SOLVED: Help. What is this thing?

Tucson, AZ

Hi. I found this weird thing hidden under the leaves of a Beaucarnea recurvata in my greenhouse several months ago. I dug it up carefully (no roots to speak of) and potted it up. It's about 3 inches tall and about the size of a thumb. It's very soft and spongy to the touch. It has no spines and no branches and has not shown any real changes at all since I discovered it. I live in Tucson, Arizona. Does anyone know what the heck this is???? Thanks. Linda

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Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

Alien lifeform?

Perth, Australia

Could it be a rhizome of some sort? Was it attached to the palm? Or on the soil?

Groveland, FL

could be a cocoon of a moth or butterfly.

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Are those tiny rootlets on the underside?

Beautiful, BC(Zone 9b)

I don't think it's a plant-part. Reminds me of a carpet dust bunny. Can the surface be scraped away to show the green surface?

Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

This just gets weirder. I just realized we are talking about in a pot with a pony tail palm.
If it's a bug cocoon, well that's creepy, and I hope for your sake it doesn't hatch.
If it grows a mouth and starts speaking in a strange tongue, remove it from your house immediately.

Tucson, AZ

Hi. Love all your answers. Thanks. It has a soft, very short kind of fuzz on it that, with only light scratching, does not go away. When first discovered, it seemed to be attached to a volunteer Oxalis (or Shamrock, if that's different), because it moved if I yanked on the green vegetation, but I've been told it could not be any part of such a plant. The little rootlets are what remains from the volunteer plant. After several weeks inside, the "thing" remains soft and green and COULD be growing a bit, but no leaves or anything common like that. It has nothing to do with the Beaucarnea, I'm sure of that. I would assert that it is plant material, but from what planet, I'm not sure. Should I call NASA? I do not believe it is transmitting any radio signals! Linda

Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

You know, it is sounding more and more like the pupa or cocoon of some sort.

On the other hand, have there been any UFO sitings lately?

Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

You know what it reminds me of . . . a dorstenia. It will grow roots and a some leaves if that's what it is. They are real drought tolerant and don't like to be wet. I have mine planted in like 90 percent pumice and it likes it that way. It's a possibility. Mine has lost almost all of it's leaves due to neglect (other houseplants just haven't needed to be watered) and looks pretty much like your green slug stick only they are much taller. It could also be some other caudis forming plant.

Beautiful, BC(Zone 9b)

Some Oxalis do have large roots in that shape but without the fuzz. If it were me, I'd take the pruners to it and cut it in half. But that's just me. I've seen old stems that, at one point, were green and shrunk but it doesn't look like it broke off from anything. If it's dead, you're wasting valuable potting space. Call it Area51 for the moment.

Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

I thought it was a caterpillar, too.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Linda---

Here are the bulbous parts that Linda was refering to. These grow underneath the small brown corms on the Purple Oxalis.
I had never seen this before! It really blew me away! So weird! But--I had the Oxalis planted in a heavy clay W-Box
with really good soil in it- and I think it just went to town.
When freshly dug up, these large roots seem almost translucent. Then they dry and get a dull appearance.

You said it was attached to an Oxalis. It COULD be possible??? The fuzz could just be a fungus growth/covering
that may be thriving on the soil around this root. just guessing here......

Anyway--this is my contribution. Gita

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Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

Gita, I think you are right - you can see on the OP's images, where leaves would be attached.

Perth, Australia

Oxalis carnosa? Looks right.

http://www.cactusedintorni.com/images/phocagallery/succulente/oxalidaceae/thumbs/phoca_thumb_l_oxalis-carnosa3.jpg

This message was edited Jan 1, 2013 5:11 AM

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Thank you Gita...I have been wracking my old brain since I first saw this thread......I knew I had seen something similar before.

http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/potd/2008/05/oxalis_tuberosa.php

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Tucson, AZ

Hi. You are doing great and you're funny and informative, but I just don't think we've hit it on the head yet. I do know some about butterfly cocoons and such and it's nothing like that. It doesn't look like the roots of an Oxalis, as photographed in this thread. I'm a Dorstenia lover myself and don't see it as being of that genus. Never seen a fuzzy Dorstenia before. So far, the closest thing I've seen is a Pseudolithos (but I know that can't be it). That plant does not have the fuzz and it's much thicker and bumpier (unless my "thing" grew tall due to deprivation of natural sunlight). Tell ya' what I'm going to do... I'm going to dig it up and take a photo of the whole thing later today.

