “stars” that identify this species as a member of the sunflower family, even if poverty weed’s flowers look nothing like common sunflowers or any of the many other yellow daisies in the family.
Note also that this is an example of what biologists have called convergent evolution, in which two unrelated* plants or animals develop a similar feature. Without having to go outside central Texas, I can point to Clematis drummondii and Asclepias asperula as examples from the buttercup family and the milkweed family, respectively, that likewise produce seed-bearing fluff.
It was on October 27th that I converged with the Bull Creek Preserve in northwest Austin to produce this picture.
* except insofar as all living things on earth are believed to have evolved from a common source
© 2012 Steven Schwartzman