Some garden words are fun to say. Schizocarp [ˈskitsōˌkärp] certainly qualifies.
A schizocarp is a type of dry fruit that splits into single-seeded parts, called mericarps, when ripe. Each mericarp is made from its own carpel. [A carpel is the female reproductive parts of a flower, including an ovary, stigma, and usually a style.] Mericarps can be dehiscent, which means they split open when ripe, or indehiscent, which means they stay closed.
The seeds of carrots, celery, coriander, anise, dill, parsnip, and other umbellifers are all indehiscent schizocarps. Hibiscus (Malvaceae), mallows and cheeseweeds (Malva), false mallows (Malvastrum), and wireweed (Sida acuta) fall in the same category.
Members of the Geranium genus produce dehiscent schizocarps. [These are not the garden variety geraniums, which are another genus altogether (Pelargonium). I know, I know, it gets confusing.] True Geranium species include the cranesbill, horns’ bill and filaree plants that produce needle-shaped schizocarps that twist and gyrate into the soil (and were fun to play with, when we were children).
Maple trees produce winged schizocarps, called samaras.
Unlike the juicy fruits we enjoy each summer, or the dried caryopsis of cereal grains, plants that produce schizocarps have found that procreation works best when each flower produces a number of independent seeds protected by a dried fruit coating.
Now you know.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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