Photo of the Week – November 3, 2016

To this prairie photographer, milkweed seeds are like candy – I just can’t get enough.  As I’ve walked around this fall, I’ve had a very difficult time walking past any milkweed plant without stopping to photograph the silky seeds shimmering in the light.  They’re just so FLUFFY!

(And yes, botanist friends, I know the fluffy part isn’t actually the seed, but is an ‘appendage’ called the coma – or less accurately, the pappus – that aids in wind transport of the seed.  And the brown parts are actually the follicles that CONTAIN the seed.  Yes, yes, and yes. Allow me this vulgarization for the sake of simplicity, ok?)

FLUFFY!!

Whorled milkweed

Common milkweed

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enpo161028_d021

enpo161021_d009

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It’s getting a little harder to find milkweed seeds that haven’t yet blown away, but they’re out there.  I keep seeing them as I walk through prairie and drive down the highway.  I can hide the Halloween candy so I don’t snack on it all day, but who’s going to hide all those milkweed seeds?

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
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6 Responses to Photo of the Week – November 3, 2016

  1. Teresa Lombard says:

    Yes! Such a delicious snack to the eyes. And don’t you love the texture and color of the coma (learned something new – thank you!)? I’m sure if they were big enough to bite into, they’d have the same lovely crunch as a potato chip. Now, I am all for milkweed seed and silk – but how about Brickellia?! They have lovely little puffs of white fluffballs all over the tops of the plants this time of year. I always feel like they are tugging at my mind for a reference I can’t quite nail down. Cotton balls? No. Cotton candy? No. Cottontail tails? No. Not sure what they remind me of, but I get a warm fuzzy feeling every time I see them. Thank you once again for the inspiration, Chris.

  2. marknupen says:

    You too!!!!

    they are beautiful

  3. Pat says:

    It’s nice there are some things you never outgrow! Fluffy, silky milkweed seeds are the best. :)

  4. Lori Phalen says:

    Love milkweed fluffiness! You are so right, the way the sparkle in the sun, you are just drawn to them to take a closer look. Thanks for posting these images, especially love the last one. Beautiful!

  5. Seeing the amazing diversity in seed “design” never gets old! Thanks for sharing.

  6. I too want to photograph all of them! Love these. Fluffy lives!

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