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There is great concern about the decrease in the migratory population of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) in the USA. Monarchs are in decline in part due to herbicides killing milkweed (Asclepias spp.). One thing we can do to assist is to plant milkweed, the host for the monarch caterpillar. First, seed pods must be collected from the plants at the end of their growing season when they are completely dried out, but before the pods have let go the seeds. Second, the seeds should be separated from the floss, which normally functions in dispersal by wind. The purpose of this instructable is to demonstrate a simple method of separating the seeds on a small scale. For a large scale separator (trash can size), see the MonarchWatch web site here.

Step 1: Materials

-Milkweed seed pods

-One-gallon plastic container with a wide-mouth lid

-Bouncy balls -- small

-Container to collect the seeds

<p>Why is it necessary to remove the floss? Can you not just take the whole pod to a field, open and scatter the seeds there?</p>
<p>You could. This method is designed to reduce the volume of the seeds for convenient storage, stratification and possibly shipping. As you see, the gallon of intact seeds with floss is reduced to a handful.</p>
<p>Yes, I suppose that would be useful for storage and shipping purposes. However, I have heard some people say stratification can be bypassed if you plant the seeds in the fall, and let it go through natural stratification during the winter and spring. If this is true, (I'm not an expert gardener, just a lazy one :P ) wouldn't it be more efficient to keep the floss on so that the wind can disperse the seeds naturally? </p>
<p>Yes, this method is obviously for situations when you want to control where they are planted.</p>
<p>Nice! I'll give this a shot ext time I mail seeds from my plant to friends.</p>

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Bio: I like to build useful things, especially by repurposing objects of low value.
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