Help me identify this... thing.
July 30, 2009 12:59 PM   Subscribe

What is this strange organic thing that washed up on the lake shore at my parents house?

My parents live on a lake in northern Idaho and have had several of these wash up this summer and several have washed up on shore at the neighbors' house as well. This is the first time any of them have seen them.

The one in the pictures was about 30 inches long and 5 or 6 inches in diameter. It smelled almost like rotting fruit, and could be smelled from 20 or 30 feet away.

Here is a picture of it up close.

And here is a picture of the inside of it.
posted by Paul KC to Science & Nature (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Stalk of a yucca plant or something similar?

Wait, six inches in diameter? Some yucca I've never met, then.
posted by Netzapper at 1:03 PM on July 30, 2009

To me, it looks like the stalk of a very thick fern, or perhaps something in that family.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 1:24 PM on July 30, 2009

According to Mrs. Schustafa, that's a stalk of a lilypad (like Spatterdock or Bullhead).
posted by schustafa at 1:28 PM on July 30, 2009

At first glance I thought it was a waterlogged pine cone- but now I conclude it's what's left of a plant inflorescence or spadix- possibly lilypad.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 1:53 PM on July 30, 2009

I had no idea that lilypad stalks could be that thick! I am having trouble finding pictures of lilypad stalks online to confirm its identity. Is there a scientific or anatomical term that I should be searching for?
posted by Paul KC at 2:02 PM on July 30, 2009

Do these photos help? Yellow water lilies can certainly have giant roots. I've seen lily roots floating in freshwater after dredging has taken place and after a lot of boat traffic has moved through an area. When healthy, the roots look yellowish, but once they start rotting they turn brown and mushy. Are there water lilies in the lake your parents live on?
posted by onoclea at 2:44 PM on July 30, 2009

Thanks Onoclea, that picture is really helpful. There are indeed lily pads on the lake. I think I can now lay my fears that there is some sort of tentacle monster inhabiting the lake to rest.
posted by Paul KC at 3:03 PM on July 30, 2009

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