07 August, 2009

Dandelion and Poppy

Today I have 2 series of photos that I took during July. One is of the seedhead of a dandelion and the other of poppies. The dandelion flower is not at all remarkable; I didn't even bother to photograph it. But the seedheads of this particular dandelion species are beautiful. Below you can see how the distal ends of each individual seed (called an achene, I looked it up) are gathered at the top end and held in place by part of the dried up flower. The ends escape one by one and the parachutes of each seed are free to open up.

A lovely, long, and slender (and cooperative), bug was taking it easy on this seedhead.

Ordinarily, the parachutes open up, flatten out into a disk, and push each other apart, so that ultimately a parachute ball is formed. I think this happens either as the day warms or as the dew dries because on the cool, wet, day I was taking these photos, no spherical parachute ball was in sight. The picture below is as close to a ball is it got that day.

If you click on these pictures, you can see how the parachute spines refract the sunlight into rainbow colors.

The parachute structure is incredibly delicate.

These red poppies are almost surreal in their saturated color. A little hoverfly was visiting this newly opened poppy.

The stamens and anthers form a ring around the stigmatic disc that is a defining characteristic of poppy flowers.

The stigmatic disc looks like the lid to a jewel box. If you click to enlarge this photo, you can see pollen grains that have landed on the stigma.

The stigmatic disc remains on the seed capsule as it matures.

I'll leave you with this photo of a poppy flower and seed capsule that to me epitomizes a midsummer garden afternoon. Although I'm not too sure that the little fly under the seed capsule is still enjoying the afternoon so much. ;-)


  1. Hi Wilma,
    Thanks for visiting Wings Among Us.
    You have some stunning collection of photographs in your blog.
    Best regards

  2. Hi Madibirder,

    I found your site by way of WA Zoologist. Your bird photos make me green with envy. They are all spectacular, but I am especially fond of the woodpeckers and kingfishers.


  3. Two superb series of photos, Wilma.

  4. My gosh, your photos are stunning, Wilma!


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