What kind of monster is this?

On my walk home this evening, I noticed this evil-looking thing sitting on the trunk of my car. I have to admit that it frightened me at first—until I inspected it closely. I suspect I was triggered because it reminded me of a young triffid, the venomous, human-eating plant in the horror novel and movie The Day of the Triffids.

Okay, botanists, tell us what it is:

 

73 Comments

  1. Sagan Worshipper
    Posted August 6, 2017 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Looks like a burr.

  2. Posted August 6, 2017 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Google image search revealed that it’s a plant.

    Way to go, Goole.

    /@

  3. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted August 6, 2017 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    How big is it?

  4. Posted August 6, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Did you open it up? It might be a gall, made by microscopic wasps. If so there will be a small cavity in each sub-unit, possibly with a tiny larva in it.

      • Posted August 6, 2017 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

        Yes, that looks similar, but I know it’s not a gall (or at least not solely a gall) for reasons I’ll give later.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 7, 2017 at 3:48 am | Permalink

          Hmmm,
          [hums “Jaws theme”]
          OK. I’m going to hypothesise that PCC(E) knows more about galls than the man on the Clapham omnibus. Not hard. And further, I’ll hypothesise that some species of Drosophila have gall-forming interactions with a variety of plants.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 6, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      That plant has a lot of gall 😏

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 7, 2017 at 3:45 am | Permalink

      Gall. My initial thought too. (Disclosure : after getting up to speed on orchids, Dad went on to “do” the grasses, then sedges and for he last 20-odd years has been getting up to speed on galls. We can hardly go for a walk (or a drive) without it being punctuated by “oh, there’s a Murblefunfig Gall” comments. Disconcerting when doing 90 down the motorway, with the gall in question being on a tree on the opposite side of the road.

      • Posted August 7, 2017 at 3:46 am | Permalink

        A Murblefunfig Gall? Send in the pictures!

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 7, 2017 at 3:50 am | Permalink

          [Blurred picture of opposite side of motorway.]
          Just because ad can spot them, doesn’t mean that I can.
          We have the same interaction over rocks – I see things that he just doesn’t see. Or rather, that he doesn’t notice as being significant.

  5. Posted August 6, 2017 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    If you still have it, cutting it open so we can see more of the structure would help. It might be a gall, but I suspect it’s a “normal” fruit (cluster of them, really) of something I don’t immediately recognize.

  6. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 6, 2017 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  7. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 6, 2017 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear! Is someone using plants to send you a mean message? I hope not! Plants should not be used in such nefarious ways. 🙂

    And Day of the Triffids scared me when I was a kid. The sucking sounds!

    • Mark R.
      Posted August 6, 2017 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, the 50’s had some really cool horror movies that scarred the crap out of me as a kid. Also Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Blob (Steve McQueen!)

      • Lee
        Posted August 6, 2017 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        IMO, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is one of the great psychological horror films of all time. The scene where the protagonist looks in the eyes of his female companion who had briefly fallen asleep and suddenly realizes she is one of “them” still haunts my nightmares.

        I often think about this as I interact with many people who voted for and support Trump, and right wing ideologies in general. Parasitic memes and meme-plexes have taken over the brains of a large segment of our population. They look like people we know, but they aren’t who they used to be.

        I just try to avoid falling asleep…

        • Mark R.
          Posted August 6, 2017 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

          Invasion of the Deplorables!!!

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted August 7, 2017 at 12:13 am | Permalink

          And it’s all Dawkins’ fault, as usual.

          After all, memes didn’t exist until he invented them.

          😦

          cr

  8. Posted August 6, 2017 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    it looks a lot like a gigantic version of Sparganium americanum, so i suspect it’s a seed pod, too.

    https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=SPAM

    IGNORE that SPAM, that is a plant classification

  9. Posted August 6, 2017 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Hazel nut cluster

    • Posted August 6, 2017 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      I agree. Check out photos of bracts of Corylus columa, Turkish Hazelnut.

      • Posted August 6, 2017 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        Tried that one on Jerry by secret channel( since I did not know how to post the link or embed the image). He says ‘no’???

