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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Tuesday - May 03, 2005

From: Alexandria, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Seeds of mayflower
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Although I now live in Virginia, I grew up in eastern South Dakota. Several years ago while visiting SD I was walking in the pasture and noticed that many of the wild mayflowers (pasqueflowers) had gone to seed. In all the years I spent in SD I had never noticed them gone to seed. Many times while living in SD, I tried to transplant the entire plant from the pasture to a garden near our house but they never survived. So, that day, I collected a ziplock bag full of the seeds hoping that was the answer to getting them to grow for me. I have been carrying the seeds around for several years and have tried various places and methods of planting but they just won't grow. The seeds are now very dry and dead looking. The different times I've planted the seeds they've never ever sprouted. What am I doing wrong? Are the seeds dead? If not what is the best method to get them to grow? I sincerely appreciate any help you can provide and I'd truly like to figure out how to get these seeds to grow if that is at all possible. I collected these seeds off the hill where my father's ashes are scattered. He and my mother used to have an annual contest on who could find the earliest mayflower. My father always won and would proudly bring his mayflower in the house and present it to my mother. It's a wonderful memory for me. I'm sure you can imagine how great it would be if I could get these seeds to grow.

ANSWER:

Probably your seeds of the pasqueflower (Pulsatilla patens) are dead after storing in the plastic bag for several years. However, you can try something called a "rag-doll" germination test to determine whether or not they are dead. If you are able to get the seeds to germinate, you may not have success in getting them to grow in the heat and humidity of Virginia unless you live high in the Smoky Mountains. Perhaps you could honor your parents by planting pasqueflower seeds on the hill where your father's ashes are scattered the next time you visit South Dakota. If your seeds are dead, you can find others at several companies that specialize in native seeds in the Midwest. Prairie Restorations, Inc. in Princeton, Minnesota sells seeds under an older scientific hame, Pulsatilla nuttalliana. Prairie Frontier in Waukesha, Wisconsin and Prairie Moon Nursery in Winona Minnesota sell seeds under another old scientific name, Anemone patens. You can find more seed companies and nurseries specializing in native plants in the National Suppliers Directory by searching for "Seed Companies" or "Nurseries" in the Midwest.
 

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