by Carl Strang
Today’s winter botany focus is on two quite different plants. First up is the familiar black-eyed Susan.
Those heads are what remain of the flowers, whose yellow rays are perhaps their most memorable feature.
Up close, the winter heads have a complex and beautiful structure.
The other plant is one I have not yet photographed in the growing season. Imagine a slender orange leafless twining vine. That’s what the dodders are. They are flowering plants, but they are parasites. There are several species that specialize to some degree according to habitat and/or the host plant species whose roots they invade for nutrients. They don’t photosynthesize, and so need neither leaves nor chlorophyll. I found one to photograph on the fence bounding the off-leash dog area at Mayslake Forest Preserve.
Common dodder has a long list of potential hosts. Usually it occurs in wet soil, and the photographed location frequently is ponded.