        • Bill Morrison
          Posted August 6, 2017 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

          It’s an immature fruit cluster of Corylus colurna, a European hazel species. Note the glandular hairs.

          • Diane G.
            Posted August 6, 2017 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

            Glad to hear it. That’s the “Turkish Hazel” I mentioned below. 🙂

            Is there a purpose for the glandular hairs?

          • nicky
            Posted August 7, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

            Ye I concur, a fruit/seedpod of Corylus colurna. Here in SA we have several seedpods looking like that, but not hazelnuts. Converging evolution? Poses the question: what is the selective advantage of looking like an alien? 🙂

      • Posted August 6, 2017 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

        I’m not happy with that. Jerry’s mystery blob has abundant glandular trichomes, and I’m not seeing bracts on it — seems more like a cluster of fruiting calyces. I’m thinking I’ve seen Ipomoea fruits that are something like this. I’ll look into that possibility.

      • Posted August 6, 2017 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

        ::palm slap::
        Of course! No wonder it was so familiar: we have beaked hazels (Corylus cornuta). So I knew this was a seed and I knew that I had seen similar but couldn’t place it. It’s not often we get to see the cluster because everything out there gobbles them up before we can usually see them.

        Mystery solved! I also thank you, sedgequeen.

        • Posted August 6, 2017 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

          I’m sorry, but I’m sure it’s not Corylus. The resemblance is only general and none of the visible details match.

      • Diane G.
        Posted August 6, 2017 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

        Looks good to me.

        • Posted August 6, 2017 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

          That might be it. It fell from a tree overhead, and there are more, so I’ll have the answer after I walk to work tomorrow.

          • Posted August 6, 2017 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

            More images, please! Cut one open and let us see the actual fruit and maybe a seed.

            • Diane G.
              Posted August 6, 2017 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

              Here’s a <a href="Turkish Hazel“>Visit W3Schools seed/nut pod.

              Wonder if Jerry’s find could be some horticulturally produced hazelnut variant?

          • Diane G.
            Posted August 6, 2017 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

            Oh, the suspense!

  10. Posted August 6, 2017 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    A katydid?

    • Posted August 6, 2017 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      Did you consider nightjar?

      • Diane G.
        Posted August 6, 2017 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

        😀

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 6, 2017 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

        A nightjar mimicking a katydid.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 7, 2017 at 3:54 am | Permalink

          A nightjar mimicking Jerry’s car.
          Damned good mimic too, particularly after Jerry opened the door and got in.
          Do those “transformer” movies use the obvious joke?

  11. Posted August 6, 2017 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Probably,then, a weevil mimicking a hazel nut cluster?????

  12. GBJames
    Posted August 6, 2017 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Audrey II?

  13. ladyatheist
    Posted August 6, 2017 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know the species, but the name is “Audrey 2”

  14. Susan D.
    Posted August 6, 2017 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    So does Jerry have hazelnut trees growing where he parks his car?

  15. jeffery
    Posted August 6, 2017 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Should have had a “trigger-warning”, for “Day of the Triffids” viewers on this post! Gotta keep up with PuffHo! 🙂

    • Posted August 7, 2017 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Funnily enough, I was watching Day of the Triffids last night, and as soon as I saw the photo I thought “baby triffid”, before I read Jerry’s comment. Keep a bucket of salt water handy, Jerry, just in case.

  16. Craw
    Posted August 6, 2017 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    The soul of Linda Sarsour, come to haunt you.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 7, 2017 at 12:18 am | Permalink

      Good one!

      cr

  17. dabertini
    Posted August 6, 2017 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    “I have to admit that it frightened me at first”

    But you are Angry Cat Man. I guess we can call it your kriptonite. It is green after all.

  18. Posted August 7, 2017 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    I’m no scientist. Just a 77-yo wannabe. But it surely looks to me like the female fruit of Maclura pomifera, commonly known as a Texas horse apple.

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 7, 2017 at 2:12 am | Permalink

      That’s what we call Osage Orange, but I think the Texas name is a lot more fun. 🙂

      Had a look on Google images and although there is slight resemblance, that part (which appears to actually be the female flower, not fruit, but you probably knew that) really shows significant differences from what Jerry found.

