It's up for debate

Week 5 Under the Greenhouse: Story in a Nutshell

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This gorgeous little blue ball poking out of the soil is a genuine seed. NOT a tiny bouncy ball to buoy the plant in the soggy medium, though I love the fantastical idea. The seed is that of one of the hardiest, most beautiful, and most botanically interesting plants, the canna lily.

When I put some pressure on the seed between my fingers to test its

Rough, bumpy-skinned seeds of Prickly Ash

Rough, bumpy-skinned seeds of Prickly Ash

strength, I remembered a short story I had read in National Geographic about the true account of a rattle found by archaeologists in a tomb in Argentina. The rattle was made from a walnut, and inside the walnut was a still-viable 600-year-old canna seed.

And while the canna itself is fascinating, seeds across the board are absolutely amazing, being unique in size, shape, viability/longevity, color, and chemistry. Take, for instance, the peppery, mouth-numbing Prickly Ash seed, or the pleasing circular-disc shaped seeds of Malva sylvestris. There are the miniscule seeds of pansies and the larger seeds of Impatiens capensis (jewelweed), both of which fling their seeds by a stupendous mechanism far from the mother plant.

For those interested in reading more about seeds and their astounding capabilities and backstories, I highly recommend “The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History” by Thor Hanson.

This short story, though, still has a cliffhanger, which hopefully will be answered by a reader or someone in the greenhouse: Why are the canna lily seeds blue?

Impatiens capensis flower with seed dangling above, in Crum Woods

Impatiens capensis flower with seed dangling above, in Crum Woods



Written by Robin Lee Dunlap

February 9, 2017 at 6:41 pm

Posted in Botanical, History

Tagged with , , ,

One Response

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  1. […] into the the larger tray holes. One of my favorite and easiest to transfer is Canna, a plant that vexed me and my massive Facebook fanbase – my mother and a very correct former (and excellent) high school teacher of […]

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