Tuesday, October 11, 2011

First Time Seeds

This is the peak time for finding ripe seed on the prairie. For the most part, seed has been produced in abundance. I’ve had a lot of fun checking out the seed heads of grasses and forbs. The Scaly Blazing Star, Liatris squarrosa, has always been a disappointment when it comes to seed production.

Things always look good on the surface. At first glance, you would think these contents of one seed head were a mass of viable seeds.

A cross-sectional view reveals most seeds to be just empty casings. This is what I’ve come to expect from this species at Blue Jay Barrens. The encouraging thing is evidence that there were three seeds that actually developed in this seed head. These are the first seeds that I’ve ever seen produced by any of the plants.

The population of Scaly Blazing Star has held steady through the years at about 40 flowering plants. To increase that number, I need some seed. If I do manage to get seed, I’ll use it to start plants in one of my growing beds. There I can pamper the plants so they produce an abundance of seed that I can bring back out and distribute in the field. Maybe this will be my lucky year.

A few seed heads were dry and ready for harvest, so I went ahead and collected them. Instead of cutting them all in two, I used a less invasive method of examination and believe that there are several fully developed seeds in the batch. I’ll be back out every few days to collect the remaining seed heads as they dry. Maybe next year I can show off a pot full of Scaly Blazing Stars.


  1. It seems telling to me that these are not "fluffing out" as ripe Liatris seed heads should.

  2. You're right James. The behavior of these plants is a mystery I'd like to unravel.