After a long quest, I finally found it. This is Wild Clematis. I've been searching for this plant for over a month. Even though the time flew by, it seems like a lot longer. It turns out I was looking in the wrong place, and I could never find it. When I walked down the right trail in Heritage Park, I saw this plant growing all over.
Wild Clematis is also known as Clematis Virginiana, or Eastern Virgin's Bower. I saw it called Devil's Darning Needles in some places. In this form you see here, it's sometimes known as Old Man's Beard. It's from the family Ranunculaceae, Buttercup. It's a climbing vine with groups of little white flowers, that turn into these fuzzy seed clusters.
I have four pictures here, because this was a special quest of mine, and now I feel quite triumphant for finally completing it. If these are pictures of the wrong plant, my search is over anyway, because I know it's pretty close. Each one of these pictures might make good wallpaper for anyone interested. If you're not, you stopped reading a long time ago anyway.
Here's a good closeup of one of the seed clusters of the plant. It's kind of spiky looking. It looks like a spiky ball with hair growing out of it. Kind of alien looking isn't it? These two top pictures are what this plant looks like right about now in early fall.
I think these seed clusters come apart at the spiky root end of each individual hair. I think each of those are the actual individual seeds. You can see that they are kind of fuzzy. They will get even fuzzier, and really start looking like the hair of an old man's beard.
I read that some members of the clematis family are poisonous. I'm not sure whether this is true for this particular type. In some cases you can't even touch the poisonous kind. I wouldn't take any chances if you come across one of these on a hike. Don't touch strange plants. Some people grow these, so maybe they're okay. You'd have to ask that person about it, if you know someone.
Well now. Here's the original wild clematis plant that started it all. I saw this in the summer when this furry looking plant had these pretty little flowers instead. It confused me at the time, because I had no knowledge at all of plants. I'm good enough to tell the difference between two plants together now. If you want to know more about the plant than I write about here, just follow the links in this post. They should lead you in the right direction.
This wild clematis is growing together with a Gray Dogwood plant. That's a Stem Sawfly buzzing around in front. The insect was what I was initially interested when I took the picture. The whole adventure blossomed from there. It's been a long and interesting one.
This last picture is a wider view of an even fuzzier section of this plant. Now you might be able to see why it has the name old man's beard, a little better. I could show an even wider shot, but I only have so much space here. The plant grows for about twenty feet on the trail I was on. If you want to see more and you're in the area, go see it for yourself. If you ask me nicely, I might even take you to it myself.
I have to say, these plants took me on an interesting journey. I never expected to be looking specifically for types of plants before. I've had so many disappointments when I didn't find them. But now I feel I've had a great everyday adventure with them. It gave me a nice sense of triumph to finally find them.