Round, tiny and fluffy — participate in citizen science seed collecting program

Photo of seeds

Butterfly milkweed, wild bergamot and prairie dropseed seeds

Like each prairie plant, each plant seed is also unique — from flat, round seeds attached to fluff in milkweed plants to long, oblong seeds from big bluestem.

You can learn all about native prairie seeds and how to collect them and put that knowledge into practice during the seed collecting program 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji.

Environmental education coordinator Bryanna Kuhlman will take people on a walk through the restored Kenue Park prairie to learn to identify specific seeds and see how to collect them. Then people will be able to head out and collect seeds on their own.

“I’m excited to share information and seeds with community members in hopes they will be able to create their own pollinator gardens,” said Kuhlman.

We rarely think about planting this time of year, with green grasses fading away and leaves starting to fall, but it’s actually a great time to spread seed for your new native pollinator garden. You can take seeds home and distribute them on bare soil until it is partially frozen.

The advantages of fall seeding is that the seed overwinters and comes up in spring on its natural schedule, just like it would do if it blew off the plant in the wild. Flowers have increased spring germination with fall seeding, and wet early spring soils encourage seed germination earlier in the season. Also, fall seeding does not require watering since the seed is in its dormant phase.

“Prairies are an interesting environment not only in summer, when in full bloom, but in every season,” said community relations coordinator Kiley Roth. “There is always something happening, and it will be neat for people to learn about seeds, the different sizes and shapes of seeds and how to collect them. Plus, if they want to participate and then leave the seeds with us for use at Dickinson County Conservation Board properties, it’s a great citizen science project.”

For more information on Dickinson County Nature Center programming, visit the environmental education page or call 712-336-6352. You can also keep up with the latest happenings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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