Tag Archives: pods

Feathery Parachutes

8 Sep

There are a variety of ways unexpected plants can crop up in your garden, but often, you can thank the wind for it. If bees play a vital role in pollination, then wind plays a similar role when it comes to seed dispersal. Think of the dandelion, the bane of many gardeners’ existence. It has developed a perfect way of ensuring a next generation by encasing its seeds in balls of fluff. What the wind doesn’t carry away (or lawnmowers cut down and disperse), young children will happily blow into the air–all but guaranteeing a new crop of the ubiquitous yellow flowers right in the middle of your lawn, or your neighbors’.

The Butterfly Weed plant disperses seeds in a similar fashion, but its seeds reside in pods that dry out and then crack open, allowing the feathery parachutes to travel hither and yon (if the Milkweed Bugs that love the seeds and tissue of Butterfly Weed plants don’t get to all the seeds first…). Luckily, there are many, many seeds to go around. And then, it’s up to wind, luck, and Mother Nature. In the bottom two photos, the Butterfly Weed seed parachutes have gotten stuck on 1) a Verbena Bonariensis and 2) a spider web near our brick staircase. I hold out more hope for the former’s prospects than for the latter’s.



Two Unexpected Appearances

9 Jul

There are few things cheerier than the color orange. In the garden, one of my favorite orange flowers is Butterfly Weed, which as its name suggests, is just as attractive to butterflies as it is to me. Here is a close up from early June:

Now, most of the blooms are gone, and the Butterfly Weed is creating seeds, housed in the pods you can see here:

The pods dry out and crack open, and the seeds disburse in search of new homes.  [Note: People who know about these things (ie, real gardeners) collect the pods and keep the seeds for the following year instead of letting them blow all over the neighborhood. Now that I have finally figured this out, I will attempt to do the same.]

Last year, the seeds I neglected to harvest went their merry ways. One of them floated across the yard and over the fence, where it softly descended into a small patch of mulched earth near our garage. And there, it settled in for the winter, popping up unexpectedly as a new plant this year. I just discovered it a few weeks ago — a very nice surprise indeed. So this evening, I went to take a photo of it, and what did I find? A second unexpected appearance–in this case, a baby rabbit.