Photo of the Week – January 17, 2013

Ok, I know milkweed seeds have been done to death by photographers.  I, personally, have somewhere around a zillion milkweed seed photos.  But milkweed seeds in the winter?  With hoar frost?  And a snowy background?  That’s just magic.  How can I not photograph that?

Frosty milkweed seeds and pods.  The Leadership Center Prairie.  Aurora, Nebraska.

Frosty milkweed seeds and pods. The Leadership Center Prairie. Aurora, Nebraska.

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These photos are all from the same morning as those in last week’s photo of the week post.  I’ve got even more from that morning saved up for future weeks…  It was that kind of morning.

Testing Assumptions – The Milkweed Seed Fiasco

A few months ago, I mentioned a technique that we use to clean milkweed seeds after harvest.  We spread the fluffy seeds out on a concrete floor and light the thin pile on fire, burning the fluff off the seeds.  It’s quick, easy, and fun.  I learned of the technique from a fellow prairie restoration ecologist many years ago, and we’ve been using it ever since.  I’ve also shared the idea with quite a few others.

Burning the fluff off of milkweed seeds. Don't try this at home.

Those of you who have either read this blog frequently or know me personally know that I am a strong advocate for experimenting with techniques whenever possible.  In fact, I often reduce people to blank stares by blathering on about the importance of always testing restoration and other methods to be sure we’re using the most effective strategies.  Surely, then, over the last decade or so that I’ve been using and advocating the “burn the fluff off” technique, I’ve followed my own advice and checked to make sure it actually works, right?   Well…

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