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Tucson, AZ

A photo of the whole weird thing, as promised. Now that it's out of the ground, I'm 99% sure it's plant matter. It has roots (note the fuzz!). As I'd mentioned, I had some suspicion that it might be related to a small volunteer shamrock/Oxalis that was growing next to it when it was discovered. I'm leaning even more that way now. If you look closely, you can see some shriveled up little leaves on one of the roots/stems. In life, these were very tiny shamrocks (rounded leaflets, not triangular in shape), and quite green. They died back several months ago, as is the custom with this genus of plants (I guess). Are we getting anywhere, my plant friends?? This is so much fun!! lf

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Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Could that be an immature or a failed truffle , or family there of?

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Here's a wild guess------

Your "thing" is upside down. The top has been inside the pot--and the bottom of this "root" is what you
photographed in the first post.

Because your dug up "thing" shows roots emanating from it from the bottom--with vestiges of dried up Oxalis stems and leaves---
it is possible that, somehow, the Oxalis plant got turned upside down when you dug it up and planted it.

Assuming that the bottom has been the top---and that top was attached to the corm the Oxalis grows from---
it is very possible that the roots would have come from the top (now what you think is the bottom).
That would explain the withered remnants of the stems and leaves.

And----the mystery thickens....................only the Garden Faery knows for sure.....I am starting to love this....

I will pass the link to this Thread on to all my Pals at the Mid Atlantic Gardening---we have all kinds of experts there.....
and we will all get some new perspectives on this.

Brace yourselves! Gita

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Echinocereus this family referred to as sponge cactus , the truffle which is completely out of place ,only not impossible .
Or perhaps an asparagus family (common name)
I lean towards the first ;small immature ,under developed, because of the description , Those did not get the name "sponge cactus" for no reason..

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Juhur, I was thinking along those same lines at first thought as well... "some sort of" cactus. Saguaro, perhaps? Those do start out under "nurse" trees or shrubs, preferring some sort of protection while they are still very young and spineless. I don't know if the "Ponytail Palm" would be considered a usual "nurse" plant for it, but... just a thought.

Tucson, AZ

Well, my Friends. The discussion goes on. Gita, I understand that you might think that I transplanted it upside down, but it was the odd, spongy thing that caught my eye, so I can verify that that was the end that was up, but it did have those little rootlets and some tiny shamrock leaves around it. I live in Tucson, AZ, so have seen hundreds and hundreds of baby cacti. I think I can rule that out, but I will check out sponge cacti. Truffles and asparagus, I know NOTHING about. Gita, I'm glad you're passing this on. It's become an obsession with me and I can see it's attracted the interest of other fine plant people. Happy New Year to all.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I'd rule out asparagus. Here's a photo of them just emerging from the soil and they grow fast. No hairs, no roots to be seen above the ground. Very smooth!

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Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

That was meant to imply "asparagus fern" Not truly asparagus family ,lily family I believe, Some have that look . Sorry if I confused any one
It is difficult enough as it is...

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Mmmmmm Pirl, that asparagus looks yummy already! =)

OK, here's another idea; Pedilanthus macrocarpus (Lady's Slipper).. maybe? I've yet to find a pic of one the same size as your "visitor", however, on this site: http://public.fotki.com/panoss/euphorbiaceae-pages/pedilanthus-macrocarpus-/pedilanthusmacrocarpus5.html I found a pic of one that looks pretty darned young. (photo attached, credit goes to the above mentioned site).

