identifying plants with seed pods

Identifying plants with seed pods

There are two parts to this section – one on Seeds , and one on Seedpods .

The Seed section starts with photos of seeds of 1000 plants.

The seeds are shown in alphabetical order of their Latin name, and in most cases I’ve also given their English common name. All the pictures are more or less life-size, photographed in a 1″ circle. If you have some seeds with no name, this might help you to identify them. These life-size photos start here.

These pictures can’t be entirely accurate. For one thing, seeds even in the same seedpod can vary a bit in size and shape, so the particular seeds I’ve scanned might be a little different from the seeds of the same species you have. They can also change colour as they age. Some might be bright green or red or orange when they’re fresh, but dry to a dark brown. They can also shrivel during storage, so old seeds might be smaller than fresh seeds.

Next, there are photos of 950 of these seeds sorted by size and shape.

This Chart goes from dust-like and tiny seeds to big seeds, with seeds with Tufts or Tails and Cone or Grain Shaped Seeds on separate pages. Small seeds with Papery Edges and larger seeds with Wings or Papery Edges are also on separate pages. I hope this makes sense – it did to me when I started it!

Because these pictures are not in alphabetical order of the Latin name, you might like to use the Search Box below to find the seeds of a particular species, if you don’t want to look through all the pages.

Finally, there are larger-scale pictures of 900 seeds.

Although having all the seeds shown to the same scale does mean you can tell what size a particular seed is compared to the other seeds, it does mean you can’t see the detail of small seeds. So this section has bigger photos of 900 seeds so you can see more detail. Please remember the seeds in this section are not all to the same scale, so a bigger picture doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bigger seed. The larger-scale pictures are in alphabetical order of Latin names, starting here.

There are more large scale pictures of seeds on this website, or beautiful large-scale photos of seeds and seedpods mainly of alpine plants on the Scottish Rock Garden Club Forum.

The Seedpods section starts with photographs of 500 seedpods.

The seedpods are listed in alphabetical order of their Latin name. I’ve also given the English common name in most cases. This section starts here.

Next, there are several pages of Seedpods listed according to the Plant Family they belong to.

This is because the pods of many plants in some Plant Families are much the same, and you can often make a good guess about the Family a plant belongs to by examining its seedpod. There’s more about this and descriptions of seedpods typical of some Plant Families on this page. On the other hand, some Plant Families have seedpods of many different shapes and sizes, so knowing the Family isn’t much help. Where I haven’t had enough pods of a particular Family to put them together, I’ve listed them in alphabetical order of their botanical (Latin) name. For both Iridaceae and Liliaceae, I’ve included plants sometimes put in separate Families by some botanists. The photos of seedpods are on the following pages:

  • Amaryllidaceae
  • Apiaceae
  • Asteraceae
  • Bignoniaceae
  • Boraginaceae
  • Brassicaceae
  • Caesalpiniaceae
    and Mimosaceae
  • Campanulaceae
  • Caprifoliaceae

  • Caryophyllaceae
  • Geraniaceae
  • Iridaceae
  • Lamiaceae
  • Liliaceae
  • Malvaceae
  • Onagraceae
  • Papaveraceae
  • Papilionaceae
  • Passifloraceae

  • Polemoniaceae
  • Primulaceae
  • Ranunculaceae
  • Rosaceae
  • Saxifragaceae
  • Scrophulariaceae
  • Solanaceae
  • Other Families
  • Other Families
  • Other Families

If you don’t know which Plant Family a plant belongs to, you can just look through the photographs to identify a pod, or put the common name in the Search Box below.

These are all photos of the real thing in my garden or other gardens I’ve visited. If I haven’t grown a plant to flowering or producing seeds, I haven’t been able to photograph a seedpod. For some of the tropical trees and shrubs, I’ve sometimes had seedpods sent to me from other gardeners around the world, and I’m very grateful to all of them. I must especially thank Tricia from the US, Susan McNally in Jamaica, and Chris who sent seeds and seedpods from Zambia. It’s been very exciting to see where the seeds I’m growing have come from! Sometimes, I’ve had a seedling but the slugs have munched it full of holes, so I haven’t photographed it. Sometimes, I’ve sown all the seeds and only have a photo of the seedling. At present, there are a lot of gaps, but in time I hope to have them all filled. I’ll also be adding more images as my seedlings grow up to produce seedpods.

I’m afraid not all the photos are as good as I would like, but it’s sometimes difficult to get a clear photo of a tiny seedpod, and, on the other hand, it’s sometimes difficult to make a clear photo small enough to fit in the chart. In most cases, I’ve tried to show both the seedpod itself, and how the seeds fit in it.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, perhaps because you only know the common name of a plant or the botanical name has changed, try searching here:

Identifying plants with seed pods There are two parts to this section – one on Seeds , and one on Seedpods . The Seed section starts with photos of seeds of 1000 plants. The seeds are

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Thursday – June 07, 2012

From: Conroe, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Identification of plant with seed pods that have red seeds
Answered by: Nan Hampton


The pods and the seeds sound like something one would find on a shrub from the Family Fabaceae (Pea Family). Since it is around the pool area and most likely put there by a landscaping company (maybe the one you work for) it is likely a non-native cultivar. Our focus and expertise here at the Wildflower Center are with plants native to North America so we can’t tell you a lot about non-native cultivars, but I will see what I can find that might be native and produce red seeds. One native member of the Pea Family that has red seeds is Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel), but that is obviously NOT what you saw since it has purple flowers. Another native member of the Pea Family with red seeds, Erythrina herbacea (Coralbean) , not only has red seeds but red flowers.

To try to find a native plant with seeds and flowers that match your description, I did a search in our Native Plant Database by choosing “Fabaceae (Pea Family)” from the Family slot. When the list of over 400 plants appeared I used the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to choose “Texas” from the Select State or Province slot, “Shrub” from the General Appearance slot and “White” from Bloom Color. The only shrub that resembled the one you described is Eysenhardtia texana (Texas kidneywood). Here is a link to a photo of its seeds.

You can see photos of selected seeds of Fabaceae on the Seed ID Workshop from Ohio State University.

If you have a photo of the bush and its flowers, you can visit our Plant Identification page to find links to plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.

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