En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Harvesting seeds on the American basket flower (Centaurea americana)

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - May 30, 2010

From: Wimberley, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Harvesting seeds on the American basket flower (Centaurea americana)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Where are the seeds on an American basket flower? How do I get them out to propagate them? When can you get them out? Thank you.

ANSWER:

The second, third and fourth photos below show mature flower/seed heads of Centaurea americana (American basket-flower).  The last photo is of the seeds themselves.  The seeds are at the base of the 'fluffy' area that covers the flower head.  American basket flower is a member of the Family Asteraceae (Aster Family).  This family typically has a flower head with two types of flowers on it—disc flowers and ray flowers.  The tiny disc flowers are in the center and the ray flowers form long petals surrounding the disc flowers in the center.  An example of a flower in this family with both types of flowers would be  Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan) with its tiny dark brown disc flowers in the center surrounded by yellow ray flowers.  Some Asteraceae, however, have only ray flowers (e.g., dandelions) and some have only disc flowers.  American basket flowers happen to have only disc flowers.  The pink parts of the flowers are the elongated corollas of the many disc flowers on the flower head.  The seed develops in the ovary at the base of each disc flower.  Each of the pink corollas is attached to the developing seed.  As the seed matures, it dries and is finally released from the disc that underlies it to be blown by the wind and deposited somewhere that it will hopefully germinate and grow into a new basket flower plant.  In the second, third and fourth photos below, you can see mature seed heads of the basket flower.  When the seeds can be easily pulled from the disc of the mature seed head by pulling gently on the fluff attached to the seed, they are ready to be harvested.


Centaurea americana

Centaurea americana

Centaurea americana

Centaurea americana

Centaurea americana

 


 

 

 

More Propagation Questions

Seeding success with Penstemon cobaea from Austin
June 18, 2013 - I've never had much luck in harvesting seeds from foxgloves (Penstemon cobaea, I think). Whenever I open the seed casing, the seeds inside are covered with some kind of mold. What's going on, and ho...
view the full question and answer

Rooting hybrid Savannah Holly from cuttings from Gainesville FL
March 04, 2011 - I need instructions on rooting the Savannah Holly from cuttings. I understand that seedlings will not be true to the parent..is this true? Please help. What type of soil mix should I use?
view the full question and answer

Controlling size of red yucca in Austin
March 13, 2009 - I have planted red yucca in my backyard, which produces many flowering stalks for the past few years. These red yucca are becoming too large for the area that are planted in. What recommendations do...
view the full question and answer

Eupatorium serotinum (late boneset) for garden setting, care and propagation
October 27, 2007 - What are the prospects for Eupatorium serotinum in a garden setting? What requirements does the plant have? How large does it grow, etc.
view the full question and answer

Transplanting Spiderwort in Austin
March 14, 2011 - I have a big patch of spiderwort that has popped up in the middle of my front lawn. Will it survive being dug up and moved to the garden?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center