Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Seed Heads

We’re past the season of flowers. The showy stamens have withered and disappeared. The colorful petals have lost their color and fallen away. What’s left is often passed over as an unattractive husk, but there is a beauty of texture and form in the spent bloom that is not revealed until the showy portions of the flower fade away. The winter form of the thistle blossom can be just as attractive as the bright purple blooms of summer.

On close inspection, the Monarda blossom always seems a bit lopsided. The winter seed head takes on a symmetry that the early flower lacked. It’s like a gangly youth finding poise and balance with maturity.

Boneset is still holding on to some seeds. The thread-like pappus appear as strands of electricity radiating from the seeds. Each strand has its own unique combination of bends and curves.

The Orange Coneflower seed head is like a dark fortress protecting its treasure of seeds. I guess it wouldn’t be a sound survival tactic to use bright colors to advertise the presence of nutritious seeds.

The pappus of the Gray Goldenrod make it appear as though the plant is already carrying a snow load. The white pappus bristles are almost showier than the small yellow flowers.

The bright blue petals of the Bluehearts disappear and leave behind dark urns of dust like seed. As the wind whips the stalk, the seeds exit through a small opening in the top of the pod.

Dried sepals and bracts of the composites form stars. When I was in seventh grade I used stars like this on an art project and was commended for my inventive use of plant materials. I remember the A I got on that project every time I see plant stars. It’s not like I got so many A’s that I can’t remember every one.

The Ironweed goes beyond making a star and creates a false bloom that is every bit as attractive as the purple bloom of summer. What sculptor wouldn’t be proud to take credit for this creation? There’s beauty in plants in any season. It’s a shame so many people fail to notice.


  1. Hi, beautiful picturses! i really liked.. you have great photos here..

  2. Very, very nice. Just lovely pictures.

  3. What a wonderful post today, Steve. I think seed heads are so beautiful, I collect them as decoration around my house each year. If I was a wintertime bride, I'd decorate with them there, too, even carry them in my bouquet. This post definitely gets saved for future reference!! ~karen
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Hi this post very much...the last two star shapes are beautiful!!
    I think they all deserve an A+!!
    Have a good Thanksgiving Day!!

  5. Thank you, Dejemonos sorprender. I’m glad you like them.

    Thanks, Lois.

    Thanks, Karen. I also bring in a few dried seed heads each year, but instead of being decorations, they are more things that end up laying around in odd areas.

    Hi, grammie g. I’m not sure what I would do with an A+. That’s something I never experienced.