The D.D. in the title stands for dense dodder, but you don’t have to be dense to wonder what sort of strange thing dodder is: it’s the common name for any of various species that make up the genus Cuscuta in the morning-glory family. Like better-known morning-glories, dodder is a vine, but unlike its family-mates dodder is parasitic, and that difference until recently had botanists putting dodder into a family of its own, Cuscutaceae. Dodder’s parasitic nature explains why the only greenery you see close to the ground in these tangled mounds of yellow-orange capellini (angel-hair pasta) belongs to the plants being parasitized, in this case annual sumpweed, Iva annua.
I found and photographed these plants two days ago at Meadow Lake Park on the Blackland Prairie in eastern Round Rock, where from inside my car I spotted the conspicuous dodder tangles hundreds of feet away and waded through a sea of sumpweed to take this and various other pictures.
© 2015 Steven Schwartzman