Collecting Dune Plant Seeds

At this time of the year our thoughts turn to seed collection, and the first group of plants we deal with are those from the sand dunes. We collect seeds from several dune plants but the biggest job is for Spinifex (Spinifex sericeus).

This is the plant we all know from the beach with the tumbleweed-like seedheads. There is only a small window of opportunity to collect these seedheads, because we need to pick just the biggest ones, and we need to pick them just before the time the plant is ready to release them. If they need to be pulled to get them off the plant, then they are not ready to pick. It is not hard to find plenty of seedheads, but big ones that are just ready to pick are not so easy. And we need lots. 2500 seedheads should yield about 45,000 seeds but we plant them 3 at a time so those 2500 seedheads might give us 15,000 plants, and his number could easily be planted in the Whangapoua to Pauanui area every year. MBET grows a few of these plants but they are mostly grown by a specialist Nursery in Whakatane, but he seeds still have to be collected here.

Other Dune Plants

Knobby Club Rush (Ficinia nodosa) is much easier to gather seed from. The seeds are held in clusters near the ends of the upright spikelets. When ripe you can just rub these clusters to release lots of tiny seeds. We collect it in paper bags and it stores easily until we plant it either in the coming autumn or next spring.

Sometimes called wire vine, Pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia complexa) forms a dense mat, and likes to climb up and over other dune plants, particularly Knobby Club Rush, and the two are often planted together. This photo shows the small, white gel like fruits, each of which holds a small black seed. We have to beat the birds to these fruits and we pick large numbers of them which we then dry, and store until planting time.

To learn more about what the Mercury Bay Environmental Trust is all about, read on here. If you want to help us build a better future and be a part of MBET, you can become a volunteer or a supporter. Find out what suits you the best on our Get Involved page.

written by Kim Lawry – Trustee


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