Ballistic Plants

2016-03-05 19.16.53 smI only just harvested the black beans before they all exploded in the garden. It was the hot sun Thursday and Friday that did it. Friday afternoon, when I realised how dry the beans were, I raced to pick as many as I could, and was able to bring in the last of them this morning, with only a few losses.

Though it can be a pain for harvesting, I love plants with explosive seeds. As much as the explosion and shower of seeds, I like the empty pod afterwards. The tension that caused the explosion is gone, and the empty pod twists into attractive little corkscrews.

We have a weed in the yard with seeds so explosive, my daughter and I have dubbed it the seed-in-your-eye plant. It’s real name is bitter cress (Cardamine hirsuta). It’s common in the flower beds around the house, and has a habit of detonating just as a hapless weeder grabs hold of it (hence the seeds in the eye).

My favourite explosive plant is touch-me-not. Where I grew up, touch-me-nots sprang up in any moist hollow. As soon as they started flowering in summer, I’d start searching for ripe seed pods. I’d give each seed pod a gentle squeeze—if the pod was ready, it would burst under my fingers, sending yellow seeds scattering, and turning into a curly work of art. I loved the feel of the deforming fruit.

Sadly, my own children only have beans and bitter cress to detonate here. Now, if I can just convince them that shelling dry beans by detonating them is great fun…

 

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