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maclura_pomifera#/media/File:Maclura_pomifera_003.JPG

      (Add https:// to the beginning of that for a hotlink.)

  19. Graham
    Posted August 7, 2017 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    “the horror novel and movie The Day of the Triffids.” Noooo!

    More accurately ‘The thought-provoking science-fiction novel and the sensationalist horror movie based very loosely on it.’

    If you get time Jerry, do read the novel. I think you’d enjoy it.

    • Posted August 7, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Yes, the book is much better. One of John Wyndham’s “cosy catastrophes” (I think it was Brian Aldiss who coined that phrase, to cover Wyndham’s many novels where a catastrophe wipes out most, but crucially not all, of the human race).

      • Diane G.
        Posted August 8, 2017 at 4:30 am | Permalink

        In a huge coincidence, I just read The Day of the Triffids for the first time two or three weeks ago. What other Wyndhams do you recommend?

        • Posted August 8, 2017 at 4:53 am | Permalink

          Oh Diane, that’s a tough one, as I read most of them about 50 years ago. I suggest that you start with The Chrysalids (aka Re-Birth), since it touches on several themes common on this website.

          The Midwich Cuckoos is, of course, the source of the movie Village of the Damned, and one I have enjoyed.

          Good luck, and let us know sometime what you think of them.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted August 8, 2017 at 5:12 am | Permalink

          And there’s also The Kraken Wakes.

          Most of Wyndham’s sci-fi stories deal with current society (or what was current when he was writing them) and explore what happens to ordinary people when something catastrophic occurs. But like Colin, it’s a long time since I read them.

          His short stories are quite good. I’ve just been reminded that he wrote Dumb Martian, which was a commentary on racial prejudice and misogyny – not without a streak of wit.

          cr

  20. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted August 7, 2017 at 3:45 am | Permalink

    It’s a baby one of these:

    Whatever you do, do not annoy it!

    cr

  21. John Ottaway
    Posted August 7, 2017 at 4:29 am | Permalink

    Slight aside…

    I was 10 years old when the BBC series of Day of the Triffids was on and my Dad convinced me that a road sign that said, “Caution! Heavy Plant Crossing”, were because of them

    When I tried to do this on my own kids, they just asked what Triffid was

    • Posted August 7, 2017 at 6:35 am | Permalink

      Time for a remake!

      Given how much Hollywood is mining old films and series, I’m surprised we have’t seen one yet.

      /@

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 8, 2017 at 2:07 am | Permalink

      What the heck is a “Heavy Plant Crossing?”

      • Posted August 8, 2017 at 3:53 am | Permalink

        This picture should make it clear:

        The official guidance:

        O3.11.4 Where construction traffic, especially heavy earth-moving equipment, regularly crosses an existing public road, the junction should be signed as for crossroads and a “HEAVY PLANT CROSSING” plate variant to diagram 511 should be provided below a “crossroads ahead” sign to diagram 504.1. The normal road works signing, including portable traffic signal control, will also be required on the public road.

        /@

  22. Phil Rounds
    Posted August 7, 2017 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Looks like some kinda thistle.

  23. Bill Morrison
    Posted August 7, 2017 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    As I said above yesterday, it’s an unripe fruit cluster of the Eurasian hazel, Corylus colurna. It is commonly known as the Turkish tree hazel. See the Wikipedia article with pictures: http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Corylus_colurna

    The compound leaf shown in another post is not from this species. It may be from a nearby honey locust.

  24. Posted August 7, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Were there seeds in those hollow spaces, or were seeds visible under the tree? Galls also have hollow chambers. If there are seeds, it would conclusively disprove the gall hypothesis.

  25. Kevin
    Posted August 7, 2017 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    It’s a Capillamentum Praesidis

  26. Posted August 7, 2017 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Looks like thistle to me.

    Maybe Silybum marianum

  27. Kevin
    Posted August 7, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Capillamentum Praesidis is President’s Wig not to be confused with Capillamentum Pseudopraesidis, The False President’s Wig, not to be confused with Capillamentum Pseudopraesidis Vulgaris


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