Friday, August 19, 2011

Collecting Seeds from the Milkweed Plant

This is the beautiful milkweed plant that brought all the monarchs to the yard. This year I decided to collect the seed. Maybe I will drop the seeds when I go for trail runs as they will have a better chance of growing there than blowing all over our suburban yards and getting mowed.

When the flowers die off they will be replaced by pods. The lighter one on the right is about to crack open. When that happens the little seeds which are attached to fluff will float away . It is nearly impossible to collect the seeds in that state so you should try to get them when they crack open but haven't gotten to the fluffy stage yet.
They are easy to collect when they look like this. Just run your finger down the side and they will come off the base easily. Slide them into a container. Ignore the white beans in the background.

They will initially be attached to the softest fluff you have ever felt and the goal is to separate the seed from the fluff. I put a few coins in the container and shook it gently. This seemed to work very well. You can easily remove the fluff which collects at the top. The fluff is actually water repellant silk and was once used to insulate moccasins. They were also used to stuff life jackets for the military.

The seeds will be left out to dry completely and then put into an envelope.

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