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Dr M’s mini-quiz answer #4: and the eXtreme botanical hitchhikers were…

For the love of seeds how did you do?!

Well, there were three obvious families clinging to Dr M’s eXtreme botany boots, and one less obvious and no doubt others lurking in nooks, crannies and crevices as they do!

So, the three obvious families were:

Rubiaceae: Galium aparine (Cleavers) (Ga), nice and easy, big spherical seeds with hooks, a classic hitch-hiker seed that gets everywhere by sticking firmly to anything even remotely hairy like socks and most other clothing and animal fur!

Asteraceae: the family obvious from the pappus hairs, but the genus and especially the species much less obvious (there were plenty of pappuses but only one ripe achene that Dr M could see so don’t fret if you couldn’t get it to genus!) but it was Picris hieracioides (Hawkweed Oxtongue) (Ph).

Poaceae: the spikelets give it away pretty easily but there were at least three species:

Festuca rubra (Red Fescue) (Fr) with pointy spikelets with an awn (check out tribe Poaeae in Dr M’s series “the tribes of grasses” here).

Bromus hordeaceus (Soft Brome) (Bh) with more rounded spikelets, downy lemma with an awn (check out tribe Bromeae in Dr M’s series “the tribes of grasses” here).

Holcus lanatus (Yorkshire-fog) (Hl) with rounded spikelets and downy lemma. Holcus does have awns but these are hooked and tucked away (check out tribe Aveneae in Dr M’s series “the tribes of grasses” here).

And then there was a shed-load of a small, brown, winged seed this is  Betulaceae and Betula pendula (Silver Birch) (Bp). There are also scales which  look a bit like Prince of Wales feathers, next time you pass a birch grab her catkin and have a look, meanwhile an image from the Arkive website is here. You’ll find oodles of this one on the car windows in birch season. In plant life history terms, Betula is a classic many small seed strategist putting its reproductive energies into producing zillions of small, winged seeds – wings = wind dispersed – so doesn’t really need Dr M’s boots for dispersal!

The less obvious family was Fabaceae as Dr M could only see one seed pod on the whole boot and it was Melilotus albus (White Melilot) (Ma).

More pics of these seeds here:

Dr M really is wild about seeds and there will be more seed related posts coming here soon!


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