Archives For seed

Have you seen the sunflowers in the Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden this month? Let’s take a closer look to see what’s going on.

PHOTO: Sunflower nodding down toward the ground.

Many of the blossoms have lost their yellow petals and are bending down.
We need to take a closer look.

PHOTO: Very close up picture of a sunflower.

Just a little closer …

PHOTO: Extreeme close up of the middle of a sunflower, showing the tiny florets and sunflower seeds.

There!

Now you can see that one sunflower is actually made of hundreds of very small flowers. Notice the tiny, yellow, pointed petals of the individual flowers. Each blossom produces one seed. You can see the seeds where they have matured at the top edge of this sunflower. Can you find the spot where one seed is missing? Perhaps it fell out or was eaten by bird.

Sunflowers are what we call “composite” flowers, so named because they are composed of many florets growing so close together they appear to be one flower. If you look carefully at the arrangement of the flowers and seeds, you might notice a spiral pattern.

Other composite flowers you may know are daisies, dandelions, and mums. There are many composite flowers blooming at the Chicago Botanic Garden right now. Come for a visit to check it out, and bring your favorite magnifier so you can take a closer look at the real thing.

Visit chicagobotanic.org/learningcampus/growinggarden for more information on the Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden.

Though it’s still winter outside, Tim Pollak, Outdoor Floriculturist, and his team in the Production Greenhouses are getting ready for spring on the inside. Tim takes us on a tour of the Production Greenhouses to show us what they are growing for spring this year. All year round, his staff and volunteers work to grow many of the annuals that are later planted in the display gardens at the Chicago Botanic Garden. See what it takes to grow all of those plants!

This fall a group of local first graders toured the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center. Associate scientist, Pati Vitt, gave them a tour of the seed bank and answered their questions about plant science.

Emily Yates, seed bank coordinator, talks about the work she does to save native prairie seeds for the future. We took a tour of the lab and learned that the vital seed bank currently shares lab space with many other conservation projects. Then we saw the new seed bank lab still under construction in the Plant Science Center, which opens to the public on September 23, 2009. The seed bank is just one of eight labs in the Plant Science Center. We will see them all in this video blog series, as well as hear about the building’s sustainable features.