Momentary Vitality

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3. Dispersal

Backlane Botanical Gardens: Seed dispersion in the sunflower (Asteraceae) buttercup (Ranunculaceae) families
I have scanned thousands of specimens from botanical gardens, garden centres, unique habitats, and the exotic collections of university greenhouses. They all do their "dance" in wonderful ways, whether they continue to bloom or simply shrivel in one of a myriad of processes. Some of the most interesting specimens I've been able to scan have been ones from the sunflower (Asteraceae) and buttercup (Ranunculaceae) families in the period right before they go to seed. If you've seen seeds from a dandelion seed head about to fly away, you know what I mean. What's particularly interesting about this group is that many of them are fairly weedy and love to grow in urban environments. This has the effect for me of making a backlane into a botanical garden.

• Select a flower to watch it perform.
• Select the magnifying glass to view photos.

Conyza canadensis

Creeping Thistle
Cirsium arvense


Solidago sp.

Western Salsify
Tragopogon dubius

Wild Lettuce
Lactuca canadensis

Canada Goldenrod
Solidago canadensis

Yellow Clematis
Clematis tangutica

Seed dispersion Western Salsify (partially opened) Western Salsify (partially opened)


Solidago sp.

Clematis sp.

Western Salsify (partially opened)
Tragopogon dubius

Joe-Pye Weed
Eutrochium purpureum


Achene: a dry, one-seeded fruit that does not open to release the seed

Bract: modified leaf or scale, typically small, with a flower or flower cluster in its axil.

Inflorescence: An inflorescence is a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem that is composed of a main branch or a complicated arrangement of branches.

Involucre: a whorl or rosette of bracts surrounding an inflorescence

Pappus: the tuft of hairs on each seed of thistles, dandelions, and similar plants, which assists dispersal by the wind.

New England Aster
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae