Wednesday, November 7, 2018
This photo from mid May is a flower that has captured our attention. Six of its parts are getting ready to spread and capture pollen so that seeds will form. The longest threadlike piece is the single female part. Its visibly moist end is ready to catch and hold pollen. Two of the shorter male parts are displaying visible yellow pollen. We have yet to see any insect activity around these Pinxter flowers so how the pollen is moved is not known. Wind is a possible answer to that question.
For the past several weeks we have been making daily visits to these plants looking to see seeds. This picture shows several open seed pods and one that remains tightly closed. Next year's flower buds are also visible but that is another story. The withered remains of the female part that captured and transported pollen can still be seen protruding from some seed pods.
A tray of sterilized potting soil was set out to receive Pinxter seeds. The hardware cloth cover is to keep the mice away. This morning a branch tip that still held several unopened seed pods was cut and pushed into the ground. One flower bud was inadvertently included. Our wild imagination saw the possibility of this cutting sending down roots. Our attempt to take stem cuttings earlier in the year was a dismal failure. At that time the plant is growing vigorously and the tip with no roots simply died. This is the time of year when hardwood plants send out new root growth so we see the possibility that we may have stumbled onto something.
We were able to shake out several seeds from an almost open seed pod. Exactly how the seeds form could not be seen but we are now quite certain that the published report that described these seeds as sporting milkweed like fluff on both ends now appears false. These seeds were placed on the surface of the sterilized soil since it appears that the plant simply lets the wind plant the seeds. So now we wait. It is somewhat bizarre that two people well into their seventh decade are so excited about the possibility of a growing seed that will require many years of growth before its first flower is seen. It is possible that an outlook like that is why we have reached the middle of our seventh decade.