lettuce seed color

jeaninmt(3a)August 21, 2012

Today I collected seed from some lettuce. The plants had around half the flowers "fluffed". I shook the plants into a tub and whacked them a bit with a big spoon. The seeds that came out were both brown and white.

A few days ago I harvested seed from a lettuce plant that had completely dried up and those seeds were mostly green.

These are all the same variety of lettuce. Any ideas on why the seed is different colors ? I am guessing it has to do with viability, that makes me wonder how to get higher percent of good seed, whichever that one is.

Thanks, Jean in Mt

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Hi Jean,
Lettuce seed varies in color from off white to charcoal in color.
I'm wondering about the green seeds on the dried up plant. It may be that it prematurely died. Green is normally an indicator of seed that is not ripe yet. There are a few exceptions like peas and beans, but in general, it is not good to collect green seed.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 10:02PM
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Hi Remy,
Thanks for the tip on green seed.Yea, somehow the plant did die prematurely, right next to some healthy ones. So, out with the green seed : )
So is it normal to have both seed colors on one lettuce plant? Sometimes lettuce seed is listed in catalogs and the seed color is mentioned, which made me think the variety had one color or the other ??
Thanks, Jean in Mt

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 1:27PM
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Hi Jean,
In general they do all come in the same shade. With any seed, there can be natural variation and how much variation depends on the variety. Most lettuce seed doesn't vary much in color with the cultivar.
Sometimes they do come listed as a color. The most famous of course is Black Seed Simpson. This was to differentiate from a light colored seed Simpson variety that predated it.
What variety did you grow?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 3:12PM
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Well the variety is a mystery. It came from a 10 year old packet of a "Gourmet Lettuce Mix". However this red leaf type lettuce does not match up with pictures of any of the varieties in the mix. None of the other varieties sprouted. But 12 years ago when I got it, I'm pretty sure I remember there being different varieties. Its a bit of a mystery.

The fact that the seed was good after 10 years was interesting to me and seemed like a good variety to try and continue.

Last year I planted it in the greenhouse, hoping to get some seed off it. Those plants died prematurely as well and the seed seemed very light and such, so I didn't save any and said, "oh well". Then this spring, the bed was full of baby lettuce plants. I transplanted to them to various places around the garden to aim for some healthy plants. And they are 90% healthy.

We have sclerotonia rot in the soil that gets lettuce sometimes, and I'm thinking that is what got it.
Wow, now you have the whole lettuce story : )
- Jean in Mt

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 4:26PM
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Very cool story. It doesn't matter the name since it did well for you. That is all that matters. We can't match the seeds against a known variety for what the color should be, but not the end of the world.Remy

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 9:23PM
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