Fluffy seeds have lots of hairs surrounding them. These hairs are of little assistance in distribution but do play other important roles. The hairs are hydroscopic and as the humidity rises they absorb moisture twisting as they do so to firmly lock the seeds onto the soil surface. There also seems to be a natural glue released, for they also stick very firmly onto smooth surfaces. When it rains the hairs absorb a large quantity of water that helps to keep the keep the seed moist while it germinates.
Fluffy seeds include Rhodanthe chlorocephala Dry(L) and Wet(R)
Seeds with tails are more easily carried by the wind thus helping distribution. Some seeds are very light and may be carried a considerable distance. On the surface the tail assists with movement to a low, and hopefully damp spot. Eventually the tail will break off leaving the seed in its new location.
Seeds with tails include Bellida graminae and Podolepis kendallii
Very fine seeds often, but not always, have tails. Some are dispersed by being thrown from the flower head on a windy day, others are carried by surface water and yet others are retained in the old flower head which then becomes the vehicle for distribution.
Very fine seeds include Waitzia nitida and Podolepis rugata
Cephalipterum drummondii is different in that it produces capsules instead of individual seeds. Each capsules consists of a few seeds inside a mass of fine hair. Capsules are ejected when mature but only a few centimetres from the plant where they may blow around a little further. The hairs are hygroscopic so also act to lock the capsule onto the soil surface as well as holding moisture around the germinating seeds. We try to handle these seeds as little as possible because of their tendency to knit together into one big lump that then has to be pulled apart with tweezers.
A few plants produce seeds that are smooth and disc shaped. Trachymene coerulea is one and so too do members of the Hyalosperma genus. In some cases the seeds do have tails when in the flower but break off before distribution. The seeds are normally flicked out a short distance by wind gusts.
We can find no reference to seeds being dispersed by animals but speculate that the seeds of Podotheca gnaphaloides might be because we know all too well that the tips are sharp enough to stick into human skin and the long tails have very fine barbs on them that makes them feel sticky.
Daisy is derived from day's eye a reference to a flower that opens in the day but closes at night. It's a common feature of many of our daisies that some creatures take advantage of, but more of that in a future blog.
Everlasting is used for flowers that retain their shape and some of their colour when cut and dried. Again more on that in a future blog. Immortelle is French for the same features but much more elegant.
Ephemeral simply means not permanent. In the plant world it is a reference to life span and is normally applied to those plants that avoid harsh summers or droughts by going to seed.
When it comes to individual plants we use scientific (botanic) names because they are precise, though a little hard to pronounce and spell at times. Scientific names often have a history behind them and sometimes are of assistance in identification. We also include synonyms, old scientific names, that were once applied to the species. These can be useful in looking up references and keeping track of name changes.
Most of our plants belong to the plant family ASTERACEAE, previously known as COMPOSITAE (some botanists still call it that).
A plant's scientific name consists of the genus and species and sometimes subspecies (ssp). We follow the normal convention by using italics and only beginning the genus with a capital letter. Varietal names are in normal font.
Here is a guide to names in our catalogue:
Angianthus refers to the cup shaped ring of pappus scales on the seed. tomentosus -woolly.
Bellida a reference to its resemblance to another group of plants, graminae - grass-like.
Cephalipterum a reference to the conspicuous bracts/petals, drummondii - after James Drummond an early WA plant collector.
Erymophyllum a reference to leafy bracts that surround the flower head, ramosum - much branched.
Gnephosis unknown derivation, arachnoidea - like a spider's web
Helipterum literally sun-feather, craspedioides - like a Craspedia (another genus in Asteraceae).
Lawrencella after Robert Lawrence, an early Tasmanian plant collector, rosea - rosy.
Myriocephalus countless or numberless heads, guerinae - unknown.
Podolepis a reference to the stalked involucre bracts, kendallii - after Francis Kendall who collected as he travelled working on the P & O Line. lessonii - after Rene Lesson, Chief Pharmacist with the French Navy.
Podotheca a reference to stalked seeds, gnaphaloides - like Gnaphalium (another genus in Asteraceae).
Rhodanthe literally rose flower a reference to the flower colour of some of the genus, charsleyae - after botanical artist Fanny Anne Charsley, chlorocephala - green head a reference to the green outer bracts on the flower head, manglesii - after James Mangles a captain in the Royal Navy, rubella - reddish, spicata - flower spike, stricta - straight or erect.
Schoenia after Johannes Schoen, early 19th century Hamburg eye specialist, cassinianum - after Alexandre Cassini, French botanist, filifolium - thread leaved.
Trachymene rough skin, coerulea - deep sky blue.
Waitzia after Karl Waitz privy-councillor to the duchy of Saxe-Altenberg, Germany. nitida - shiny or bright.
As to common names, well they are just that - common but at the same time variable depending upon location and who you ask. So feel free to give your plants any common name you like. Incidentally you will see that many plants in our range do not have a widely accepted common name. Feel free to make suggestions through our Contact page.