CHAOS: Complex Habitats Around Our Suburbs

There I was, after moping all Monday and trying to catch up on Tuesday,I found myself looking at Wednesday. Somewhere in there, I had planned to get a few posts up. I may suggest to everyone else that life thrives on the edge of chaos (and we ought to ride the waves) but I often forget to remind myself. Things come up, things get procrastinated, and stress begins to surface. But why stress? That is life... just enough chaos to keep us on our toes. We could cite that old adage, better late than never, but the bit from my banner works for me. So, say it with me... "Ride the Waves"

And here's a bit of complexity from the 'burbs, a bit of chaotic strangeness for your week:


An odd fruit on a Narrowleaf Cottonwood tree (Populus angustifolia--possibly a hybrid) nestled among blooming catkins.

I've never quite seen a fruit like this on a cottonwood tree, and it makes me wonder if I have the identification wrong, or if I just found a very large male flower. These trees are known for sprouting along streams. It is easy to see why. A few of these puffs of cotton landed on one of the wet flagstones lining my pond, and began sprouting a few days later. The tree in the photo above isn't currently growing along any creek or pond, however. Intsead, it sits in between a suburban neighborhood and city park. With its close proximity to fences, one might think it was planted as a noisebreak between the two areas. This tree outdates the neighborhood, however. It used to be along a stream, which was diverted to a storm canal a few hundred yards away during construction of the neighborhood.

Image by the author.

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It might be a young gall produced by a wasp or twiggall fly, or an expression from previous damage of spider mites or some other tiny plant-sucking insects. Just a guess.

Chris, you are very likely correct; many of the trees around here are some hybrid between the two species. Thank you!

Ken, I must admit, I hadn't heard of twiggall flies before... they're quite fascinating! However, this growth didn't look like a gall, so much as an abnormal flower. There were little flies around that looked similar, at least, so I wouldn't be surprised if they're on the tree, or even enlarged the flower.

My biggest frustration with this is that I haven't been able to find it again, or anything that looks remotely like it in the grove.