I'm also glad that Gita shared this, maybe with all of us losing our marbles we'll be able to help you! < =D (or, we could just all have a cuckoo party together!) =)

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Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Too late, now I'm hungry for asparagus and it's all your fault! < =P heeheeheee

Tucson, AZ

Asparagus does sound good, doesn't it, speediebean! Well, I have Pedilanthus and they do have a little fuzz, but I'd have to say 'probably not' to that suggestion too. This thing is about the size and thickness of a big ol' ugly thumb. Is there anything else I could do to help ID this thing short of cutting it up? I don't want to do that. It might SCREAM!! There's a horticultural extension service (U of Arizona) here in town, but they've never been too helpful when it comes to plants that are not of the common flower and veggie types, so I haven't gone there yet.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Echinocereus I still think this , right down to the fuzz..
"LADY FINGERS CACTI"
They do not grow needles until later if at all, and they are all fuzzy at some point .similar ) as to which one) Bump....

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Quote from juhur7 :
That was meant to imply "asparagus fern" Not truly asparagus family ,lily family I believe, Some have that look . Sorry if I confused any one
It is difficult enough as it is...


"Asparagus fern" and asparagus the vegetable are both genus Asparagus--just different species (and you're correct, they are in the lily family)

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Don't cut it up yet, Linda. As I mentioned further up the thread, I have seen these before. I have a call in to my friend, an assoc. professor/Horticulture at LSU. He is unavailable right now, but left him a message to call me. Even though it has been years since I found the "mini cukes", I am fairly sure Dan will remember. If necessary, can I copy your images posted above to e-mail to him?

Moon

This message was edited Jan 3, 2013 9:24 AM

Tucson, AZ

Hi, moonhowl. Surely, use the photos. Hope your friend Dan can ID this thing. A mini-cuke? Could be an apt description, except for the fuzzy part. Don't forget, that there could still be a connection between "the thing" and the tiny dead shamrock plant. When I tug on the shamrock, "the thing" moves. I'm getting really excited about this. Best doggoned volunteer I ever had come up in my GH. Entertaining too. Thanks for your help. Linda

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

You are most welcome. I feel that oxalis is correct, but I could be mis-remembering. It has been almost 15 years ago and I have logged in a lot of plant stuff..I liken my memory to a BookMark program that only saves in UNSORTED files...grin
The Memory....
I found the "velvety cukelets" in a flower pot that had gotten turned over and was over looked for a bit. At the time I found them, I was reading Through The Looking Glass, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to my 4 y/o grandson. I was showing them to my husband and said that they reminded me of "a caterpillar in the early stages of making a chrysalis. I found them in the Oxalis pot." My grandson told us they were "hookah-pillars"....when questioned, he said, "They are hookah-pillars because you found them in the AskAlice pot." Grin...yup he was raised on Jefferson Airplane albums.....so, I am sure of where I found them...it is the actual ID I am fuzzy on.

Tucson, AZ

Moonhowl, you know what they say about the 60s?? If you remember them, you weren't "really there"!! Anyhoo, I think we are getting close. "Velvety cukelet" is a good description. I have lots of volunteer Oxalis plants of, probably, varying species in my GH, but this "thing's" been tucked away unseen for up to 3 years. Still anxious to hear more about it. I've dug up many of these volunteer plants/weeds and have never seen anything like this!!

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

There ARE moments....GRIN. I saved your images and will e-mail them to him today.

Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

I received a plant from a fellow DG'er a few years ago. When I opened the package, besides the plant, there was soil and what I thought was Achimenes corms. As it turned out, they were tiny PINECONES - LOL.

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

GRIN...sometimes it can be really hard to ID things when seen out of context.

Beautiful, BC(Zone 9b)

I still think it's a long dead stem of a plant that has molded over after the top was removed in the place it originally grew (nursery/greenhouse).

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Aww come'on Growin....maybe the Pod People of SF movies lost a Podling.....grin

Beautiful, BC(Zone 9b)

ok, it's moldy petrified cat poop.

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