Photo of the Week – November 24, 2017

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I am thankful for much, starting with a loving wife and family, and a stable and (sufficiently) prosperous life.  Much lower on the list, but still important – and relevant to this blog – I’m also thankful that I can still go out and discover items of interest in the prairie, even in late November.

Here in Nebraska, we’re experiencing some pleasantly mild weather right now.  Regardless of the weather where you are, don’t be afraid to explore a prairie near you, even if it looks brown and boring from a distance.  The stories are still there, you just have to fill in more of the pieces yourself.

Late November prairies can be fairly monochromatic, but still contain plenty of potential discoveries.
The exit hole in this old goldenrod gall shows that a gall fly successfully emerged from it last spring. The galls without open holes contain (probably) a live larva sheltering over the winter.
Something interesting happened to this Maximilian sunflower  (Helianthus maximiliani) as it grew, but I’m not really sure what that might have been.
Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis) still has seeds in many of its pods this time of year.  I’ve heard the hard seeds are difficult to digest for many wildlife species, so it’s interesting to wonder whether animals that eat them ever get any benefit from doing so.

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This gall thumbs its nose at your preconceived ideas of what galls should look like.