It’s mid July and we are fully immersed in seed collecting. For the last couple weeks, and for our unforeseeable future, all my partner and I do is check in at the field office, drive out to a field site, pick whatever wildflower seeds we are targeting that day for roughly six to seven hours, and then return and go home and pass out. Sometimes we spend the entire day both picking the same seeds, for instance with Comandra umbellata, which produces a single seeded fruit, so for us to reach a target of 20,000 seeds, it could take an entire week. If we are collecting something in the Apiaceae or Asteraceae family, which can produce anywhere from 75-150 seeds per plant, we can complete an entire collection and then some within an afternoon. These collections are by no means more significant, but as the person making the physical collections…I love those days! The satisfaction one gets from collecting 35,000 in one day is incredible.
We’ve strategically selected field sites with more than one species seeding out, making what we call opportunistic collections along the way. Recently we spent the entire week at one particular field site called Miner’s Delight because there were four viable collections seeding out all at once. My partner would tackle one species, while I focused on another, and then midday we might switch, to avoid becoming bored or sloppy. They’re long days, but it’s also very pleasant once you allow yourself to become fully immersed in your work and nature. One collection we made during that week that I am particularly proud of was Penstemon radicosus, which is very beneficial for native pollinators in the area 🙂
This little guy caught my attention while I was collecting Lomatium simplex var. simplex at Miner’s Delight that same week, I had to take a few minutes to bask in his/her colorful glory. I’m finding the proximity that seed collecting allows me to have with so many different bugs, is one of my favorite perks about this job. I’ve watched beetles oviposite eggs, dragon flies mating, and a slew of incredible spiders. My phone is quickly filling up with just pictures of plants and insects…
We’re a little more than halfway through our internship and we’ve made about ten or eleven collections so far and have many more in front of us. Right now I can’t imagine life void of seed collecting…which is a good thing, I guess!