Stipa spartea seed picture

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Below is one of the scans of Stipa seeds collected from Douglas County. This particular set of seeds was collected from a plant at Staffenson Prairie Preserve. The seeds themselves are pointed towards the left side of the image, and extending from them are the long awns that give Stipa it's common name (porcupine grass). At this stage, they look less like quills, though, because they have dried and started to coil (click on the picture to see it full resolution and you can actually observe the coils and lots of other neat features of the seed, like hair and a dagger tip!). Out in nature, the coiling action would allow the seeds to attach to a disperser or to drill themselves into the ground in preparation for overwintering and germinating the next spring. We'll be scanning all of the seeds we collected (an estimated 3,000+ seeds from 431 plants), making digital measurements of seed length and width, and planting around 2,500 of them interspersed with Echinacea in the common garden.

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