Monday, September 12, 2011

time-lapse of campion, and exploding jewelweed

It’s time for one of my famed time-lapse sequences, this time of white campion (Lychnis alba).
Step 1: The Flower.
Hello, flower! And hello, little spider lurking in the middle there! (Hint: it’s green. You can see two legs.)
Step 2: Things fall off The petals fall off, leaving the stamens to wave around indolently. All the action is now happening in the bulging ovary.
Step 3: More things fall off
The stamens fall off, and the extraneous membrane (‘m sure there’s a botanically accurate name for it around here somewhere…) around the ovary begins to rot, dry up, and fall off as well.
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Ooooh, check that out. Yet another example of the brilliance of that flower that mimics Playtex tampon applicators.
Step 4: POP!  Seeds! Seeds! Seeds!
Thus unencumbered, the tip of the pod bursts open along the star-pattern on its end:
Shall we take a look inside?
Look at those amazing little seeds! I suspect that texture functions like velcro, because that one on the end is stuck there. That pod is CHOCK FULL of those little seeds. I tried like hell to get a good, in-focus shot, without much luck. Here are some outtakes:
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Speaking of POP, it is now time to reveal the joy that is jewelweed seeds, which explode when you touch them. Hence the other common name of “touch-me-not”. (Which is super-ironic, because apparently you can use jewelweed as a salve against poison ivy.)
The jewelweed around our house is like a pregnant woman four months along. You can tell she’s pregnant  - MAYBE - if you know her well, and know what you’re looking for. In other words, the flowers are fertilized, but progress is discreetly hidden deep within the flower.  Out in Whitingham, though – higher elevation, shorter growing season - the jewelweed is more like a six- to nine-month pregnant woman. I’m just gonna ride this analogy now that I’ve started it.
We’ll start with one that still has its petals on. Hm, I do believe this flower has been fertilized!
See how there’s some some green something-something happening behind the frilly bits?
Cut to the rest of the last trimester (I warned you, I was going to ride this analogy for all it was worth…) At some point, all the orange petal material falls away – I have yet to see that in part-way mode; I’ve only seen All On, versus All Fallen Off.
And here we go with the big bellied girls. Once the petals are dispensed with, additional seed development seems to occur, because I’ve seen these seed pods at varying levels of Fatness. (To be truly thorough, I’d follow a few specimens over a few days, but I had one day with these particular babies – I’ll have to keep an eye out on the ones closer to home.)
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Some are skinny… …and some are fat.
I tried and failed to film what happens when you touch a fat jewelweed pod. I can show you the results, though:
The seeds fly out, and the skin holding them in – the pod, I guess – is all post-explosion curly.

1 comment:

  1. Really stinkin' cool - and funny because I only just learned about jewelweed this year and it's use for preventing poison ivy. What a crazy ass plant!