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

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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

 


 

 

 

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