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harvesting joe pye weed seeds

Although the flower heads seem fairly dry, they still need to be dried a few days by spreading them out on a tarp. Once dry, the seeds must be cleaned before using. It is fairly easy to clean the seeds. Just put the flower heads on top of a piece of fairly course screening (available from a hardware store) and scrape them back and forth. The seeds fall through, and the empty stems can be thrown away. Store the seeds in a dry place in a grocery bag until time to plant.

Yesterday I spent an hour or so collecting woodland Joe Pye weed ( Eupatorium purpureum ). This species is relatively similar to the wetland Joe Pye weed ( E. maculatum ), but less colorful and better adapted to woodland areas. It is a strikingly tall species that has become established in those parts of our savannas which have more closed canopy (50% or even a bit more).

The best stands of E. purpureum are north of our North Fire Break, just before the steep drop off into the oak woodland. I used the Kawasaki Mule to get in there, and it was an enjoyable day, quiet and peaceful. I got two buckets full of seed heads.

While I was seed collecting, I was also keeping my eye out for small buckthorn that needed spritzing or basal barking. Fortunately, the buckthorns were fairly scattered here, and I proably only treated a couple dozen plants. I carried a spray bottle in my belt pack. We’ll be back in this area in the winter for more extensive buckthorn work. Hopefully, this will be a low snow year so that we can get some work done!

Although this plant is not officially considered as invasive, it certainly can feel that way. It spreads quickly underground and sows it seed far and wide with the help of the wind.

The plant comes as a member of the aster family. It appears as the tallest perennial herb in North America. Typically, it stands between 4′ feet and 7′ feet tall and measures a spread of approximately 2′ feet.

All types bear purple, mauve or pink flowers producing copious joe pye weed seeds strewn by the wind. The stems seem sturdy and deep purple or purple flecked. In addition, the foliage generally appears dark green with varying degrees of saw-toothed edging.

Taking Care Of Joe Pye Weed

You can also grow seedlings on your own by gathering and saving the seeds. You can also purchase them at your local nursery or online.

It prefers occasional deep watering to sprinkling, and it will appreciate a thick layer of mulch to help hold moisture around the roots.

The stems of the eupatorium fistulosum seem purplish and, true to its name, hollow inside. Leaves grow in groups of 4-7 and spread narrowly with softly rounded serrations along the edges.

Because these plants do grow tall (upwards of 6′ feet) and thick, they also make an excellent spring and summertime privacy screen. Planting them in a hedge along property lines makes a smart use.

Oleander seed pods resemble Milkweed seed pods. The pods are 3 to 4 inches long and resemble overly ripe, skinny bananas. As soon asthe pods open, they seeds are ready to harvest. Place a paper bag over the seed head and give it a good shake.

To collect seeds, I use one of three items depending on the plant and how it disperses its seeds. I usually select either a paper bag, a tall glass, or small clear plastic cups.

I prefer to store seeds in paper packets which are then stored in a dark, dry cupboard. I make the paper packets out of 4″ x 4″ pieces of paper that I fold in half and tape up the 3 sides with masking tape. The packets are labeled with the seed info and date. I don’t have to worry about moisture problems when I store seeds in paper, which has been a problemwith small ziplock bags.

Harvesting Oleander Seeds

Joe Pye Weed’s seeds are mature when the large purple flowerheads have begun fading and turning to brown. Hundreds of seeds are attached to white tufts which will carry them away in the wind. Place a paper bag over a seed head and shake the flower stalk to free the seeds.

Oleander seed pods – not quite ready for harvesting

For the majority of remaining seeds, I use clear cups for collection. I like clear cups because I can see how many seeds I’ve collected, spot the occasional insect that needs rescue, and I can label the cups with a marker to keep things organized.

Impatient Seed Pods Almost Ready To Harvest