Here’s another first for these pages: dodder, a parasitic plant in the genus Cuscuta (there are various species that are hard to tell apart). Dodder has almost no chlorophyll, so to survive it sends out many yellow or yellow-orange or orange tendrils whose tips force their way into the stems of other plants and extract nutrients. Not surprisingly, the plants preyed upon aren’t happy about that and sometimes show their displeasure by dying.
To give you a sense of scale, I’ll tell you that each tiny popcorn-like flower you see in the photograph was only about 4mm (a sixth of an inch) across, from which you can infer how slender the dodder’s orange threads were. I’ll add that the plant being attacked here was greenthread, Thelesperma filifolium.
Like the last view, this one comes from a piece of the Blackland Prairie on Wells Branch Parkway at 10th St. in Pflugerville on May 13th.
© 2013 Steven Schwartzman