Mystery Flora/Cryptopod Double Header: Light & Dark

Lots of mysteries lately, I know. I’ve been dealing with the mystery of Franklin Falls. It’ll be easy, sez I. Snoqualmie Batholith and some hornfels, sez I. Nothing simpler, sez I. Then I had to go and ask the question, “Well, what was the hornfels before it was hornfels?” And this is where my best laid plans for a sweet and simple geology post went gang aft agley. Of course they did. They always do. Because I keep asking questions and haven’t got answers until after a long chase through ninety-seven thousand pages of search results.

Anyway. Coming soon. In the meantime, mysteries! Here’s a little delight from our Franklin Falls trip.

Mystery Flora/Cryptopod I
Mystery Flora/Cryptopod I

Little white flower, dark little flying thing. Nice contrast. And if you look a bit closer, you’ll see it’s up against a very nice example of the granodiorite of the Snoqualmie Batholith.

Mystery Flora/Cryptopod II
Mystery Flora/Cryptopod II

Never you mind that green tint – the Snoqualmie granodiorite isn’t green, it’s just the ubiquitous life getting all over everything here on the wet side of the Cascades. This is why I expect we’ll find life on other worlds with liquid water. Add water, and shit seems to grow everywhere in copious quantites.

Mystery Flora/Cryptopod III
Mystery Flora/Cryptopod III

Our cryptopod was kind enough to pose for a profile shot. Wasp-waisted, isn’t it? Very buff shoulders, or whatever you call that segment above the other segment. Don’t mind me. Head’s full o’ rocks and ice, very little room left for technical terms for squidgy living things.


Mystery Flora/Cryptopod IV
Mystery Flora/Cryptopod IV

There’s a rather nice view of our cryptopod’s top side, and our mystery flower’s weird sort of middle bits. Interesting, that flower. I hope it has some awesome Latin name, like our Oplopanax horridus.

Back to ye olde trek through numerous sources for me. In the meantime, I’ve got two requests: if anyone has tips for identifying what hornfels might have been in their past life, I’d love ’em. And I’ve got about eleventy-trillion photos of skunk cabbage to post for the aficionados, but not a bloody thing left to say. Help me come up with clever things to say about skunk cabbage, my darlings. Poetry, songs, recipes, terrible encounters with their stench, whatever comes to mind.Then we can have our skunk cabbage, but I’m hoping we won’t eat it, too.

Mystery Flora/Cryptopod Double Header: Light & Dark

8 thoughts on “Mystery Flora/Cryptopod Double Header: Light & Dark

  1. rq

    Between hepatica and bloodroot, I have to go with Hepatica nobilis, but I’m not 100% because of the leaves. They’re a bit less three-lobed than I would like, but it’s hard to say. EIther way, they’re a hardy little plant that pokes out in the spring in all kinds of climates, and tend to cover the ground.
    The cryptopod is a dipteran (flies, mosquitoes, etc.), but I’m going to let someone else specify (ok fine I’ll guess as far as Platypezidae, but that’s a random guess, flies are plenty!).
    (Insect body parts, for further reference: head-thorax-abdomen. All appendages (2 pair wings, 3 pair legs) come out of the thorax, which is the muscular centre of the insect. The abdomen is a repository for internal organs. That’s the short version. ;) )

  2. 2

    Given that it attracts fly pollinators, the flower probably smells pretty awful as well. Of course, as small as it is, you probably need to get close to find out.

  3. 3

    Hepatica, no. Right family, wrong genus; unlobed leaf in the buttercup family usually means Caltha, a marsh marigold, and in your location probably C. leptosepala, white alpine marsh marigold. Syrphid flies do a lot of pollinating, but don’t know if that one pictured or not.

  4. 4

    The flower and leaves look like a strawberry to me! Which probably shows how little attention I paid to botany in school. The insect is definitely a fly, order diptera. Some of them do a really good job of looking like wasps, this one not so much.

  5. rq

    I’m inclined to agree with phytophactor on the plant, especially due to the leaves. The construction of the plant looks suitable for marshy grounds, too – the long extending stems, instead of hugging the ground, as hepatica usually does.
    I don’t think the fly is a syrphid, though. But again, that’s just personal opinion.

  6. 7

    Regarding hornfels, best bet is to look for unmodified parent material nearby (or refs to it)- this is essentially how we were able to ID the Marys Peak hornfels as Tyee. There are other things to look for, such as remnant bedding, structures and grain sizes, but those require more practice and patience on-site. That is, you’ll have to spend a lot of time picking over many dozens of samples to find examples and establish patterns. Finally, without microscopic/petrographic examination (or even with it), really getting a handle on hornfels is a mule-headed problem.

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