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Fuzzy seed pods, ID requested

 
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 17390
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 10:38 pm    Post subject: Fuzzy seed pods, ID requested Reply with quote

I figure somebody will recognize these right off. Location is Poudre Canyon above Fort Collins, Colorado.

What are they?





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Thanks!

--Rik
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Cactusdave



Joined: 09 Jun 2009
Posts: 1481
Location: Bromley, Kent, UK

PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This looks like a species of Clematis. The seeds are very distinctive. In Europe there is a species with similar feathery seeds with the descriptive common name in Britain of 'old man's beard'
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rjlittlefield
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Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dave, thanks for the suggestion. I agree that the seed pods look like Clematis. And indeed there is a lot of Clematis in this area. But all the Clematis that I know are vines that grow interleaved with other woody bushes. In this case, the bush was standing alone, no vine in sight, and it was uniformly covered with these seed pods arising directly from woody stems. So I'm thinking not Clematis. I'll be interested to hear what other suggestions come up.

Thanks!

--Rik
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Cactusdave



Joined: 09 Jun 2009
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Location: Bromley, Kent, UK

PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are probably right, on second look the leaves and structure of the seed head are not particularly Clematis like. I just don't know the plants of North America well enough.
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twebster
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Joined: 26 Jul 2006
Posts: 442
Location: Phoenix "Valley of the Sun", Arizona, USA

PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These could be a species of mountain mahogoney. This is a favorite browse of deer.
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bingo -- thanks, Tom!

That's a small group, and judging from the leaf form and habit of the bush, this would be Cercocarpus montanus -- Alderleaf Mountain-mahogany.

Wikipedia notes that "The Alderleaf variety is prominent in the foothills of Colorado but usually remains under 1 meter-3 feet in height because of incessant browsing by elk and deer. This variety of mountain-mahogany is generally located on the south or west facing slopes because it cannot thrive in the shade on the north facing slopes." This particular bush was more like 2 meters high, but it was located in a popular day-use area that I suspect the deer tend to stay away from.

--Rik
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