A sliver of warmth

This “pod”  (I’m sorry to be so ill-informed about the subjects of my photographs!) has caught my eye on more than one occasion, and I’ve taken several photographs of it on different days throughout the fall and winter.  It has, of course, changed over the course of the last months, and I’ve been fascinated by its evolution.  In its current “empty” state (it was loaded with a milk-white fluff several weeks ago), there remains a sort of hammock intact, with the most delicate, florid folds. The dessicated exterior conceals a slender sliver of warmth on a cold winter’s day.

12 responses

  1. Mom

    Melanie, this is one of my favorites. This looks like milkweed. The birds love the fluffy stuff on the inside for building their nests. Love, Maman

    January 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    • Maman, I’m glad you like it! I think you’re right that this is milkweed. I suspected that it might be, but didn’t have the chance to look it up until now, and the images I found match what I’ve observed over the last few months. I can imagine that the white fluff on the inside would make quite a cozy cushion for birds!

      January 25, 2012 at 1:46 am

  2. Frank Wallace

    I believe this is an insect gall. It’s formed when an insect feeds on a leaf or bud, laying an egg, then releasing a growth hormone which causes the plant to grow the gall which protects the larva from predators. It’s a pretty cool life cycle.

    January 24, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    • Thanks for your comment, Frank. It’s hard to tell from my picture what size the “pod” actually is, but it’s fairly large (6 to 7 inches long). My use of the word “pod” may have been misleading, too. I think we’ve figured out that it’s milkweed. Insect galls are probably a lot smaller. I’ll keep my eye out for them though: that’s something I’d love to photograph!

      January 25, 2012 at 1:50 am

  3. Julie

    Melanie, I like this photo a lot. It would be interesting to catch its “evolution,” so I hope that you keep photographing it!

    January 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    • Thanks, Julie! I’m eager to follow this milkweed “pod.” Pablo, a fellow-blogger and fantastic photographer ( has suggested that I post a collage of the photos I’ve already taken of it, so I might just do that when I have some time. And then can add to it with future shots.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:08 am

  4. Very nice detail here…great that you found a viewpoint so that we could see inside…and well lit too to allow us to see that detail inside

    January 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    • Thanks, Steve. I was lucky that it was a cloudy but bright afternoon, so the light was filling the inside of the “pod” enough to reveal the interior. The exterior has a fascinating, very textured surface, too. I might post a shot or two of the outside at some point, too.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:11 am

  5. The texture is excellent.
    Would be nice to see a collage of all the photos that you have taken, so we can see the evolution.

    January 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    • Thanks for this idea, Pablo! This milkweed pod has so many versions of itself. I like the thought of creating a collage. I’ll work on it when I have some time. The textures and colors of the inside and out have changed so much over the last few months.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:13 am

  6. How unusual, looks like a pappadom or a chappati, no sense of scale how big?

    January 24, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    • Hi, Lesley. Thanks for the ideas! It turns out that it’s the remains of a milkweed “pod.” I realized after I posted it that there was no way to tell the size. It’s about 6 to 7 inches long.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:15 am

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