The familial puffball
Symphyotrichum subulatum, known colloquially as eastern annual saltmarsh aster or hierba del marrano, belongs to the sunflower family. Like many another member of that family, it produces seed heads in the form of puffballs like this one. You can also see here that even as the puffball is beginning to come apart, a bud has branched off the same stalk and is trying to open into a flower head; I’m not sure it’s going to make it.
I took this picture, like the previous one showing a flower head of this species in its prime, on November 15th at the Spring Lake Natural Area in San Marcos, a town about 40 miles south of where I live in Austin.
For more information about Symphyotrichum subulatum, including a state-clickable map showing the many places in eastern North America where this species grows, you can visit the USDA website.
Note: Comments on my post the other day about a bird with a frog in its mouth have led me to add a footnote that includes a link to pictures of a pied-billed grebe swallowing what seems an impossibly large frog.
© 2012 Steven Schwartzman