A slap in the face can be interesting

When checking some plants beside the greenhouse today I received a sting on the cheek, not from an insect but from something minute that had hit my face at some speed. I carried on for a while and occasionally heard the sound of something small hitting against the glass. I took my gaze down to what was an empty collecting tray to see a little seed had landed in it, with what appeared with the naked eye to be two white threads protruding out of one end. It soon struck me (literally) that it was Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) seed propelling itself from its seed pods. When the pods got to the requisite point of dryness they sprung open, launching the seeds skywards with some vigour.

When placed under a microscope at x20 magnification the seed looked like an armour-plated rather hairy terrestrial insect. It was apparent that these two white threads protruding from one end of the seed were multi-stranded, each being made up of many straight, fine and brilliant white, glossy fibres, which would perform well on any shampoo advert for their shine and lack of tangle. However I quickly realised that once these threads caught onto anything, such as my finger tip, they became anything but beautifully combed and tangled very effectively indeed, to get a good anchor onto whatever they have landed on from which they would hope to put down roots into the soil. Once the seeds are dried these protruding strands are not evident but it just goes to show there is so much more to a seed than a little dry hard thing that drops to the ground. Just image how beautifully and neatly it must organise itself inside the pod with its long fine fibres prior to launching skywards and it does not even have a basin or running water inside the seed pod to help it get ready!

One extra note…the Heathfield & District Agricultural Show was a scortcher last Saturday and very well attended considering the heat. I had my new wild flower plant plug collections on display which I will start sellling online next week. Like my seed mixtures they are my own unique collection of species, the very species I would wish to see and enjoy in a clay, chalk, woodland, lawn or wetland habitat. Ideal if you don’t want to start over with bare ground as you must do when creating wild flower areas using seed.