Seed of the Week: Desert Senna

Our wrinkly mystery seeds from last week were from desert senna, Senna covesii.

desert-senna-lynne

Often it is the desert senna's bright yellow flowers that catch your eye, standing out against the gray-green foliage.

DSC_0010

You might also "hear" the flowers because the bees that are attracted to them buzz pollinate, hanging onto the anthers and making a loud buzzing noise to vibrate the pollen loose.

DSC_0051

You can even hear the plant when there aren't any bees. As my friend Lynne points out, "You usually hear it before you see it. It can be in a non-blooming stage and you won't notice it but you hear it rattle." That characteristic has led to common names such as rattleweed or rattlebox.

mystery-seed-1s-pod

The sound is produced by the loose seeds rattling in the seed pods. Eventually the pods split open, releasing the seeds. The open pods stay on the plant for some time.

Desert senna is native to the Southwest, so it doesn't require much water. It is a low-growing perennial, reaching about two feet tall.

DSC_0010 2

In addition being attractive to bees, desert senna is also a host plant of the cloudless sulphur butterfly. It would make a wonderful addition to butterfly gardens.

___________

Thank you to Lynne for all her help and contributions to this post.

2 thoughts on “Seed of the Week: Desert Senna

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *