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April 2021 EcoQuest: Plants the Pop!

April ecoQuest with Pop

© canstockphoto_liveslow

In a nod to the “Roy Lichtenstein: Monet’s Garden Goes Pop!” exhibit at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Downtown Sarasota campus, April’s EcoQuest Challenge is Plants that Pop!  We are focusing on plants that spread their seeds through ballistichory. This is the sudden rapid ejection of seed from a fruit by explosive dehiscence. Dehiscence is the process whereby a fruit naturally opens at maturity to disperse its seeds. This may happen slowly, taking hours or days, or may happen in the blink of an eye. The explosive or ballistic “shooting” out of seed gives this mechanism its name. The result of ballistichory is that seeds are flung far from the parent plant, greatly improving seed dispersal.. This month, we are featuring this amazing mechanism in Plants that Pop! Be sure to join this project on iNaturalist!

Florida’s native partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata), shown below, is an easily recognizable plant that uses explosive dehiscence for seed dispersal.

 

Below are some examples of species you can find in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

 Abelmoschus esculentus (okra)

Chamaecrista fasciculata (partridge pea)

Cnidoscolus stimuosus (tread softly)

Crotalaria rotundifolia (rabbitbells)

Croton punctatus  (beach tea)

Galactia elliottii (Elliott’s milkpea)

Galactia regularis (Eastern milkpea)

Oxalis spp. (sorrel)

Tephrosia chrysophylla (scurf hoarypea)

Ricinus communis (castor oil plant)

Ruellia simplex (Mexican petunia)

Impatiens “touch-me-not”

 

NOTE:
While all ferns utilize explosive dehiscence, it can only be seen through a microscope under proper conditions, so we are not including ferns in this Challenge. We will revisit ferns in another EcoQuest soon, so stay tuned! 

Chamaecrista fasciculata

Chamaecrista fasciculata, Photo by Sean Patton

WHAT IS AN ECOQUEST?

EcoQuests, part of the Sarasota-Manatee EcoFlora Project, challenge Floridians to become engaged citizens in the observation, study, appreciation, and conservation of the native flora and fauna of Florida, and understand the impacts to it by exotic species.

HOW DO I GET STARTED?

  1. Download the easy-to-use iNaturalist app on your mobile device, or visit  iNaturalist.org on your computer.
  2. Set up a user account or sign in to join projects and submit observations.
  3. Visit the Sarasota-Manatee EcoFlora project, Plants that Pop and click “join” on the upper right.
  4. Photograph plants anywhere in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. Take multiple photos to show important features for identification (overall plant, leaves, flowers, fruit, stem).
  5. Post your observations to iNaturalist.
  6. Check out your ranking on this month’s challenge online!

WHAT IS THE GOAL?

Help us document the many species of plants that spread their seeds through ballistichory.

Learn about the Sarasota-Manatee EcoFlora Project HERE

Join the project on iNaturalist HERE!

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