En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Propagation of Emory Oak acorns
May 08, 2005 - Dear Wildflower Experts, By any chance do you know how we could obtain some Emory Oak acorns to plant on our farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland? I know itís not a given that the trees would grow...
view the full question and answer

Can two species of Muhlenbergia be cross-pollinated from Portal AZ
July 17, 2012 - Will Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Big Muhly) cross-pollinate with Muhlenbergia porteri (Bush Muhly)? I am attempting to restore the grasslands on my private property to a pre-1900 state. Bush Muhly was a...
view the full question and answer

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

Altering the flowering time of Phacelia tanacetifolia
September 08, 2008 - I have been using Phacelia tanacetifolia as a forage plant in a 1 acre and 6 acre enclosure to mass rear the Blue Orchard Bee,(BOB), Osmia lignaria for use as a managed pollinator of almonds in Califo...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of woody plants by cuttings in Cairo, NY
May 12, 2009 - I have a tree in my yard and I am not sure what it is, it has these gorgeous pink cluster like flowers on it, my friend loves the tree and wants to know the steps to take a piece of my tree so she can...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center