Friday, March 2, 2012

Seed saga continues

I always want to make sure that my posts are absolutely accurate. But I know I do make mistakes. When that happens, I make corrections as fast as I can. Which brings me to today. I believe I've finally gotten to the bottom of the "Well-armed seed" mystery (February 15, 2012, post), which was initially solved by Texas Master Naturalist Edie Zaiontz of New Braunfels. Without a plant or flower specimen, she identified my cool, "corkscrew" seed as coming from a stork's bill (Erodium texanum). Wow, I was impressed!

About the same time, Sherri Stockman of Blanco asked me via Facebook about a pretty little mystery wildflower in her yard. Feeling a bit smug (I confess!), I pronounced it to be stork's bill (Erodium texanum). THEN a week or so later, I happened to be cruising through wildflower photos on MY blog and came across a April 12, 2010, post with an image of  Erodium texanum in bloom (right). Not the same flower! Or bloom time. Uh oh. 

Which meant I had the wrong species. (But many thanks to Edie, we DID have the right genus!)

So I returned to Facebook and, red faced, publicly correctly myself. What's blooming right now are Erodium cicutarium, commonly called redstem stork's bill or cutleaf filaree. Alas, it is not a Texas native but was likely introduced by in the 1700s by Spanish explorers. However, wildlife do find the foliage quite tasty. Rodents love to eat the seeds.

To further document this species, this morning I shot more images of the flowers and seeds.... 

Right after I snapped a few pictures of this seed, it fell off!

Bees and other insects do love the flowers.

This system of reproduction intrigues me. 
How do these appendages work in tandem with the blooms?

I pulled up an entire plant so I could see the blooms and "stork's bill" together. Sigh...this is going to involve MORE research...

   In the meantime, here's more detail on the seeds from the USDA Forest Service page on Erodium cicutarium:

"Cutleaf filaree reproduces sexually...When moist, the coiled styles enveloping the seed expand, uncoil, and drive the arrow-shaped fruit into the ground. Seed can be driven as deep as 1 inch, although seed buried less deeply is more likely to germinate...Seed either falls beneath the parent plant or is disseminated by animals. Rodents frequently bury cutleaf filaree seed in a food cache where unconsumed seed later germinates. Seed also catches on animal fur and is disseminated in that manner. Seeds of Erodium spp. can remain viable for many years, and form extensive seed banks." 

A scene from our yard.....
Why it's also called redstem stork's bill....

UPDATE March 13, 2012
More close-ups of the seeds...they just fascinate me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I bought 2 of these plants today and was thinking about planting them in my garden. Is that a good or bad idea? I live in San Diego, CA near the coast. The weather here rarely falls below 60 and usually doesn't get much hotter than 80 in the daytime. Nights are a bit cooler--sometimes in the low 50's in the winter.

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