Mystery of the Fuzzy Mat Plant

Sometimes you see something so often that you forget it is interesting. That’s the case for a weird plant I’ve been seeing on our driveway ever since we built it. It always looked like bits of cotton had gotten into one of the usual spurges that line our driveway.

Here’s the plant from a distance. You can barely distinguish it from the road base.

I finally got it into my head to take a photo of it an upload it to iNaturalist, so I could figure out what it was. I took the photo on our cutting board, hoping for better contrast.

Well, that didn’t go well at all. The plant simply does NOT photograph well, and the recognition algorithms couldn’t figure out what the thing was at all. It was guessing owls and such. I tried for a better photo, but didn’t get much further.

No one could tell what this was at our monthly meeting.

So, my friend Linda Jo of the Master Naturalist group got on the ball trying to figure it out, and asked a couple of experts. Not much luck.

I found a big hunk of the stuff and took it to a meeting last Friday, and none of the experts there had any idea, either. Linda Jo took a different photo and uploaded it, and had more success.

We were confused at first.

Later, the expert chimed in and we all agreed it’s a woolly cotton flower. (Whatever that is.) When we finally came to that conclusion we were all quite exhausted.

More evidence of confusion.

It turns out the plant is pretty uncommon. I wonder if it came in on the road base when they made our driveway, since that’s the only place I’ve ever seen it.

Here’s what made Linda Jo happy, though, a milkweed she found at our office building.

Thank goodness for the combined wisdom and knowledge of the Master Naturalist and iNaturalist community for figuring it out!

I’ll just close with a photo from yesterday, which was not one of my best days. But this view of the courthouse in Cameron had to cheer both me and Lee up!

This looks like one of those old-fashioned postcards!

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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