Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Perky Seedling

18 mm wide
photo taken Nov 13th

This is a perky seedling showing two cotyledon leaves with a few wide red lobes, and the first true leaves with pinnate (feather-like) leaflets. When seedlings get several sets of leaves, it's easier to identify them because the first true leaves are often miniature versions of the leaves on the mature plant that we most readily recognize.

photo taken Oct 18

Here is another version of that same plant in seedling stage. This photo was taken 5 days after the first big seasonal rain and the ground was covered with hundreds of these little jobbies. At first, I wasn't sure what these plants were because I didn't recognize the cotyledon shape. In a few days, the next set of leaves appeared and as they unfurled, they revealed a distinct and familiar pattern to the true leaves. Now I can match the two different kinds of early leaves and determine the identity of the smallest seedlings with only cotyledon leaves.

I am not sure why the new cotyledons are green and the older ones are red. It could be the older ones are experiencing a modest amount of drought stress. With hardly any rain in the last few weeks, the plant may be diverting what water it can suck out of the soil with its young root system to the newest set of leaves, and the older seed leaves are dying off. On the other hand, within its first few weeks, maybe the plant has sucked most of the stored nutrients out of the seed leaves and is getting ready to drop them with the onset of a few sets of true leaves.

Each corkscrew approximately 14 mm long

There are other clues. Sometimes if you carefully look and probe, you can find a seed still attached to the young seedling. If the seed is something you recognize, then you might be able to identify the seedling, or at least a group of plants to which the seedling belongs. In this case, I found several different types of seeds on the surrounding soil, but it was the many corkscrew type structures on top and twisted into the soil that helped me figure out what this seedling is.

Now it is your turn to guess. I will post the answer in a few days.


  1. Great fun Cindy, like Heather I think the first is Ca. Poppy but the next is one I battle and I have been flaming them lately at the stage in the image, Italian Thistle I would say. But the latest image is a guess. Is it Filaree? David

  2. my guess on the corkscrew-like attachments for the seeds is
    Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides) but I don't remember you having any at your ranch.

  3. Erodium, bleah, weed! Also called Storksbill. I can never tell the types from each other but there is cicutarium, botrys, and one other.

  4. Yay, I got it! Do I get a walnut, or a snake?

  5. A bag of Estate Walnuts is waiting for you. When ya' gonna be down here again?

  6. Yaaay! I was looking at houses today on the peninsula. Fell in love with the bay area all over again; ferarri dealership across from a taqueria with bars on the windows where the lady made tortillas for my dinner by hand, a potential landlady who is so old-school Italian that she has plastic on all the furniture and was wearing a homemade apron, sunny days, windy roads, humidity, hills, oh my!


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