Robin-Lee

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

 

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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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