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How many seeds does one plant produce?

I had a particularly tall foxglove (nothing special, just a wild purple one) that had had a flower stem more than 2 ft long. When it died, I counted over120 seed heads and I picked one (admittedly one of the larger ones) and opened it onto a sheet of paper. By counting and estimating, I found there to be more than 1000 seeds, so that's 120,000 per flower stem and there were four flower stems (though not as big) on the same plant. My guess is therefore between a quarter and half of a million seeds,so I'll be more careful about disposing of dead foxgloves in future! Has anyone ever actually counted how many seeds are produced by a single plant for each species? If so, which holds the record?


  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 22,309
    in one season or over a lifetime? There’s a yew tree not far from here that they say is close to 2,000 years old. I don’t know how many potential offspring it may have created in its life.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,955
    Willowherb can produce around 100,000 seeds per plant [which is why it's such a pernicious weed] and there are lots of plants which produce thousands, which is why they're often sold by weight, but I doubt if anyone's ever counted seeds on plants. That would be fairly soul destroying!

    I'm reminded of a surveyor's  joke that my ex used to tell. The general and his men are hiding from the indians [forget PC nonsense here] and he asks his 2nd in command how many he thinks are out there, waiting to attack. 2nd in command thinks for a minute and says, '2,007'. 'How can you be so accurate?' says the general. 'Well - there's one behind that rock on the left, two behind the one on the right, four behind those trees... and about 2,000 beyond them'. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • BenCottoBenCotto Posts: 4,494
    The orchid Cynoches chlorochilon can produce up to 25 seed pods a year. Each pod contains almost 4 million seeds.

    @Fairygirl, your story reminds me of the visitors to the museum who were admiring a fossilised dinosaur tooth. They asked the assistant how old it was.
    ” Sixty million and four years.”
    ”How can you be so precise?”
    ”Well, I started working here four years ago and it was sixty million years old then.”
    Rutland, England
  • BenCotto said:
    The orchid Cynoches chlorochilon can produce up to 25 seed pods a year. Each pod contains almost 4 million seeds.

    And of all the millions of seeds that one plant produces in its lifetime, on average only one will result in a plant which produces seeds of its own.
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