Willowherb seed pod

I found the seed pod of this plant in the same meadow where I found the globular coneflower recently:

The plant (an Epilobium spp, maybe Epilobium ciliatum) has slender seed pods that split and curl back in several sections, showing lines of seeds. This pod had just started to open, others had split and curled already. I had no idea what I was looking at, so I posted at the Native Plant Trust (the parent for Garden in the Woods), and a botanist wrote back with the willowherb identification, a plant in the evening primrose family. The curled back pod segments remind me of the evening primrose Oenothera biennis, a cousin of this plant. Now I’ll have to look out for the flower next year.

7 thoughts on “Willowherb seed pod

  1. Given your love of milkweeds, it makes sense that this would appeal to you, and you’ve certainly elevated it with your photo. The way the seeds are arranged in the pod remind me of a plant I once grew: Cape honeysuckle. It’s a South African plant (that’s the ‘Cape’), and it was wonderful fun to watch the pods open. They also curled back, and the seeds would just lie there until fully dried and ready for the wind to carry them away.

    • I went back to the meadow today, and found a few willow herb plants. A week later, all the pods have opened, and the seeds all dispersed. The crossing curves of the empty pods were appealing, but I worked with aster and little bluestem seeds instead. The lines of seeds in willow herb are more interesting, though.

    • Yesterday I photographed little bluestem, it reminded me how different it is. Each seed has a awn (spike) for one thing. I loved the rows of seeds in this pod. As the pod opens, it explodes and scatters the seeds.

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