Another Mystery Plant

by Bethany Plonski November. 27, 2018 315 views

This is a sad commentary on modern culture, but I think I have probably learned more plants in the short time that I've had my camera than I have in my entire life until now. In fact, part of what I enjoy about photography is solving the mystery of "what is this plant?" or "what is that creature?" and learning more about the things I see around me.

One of the parks near my house has a few working farm and garden areas, and a couple months ago when the other gardens were being harvested, I noticed that there was still one big rectangular plot of plants growing. I went to look at the plants but didn’t recognize them, so I took some pictures hoping I could figure out what they were later. I would have never suspected it, but they were young cotton plants. 

Until then I only recognized the white fluffy version of cotton, so it was interesting to learn how it grows. It starts with little buds called “squares,” which will eventually open into a flower. 

Squares in late September

Squares in late September

When the flowers first emerge, they are a whitish yellow color. 

This one reminded me of an okra blossom, which now makes sense, because okra and cotton are both in the mallow family.

This one reminded me of an okra blossom, which now makes sense, because okra and cotton are both in the mallow family.

Within a few days, they self-pollinate and start to turn pink.

When the flower drops, it leaves behind a pod called a boll. 

Late season bolls

Late season bolls

As the boll matures, it turns brown while the cotton fibers start growing inside.

The boll keeps expanding until the fibers split it apart. This can take 40-80 days.

Bolls opening in November

Bolls opening in November

Once the fluffy part of the cotton opens, it has to dry a little before it can be harvested and processed.

Base of the plant after the fibers are removed

Base of the plant after the fibers are removed

And thanks to photography, now I know something about cotton. :)

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Tsao T-F 1 year, 1 month ago

Very good!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Tsao T-F 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you, I'm enjoying learning about your plants too!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Heike 1 year, 1 month ago

That's super interesting Bethany, and very cool documented. Great work, bravo !+1

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Heike 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you, Heike! I really appreciate that. After I read your post on spinning yesterday, it made me think of this, and I realized I had been forgetting about these photos.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Andi Saw 1 year, 1 month ago

This is SOOOO COOOOL! Thanks!
Girl, you have the patience of a serial killer! I love that! smile blue heart

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Andi Saw 1 year, 1 month ago

joy This cracked me up. When I was a teacher, people always used to ask me "how are you so patient?" 
Patience is the positive side of the coin, but I can be stubborn or too single-focused sometimes too.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Andi Saw Replied to Bethany Plonski 1 year, 1 month ago

Cool... teacher of...??? 
(Please don't say math, please don't say math, please don't say math... ) smile

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Andi Saw 1 year, 1 month ago

grinning I've always been horrifically bad at math. I taught Latin, literature, and grammar.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Andi Saw Replied to Bethany Plonski 1 year, 1 month ago

CAVE CANEM!!! Veni, vidi vici. Carpe diem. Ubi maior, minor cessat. Cogito ergo sum. 
All I remember about latin are sayings! smile

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Andi Saw 1 year, 1 month ago

I'm impressed you remember so many! I'm getting rusty now that I'm not teaching it every day.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Greg Blaney 1 year, 1 month ago

Very interesting, Bethany. I never knew this before (we don't grow cotton in this part of the world).  And like you, I now know something about cotton, too. Thanks to your blog, +1

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Greg Blaney 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you, Greg! I'm glad you found it interesting. I know the South has a long history of growing cotton, but it's not something I see often here in the suburbs either.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Björn Roose 1 year, 1 month ago

Give a (wo)man a camera and (s)he learns to see again smile I had never seen the young plants either, but then again, I don't live where they grow smile

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Björn Roose 1 year, 1 month ago

Exactly! That’s a great quote. Photography is teaching me to see and pay attention in a very different way than I used to.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Björn Roose Replied to Bethany Plonski 1 year, 1 month ago

You're welcome smile

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
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