Monday, August 5, 2013

Cones and pods and such...

One of the best parts of gardening is observing the strange things plants do. My most recent discovery involves my Magnolia laevifolia, after the flowers faded these started to develop all over the plant…

Okay not really everywhere, just where there had been flowers. Some are double, others are single…

There are lots of pairs.

And there's a good sized cluster.

I did some investigating and couldn’t find any images, or mention, of these online. Of course what you typically see develop on a magnolia is cone shape with brightly colored seeds. Here’s what the ones on my Magnolia macrophyllia look like right now.

Click here for a great image after the cone has dried and the orange seeds are visible. Finally I learned this isn’t a cone after all: “The fruit of the magnolia looks like a cone. Is it actually a cone or what is it? Although it may look like a cone, it is actually an aggregate fruit that is woody. This flowering structure has changed little over millions of years. Magnolias are some of the most primitive of all flowering plants, but the seeds are enclosed in the fruit during their development, and therefore they must be classified as angiosperms, not as gymnosperms-the group to which conifers belong. As the fruit matures, scale-like areas on it split apart and the seeds, covered in a red fleshy aril, are exposed as they are in gymnosperms.” (source)

Since we're looking at interesting pods and cones lets take a peek at a couple of others. The Alstroemeria isabellana is crazy with Martian eyes! The hummingbirds love the flowers on this plant, is it normal to have one, or two, buzz a plant like every fifteen minutes?

I am thrilled that my (less than a year old) Amsonia hubrichtii is producing these cool bean-like seed pods.

My friend Bridget gave me this Cardiospermum halicacabum (Heart seed/Balloon vine), I've got it growing up a dead Musa basjoo stalk and I'm so excited to see those green puffs (and eventually the heart seeds).

It's an excellent year for the Hesperaloe parviflora, I think there are 9 seed pods on 3 plants.

Even the Manfreda undulata 'Chocolate Chips' has gotten in on the action. Looks like four make that three (the little one fell off after I took this picture) pollinated flowers!

So back to my Magnolia laevifolia, naturally I cut one of the little berries open and discovered the outside is just a thin coating, like an M&M (a little thicker) and then inside is a pea sized green seed. I’m pretty excited to watch how they mature. Will the outside turn darker? Will they eventually crack open or fall to the ground before they open? I’ll be watching. This stuff is better than TV…

All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

27 comments:

  1. Those Martian eyes are the coolest. Thanks for the biology lesson. :)

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    1. The way they seem to follow my every move around the garden is super creepy.

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  2. One more reason to love Magnolia laevifolia! Does Clifford hold on to his fruits until they're brown with seeds exposed? My M. macrophylla pods usually drop before they reach that stage; maybe they're not pollinated? Does this mean that you're a pod person or just that you have a poddy mouth?

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    1. Most of the M. macrophylla pods drop before that point but a few make it to the cool brown and orange stage and fall to the ground about the same time the leaves do. Of course they are too cool to just leave so I usually being them inside for a few days.

      I definitely have a poddy mouth...

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  3. Exciting about the chocolate chips, what else do you have in flower that it could have crossed with? not sure they are self fertile.

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    1. I was wondering about that! There is a Hesperaloe nearby, as well as the Musella lasiocarpa bloom.

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  4. Maybe this is an abnormality - I would send the pics to a botanic garden or the RHS equivalent for their view.

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    1. Turns out maybe it's not that unusual, see tvojt's comment below...

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  5. Cool seed pods, especially the Manfreda pods. There are four BIG NOID magnolias in my neighbor's parking strip that have crazy-weird seed pods in late summer. Maybe it's a trait of Magnolias?

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    1. I guess I'm going to have to pay closer attention to the magnolias around town...

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  6. I love watching seedpods develop on some plants. You're right, it is better than TV.

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    1. Plus it makes the neighbors wonder what the heck you're up to.

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  7. Does this mean that you will be easing into the germination game? I can see how one could be lured into it by these fascinating phenomina.

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    1. This spring I attempted to grow 3 different kinds of seeds collected in my garden. I had success with 2 of them germinating but one batch (Echium russicum) was wiped out by the heat and lack of water while I was on jury duty. The remaining (Euphorbia lathyris) powered on and I am excited there are 5 healthy plants in my garden right now. Of course this plant is practically a weed so to not have success would make me pretty pathetic. All this is to say I think I'll try again...

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  8. I love those little green balloons, Loree. I'm glad your enjoying them.
    And that Manfreda, simply gorgeous!
    Bridget

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    1. I think I'm addicted and might have to make that plant an annual tradition!

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  9. Look at your Amsonia go! Do beware...you'll find seedlings if you let them drop ;-)

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    1. Good to know...and very tempting...

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  10. Plants are fascinating. Seed pods are as exciting as flowers...or even more! great post!

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    1. I'm certainly enjoying them as much as I've enjoyed the flowers.

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  11. Spoiler alert. Forest farm has a picture of the mature Michelia/Magnolia seedpod.

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    1. This: http://www.forestfarm.com/product.php?id=5482 is the closest I could find. Is that what you're referring to or is there another? Thanks for the tip!

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    2. That's the one. Of course I was zipping around so fast that I didn't notice it was a different species. But the form looks very similar. Enjoy the unveiling of those M&Ms as the season progresses! cheers and happy gardening.

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  12. The appreciation of seedpods and even fading pre-seed flowers is a great season extender.I think your Alstromeria i. is my favorite of the bunch !

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    1. I wonder if you'd have any success with seeds of that one in your neck of the woods?

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  13. Cool! I have yet to see seed pods forming on our Magnolia laevifolia. Those seed pods look just as ornamental as their flowers.

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    1. I noticed yesterday they were starting to darken up a bit, making them even more ornamental!

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