The Hidden Beauty of Seeds and Fruits

March 04, 2022



PhotographerMenashe Davidson

Summary AuthorMenashe Davidson 

This is Menashe Davidson's 100th Earth Science Picture of the Day!

When it comes to admiring plants, flowers generally hog all of the attention. This is true also for the thistle plant, the small globe thistle (Echinops genus, Asteraceae family). The plant’s Hebrew name is 'kipodan,” meaning “hedgehog,” because the spherical inflorescence of the flowers resembles a hedgehog. This thistle’s purple flower balls create a stunning display both in gardens and in the wild. Their cheerful blooms are drought tolerant and grow very well in poorer soils. (first photo).

However, after the flower's petals fade, the fruits and seeds of the small globe thistle plant are eye-catching in their own right. This can be seen on the second photo, enhanced by the illumination of the early morning Sun.

The thistle globe’s fruit or what we call "fruit" is just a bundle of many single fruits called "achenes," that are inserted directly on an apical plate. The botanical term "achene" means a dry, one-seeded fruit lacking special seams that split to release the seed. The seed coat is attached to the thin, dry ovary wall (husk) by a short stalk, so that the seed is easily freed from the husk. The small achenes are topped by membranous scales to ease dispersion (bottom photo).


Note that the top photo was taken on May 2020, and the middle and bottom photos were taken on October 1, 2021, while walking along the Natal Stream (Lakhish Bank) Israel.