The Winter Landscape
As winter approaches, the mosaic of leaves, voluminous shapes of trees and other familiar visual textures in the landscape disappear. In their wake, a host of remarkable sights comes to the fore. Seed pods and dried flower heads are veritable works of art, so intricate and ingenious in construction. Above, the cage-like cup formation of the dried umbel of Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota)—also known as wild carrot or bird's nest—lives up to all of its names.
The seed pod of the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) splits open as it dries, releasing seeds on gossamer wings that are carried by the wind, crucial to the reproduction of this important pollinator plant.
After seeing these dark spindly seed pods in the large meadow at Lake Superior in Bethel, NY, I was thrilled to discover that they are from the dogbane plant (Apocynum cannabinum), also known as Indian hemp because of its fibrous texture similar to that of cannabis (and not for any psychoactive properties). It was growing near the milkweed, with which it shares a variety of characteristics (similar shoots, both exude a milky white latex) and you can see that its seeds also bear some resemblance.
Keep an eye out for other interesting forms and hone your detective skills!