Where the Wild Things Are- Spreading Seeds

I was only gone a week! Suddenly the leaves are turning, the air is brisk, the migration of birds and butterflies is in full swing! Berries and seed are all over the woods and fields. As annoying as it is to find stickers clinging to you, remember that these seeds are the way these plants have survived for eons. Seeds need to be distributed in order to give the plant a chance to pass on it's genetics to the next generation. I like to try and remove them before I leave an area, so I am not bringing them with to a different place. 

Seed are also spread in other ways. Right now the jewel weed, or Touch Me Not, are in full bloom and seed pods are ripening. You would think the name "Touch Me Not" would be a warning that this plant will harm you in some way. Like Poison Ivy or Stinging Nettle. Nope. I don't know why it is named that. If you squeeze the pod gently between your fingers, it explodes and sends the seeds flying. It tickles. So if you are out and see this beautiful little flower, look for pods (about 1/2 inch long). If you squeeze it and nothing happens, it isn't ripe yet. If it explodes, take a good look at the parts left over and see the tightly curled springs and maybe a seed or two. 

Seed are also distributed by just dropping off the plant, or in the case of the milkweed family, by being attached to fluff that catches the winds and blows them along. I found the Whorled Milkweeds slender pods yesterday, still green. The Common Milkweed is already starting to dry out and blow around.

Of course, some seeds are encased in berries. These are eaten, pass through the digestive system and are expelled with fertilizer to give them an even better chance to succeed. 

Seeds do more than spread the plants. They are a necessary source of food for many out there in the woods. Birds and animals are working to either store up the energy needed to make a long migration, or tucking them away for later in the year. The less popular seed will linger on the stems, providing food in the depths of winter when there is nothing else left to eat. 

So when you are out and about, look around and see how many different types of seeds you see! 

 Touch Me Not

Touch Me Not

 Touch Me Not exploded seed pod

Touch Me Not exploded seed pod