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Answer to the Friday Whatsit for August 6, 2010

August 9, 2010

What is it?

Answer time!  This is a close-up view of the seed pod of a daylily (Hemerocallis sp., Stella D’Oro cultivar).  Congratulations to both April, who correctly guessed that bulbous thing that is left behind when the flower fades, and Linda, who came very close to the correct answer with her guess of seed.  Nice job ladies!

Seed pod sliced to show seeds

The seed pod is indeed what is left behind when the daylily flower fades.  It is the ripened ovary (yes, the female reproductive organ) of the plant.  Each ripened ovary contains several shiny black seeds, which are the fertilized ovules.  Each seed contains a plant embryo as well as enough food for the growing embryo to turn into a seedling.  Removing these seed pods can frustrate the plant’s reproductive effort and get it to bloom again.

Image of a different plant showing both flowers and seed pods

These seed pods are the daylily version of rose hips, the fertilized ovaries of roses.  While they are not edible, daylily seed pods are also the equivalent of many fruits (think apples, cherries, watermelon and even tomatoes).  The tasty flesh of the ripened ovary is an evolutionary development designed to entice animals like birds, bats and monkeys to eat the fruit and carry the seeds in their guts before depositing them (along with some helpful fertilizer) in a location away from the parent plant.

All images in this post by the author.  Special thanks to the American Hemerocallis Society for providing links to more dissected plant images.

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