Or, Spot the Seed. Echinacea seed, to be precise. I’ve been busy collecting seeds in the garden, as one does at this time of year. I’ve had some seed heads drying in the shed for a week or two so last weekend I gave them the shake n sieve treatment outlined here. For the Echinacea seeds, I ended up with this.

How to identify Echinacea seeds

Fantastic, thought I, oodles of seeds. But then doubts started to creep in. I don’t remember seeing seeds like these before. Are the seeds the long straw coloured parts, the little black pieces, does it matter if they’re separated? I shrugged my shoulders and stuck them in an envelope anyway.

Later though, those nagging doubts began to get louder. Are they really seeds, or just detritus masquerading as seeds? I was keen to find out, not least because I plan to send some to the Hardy Plant Society seed exchange. Imagine the shame if I sent in chaff!

Fortunately help is at hand in the twittersphere. My thanks to @NesbittF and @suebeesley who both piped up with helpful pointers.

After some careful zooming-in, we settled on these fellas as the seeds.

What do Echinacea seeds look like

In the yellow circles are the two seeds (two!) I could find in all that clutter. I tipped the lot out and sorted through by hand, thinking that now I know what I’m looking for, maybe I will find some more. Er, no. Here they are, sorted into chaff on the right and seeds on the left. Yup, just three. 

What does Echinacea seed look like

The bigger question is why aren’t there more? I perhaps need to refine my seed retrieval system. Or as @suebeesley feared, it may be that these particular flowers are sterile hybrids and don’t produce viable seed. I have some more flower heads so will have another crack.

I’ll be back soon with more propagation messing.
PS, note to legal dept at Where’s Wally publishers. Please don’t sue me, I have used the name and picture without permission.  I do have many of your infuriating books in the house, so feel sure dues are paid.

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