In order to collect the seeds from a stem I have to remove the spikes. Wearing gardening gloves doesn't work because I can't take a grip on the seeds when wearing the gloves. With my bare hands this is less gardening and more of a medieval torture method.

That's why I started using a plier to pull out the spikes. Although I grip only the spikes, some of the seeds came out too and this way I was able to free an area and to expand it with my fingertips while getting stung less. The problem is that the neighbouring seeds are damaged by the plier.

How can I remove the seeds without damaging them? The pink circle is an area vith damaged seeds and the red one is an area from which I have removed the seeds and the spikes.

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3 Answers 3


You need a small reasonably sharp knife. Provided the seedheads are dry enough, you stick the knife into the middle of the flower and wiggle it about and the seeds fall, then scrape the rest out with the side of the knife. Demonstration here https://youtu.be/Dc-AA3pOIEU - I've done this with an ordinary table fork too, but the heads have to be really mature and dry.


I've put the dry seedheads in paper lunch bags and banged them on a table a bit. This loosens both the seeds and the spikes, though, so then I had to use an old cookie sheet and let gravity and a little wind help with the winnowing. Because the seeds were very dry, the relatively light banging about that I did did not seem to damage them (germination was always quite good).


I recently read that one way to do this painlessly is to cut the seed heads with a few inches, then hang them upside down. As they dry, the seeds loosen and fall to the bottom of the bag.

I have to admit I never tried this (I'm way too impatient) and separate by hand, after which my fingers do hurt!

When my fingers are sore enough, I pull the stiff bracts (?) off the seed head with tweezers, which usually releases the seed, and work my way around the seed head. Tedious but less painful.

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