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identify seeds

Identify seeds

A website devoted entirely to seeds!
WELCOME to my webpages about seeds – collecting seeds, storing seeds, sowing seeds, germinating seeds
and exchanging seeds, with pictures of seeds, seedpods and seedlings (and a bit of botany!)

Seeds and Seed Pods – If you want to collect your own seeds, but aren’t sure what the seed or seedpod looks like, or if you have seeds without a name, hopefully this section will help you identify them. Life-size pictures of 1000 seeds in alphabetical order of their Latin name, 950 seeds sorted by size and shape, and close-up images of 900 seeds to show more detail. Photographs of 500 seedpods (sorted by alphabetical order of Latin name or according to the Plant Family they belong to) so you can recognise those too.

Seed Harvesting – A light-hearted look at seed collecting, which will tell you all you need to collect, dry and store seeds from the plants in your garden. Also includes answers to some Frequently Asked Questions to help ensure your seeds are ripe, healthy and viable, and several designs for seed envelopes to put them in.

Seed Sowing – General information about how, when and where to sow seeds by several different methods. Explains the reasons you might want to use winter sowing, and suggests plants you can start this way. Includes a photo guide to seed sowing and pricking out.

Germination – A Seed Germination Database – A table showing the results of sowing over 2000 batches of seeds of almost 1700 species, by several different methods, at different times of the year.

Seedling Images – Photos of 800 seedlings in alphabetical order of their Latin name, or sorted according to the shape of the first true leaves, with their Latin and common names, to make it easier to identify the plantsthat come up in your garden, or to show you what should come up from the seeds you sow. Includes some FAQs about seedlings.

Database – bringing together the information from the other sections, with Latin names, Plant Family, English common name, Germination information, photographs of Seedpod, Seed and Seedling, for over 600 plants.

Plant Profiles – 200 pages with photos and descriptions of 50 favourite annuals, 50 favourite perennials, 50 alpine and rockery plants, and 50 British Wildflowers (and some common British butterflies). Includes a large photo, botanical classification, and the photographs of seedpod, seeds and seedlings from the other sections.

Now also includes templates for making mini-cards to help identify 48 common British wildflowers.

Plant Index – All the plants covered in these pages, listed by botanical name or common name, linked to the relevant page so you can go straight to the information you want. Also has a Search Box, in case you can’t! Or you can use the common names index to check the botanical names of your plants.

A Bit of Botany – Some technical bits – gardening and botanical terms, including types of fruits, diagram of a flower, classification of plants (including information on the new APG III system), meaning of Latin names, botanical names for common plants, an Introduction to Plant Families, pests, weeds, leaf shapes, flower shapes and more, with explanatory photos, charts and diagrams.

Information for Teachers – A page of links to some topics on The Seed Site that might be useful for the National Curriculum Key Stages in Science.

The Junior Seed Site – A shorter and simpler version of The Seed Site especially for younger gardeners, with hints on choosing plants, sowing seeds, recognising your seedlings and collecting your own seeds, and some templates for seed envelopes to colour in.

I hope you find these pages helpful. Once again, here are all the sections on the site:

I’d like to think everything on these pages is right, but I’m only a gardener, and have no botanical qualifications or experience.
If you find any errors, please let me know.

If you can’t see what you’re looking for listed above, you can search the site here:

Identify seeds A website devoted entirely to seeds! WELCOME to my webpages about seeds – collecting seeds, storing seeds, sowing seeds, germinating seeds and exchanging seeds, with pictures of

Identify seeds

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:

Identify seeds 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