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.
When the flowers first emerge, they are a whitish yellow color.
Within a few days, they self-pollinate and start to turn pink.
When the flower drops, it leaves behind a pod called a boll.
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.
Once the fluffy part of the cotton opens, it has to dry a little before it can be harvested and processed.
And thanks to photography, now I know something about cotton. :)