Saturday September 13, 2014 Guerneville CA.
California Dutchman’s flower pods open and a mystery solved
I’ve been watching my California Dutchman’s flower pods now for awhile as I know they open up to spread their seeds around this time of year. I’ve seen them open up before, already opened up and all the seeds were gone and I couldn’t find any of them on the ground below the pod, so I was wondering what happened to the seeds when the pods opened up?
Yesterday, I noticed one of the pods was just starting to open, so this morning I checked it out and it had opened some more. The first thing I noticed was some ants going into them. They were too small to pack off the big seeds the pod holds.
Yellow Jackets packing off the seeds
But then, another insect shot into the plant, a yellow jacket. I watched for a bit as other yellow jackets came to the pod and packed away the seeds and the material in the pod around the seeds.
Here is one of the California Dutchman’s flowers pods, just opening up, with some ants going into it.
I wanted to see what the yellow jackets where eating, so I opened one of the pods up a bit, by peeling a couple of the segments back to expose the seeds and the inside of the pod. The yellow jackets came and packed off the seeds and the parts of the pod that the seeds are in.
Here’s another pod showing a yellow jacket entering another pod.
I put some clothe material under a pod and dropped some seeds on it to see if any yellow jackets would come to carry it off and sure enough, they did.
Here is a yellow jacket maneuvering the seed under it so it could fly off with it. The seed is rather large for them, but they seem to manage.
Propagating yellow jackets?
It seems the California Dutchman’s flower has a thing going with the yellow jackets. The yellow jackets are likely propagating the flowers seeds. They pack them back to the nest for the eatable goods on the outside of the seed. They likely lose some of the big seeds on the way back to the nest accidentally dropping them and not being able to find them in the litter on the ground.
So, now I know what happens to the flower pods seeds.
I spent the rest of the day working around the yard and taking it easy too. I did a few little projects and was sitting in one of my chairs along a fence when I heard a squirrel coming down the big redwood tree at the other end of the fence. I got my camera ready as I knew the squirrel might be coming down the top of the fence as I’ve seen them do it before.
Sure enough, soon a red squirrel came a running down the fence.
The squirrel sees me. Oh, oh, what’s that up ahead, some one sitting there, now what, I want by.
It scampered back a ways, then stopped and jumped off the fence from this spot. A rather long jump to the pepper wood tree in back of the fence and it was gone.
I spent the rest of the day chair hopping and taking it easy enjoying my yard