Tom's Blog

Saturday, August 27, 2011

White prairie clover seed collecting

In my July 23, 2011 post I discussed the success we are now having getting purple and white prairie clovers (Dalea purpurea and D. candida) established. White prairie clover is now ready for seed collecting, and last Thursday Kathie and I collected quite a bit of seed in Toby's Prairie. This planted prairie, now in its 13th growing season, has lots of nice prairie clover plants. The good plants were easy to find because when we planted this prairie in November 1998 Kathie set aside several areas as "forbs plots". Here an enriched seed mix with a number of desirable forbs was planted. Since there is a wooden stake in the middle of this forbs plot, the site is easy to find. (Interesting that this wooden stake has survived 13 hot prescribed burns!)

When the seeds are ready, white prairie clover is fairly easy to collect. One simply grabs three or four stems and strips the seeds directly into a bucket. Even though these plants are short and buried among (at this time of year) tall Indian grass, they are easy to find because of the large cluster of stems.

Purple prairie clover can be collected in the same way, although this species has smaller flower and seed heads, so the yield is lots less.

The fruit is a thin-walled pod which contains a single (or rarely two) seeds. Each seed is kidney shaped. The spiral pattern of the pods can be seen in the photo.

Kathie and I spent about an hour collecting this species and then pooled our harvest. We got a lot of seed!


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