Mystery seeds
September 14, 2012 5:13 AM   Subscribe

What are these mysterious seeds? They're 2-3 mm in diameter and about 2 mm high, spherical but slightly flattened (like a small tomato) with a brown hull and a round hilum. Important: the seeds were found in the gizzards of 23 day old broilers, so the hulls have been partly removed, some elements (like hairs) may be lost and colours may have been altered The broilers are from Western France, but the seeds could have contaminated an imported feed ingredient (such as Brazilian soybean meal or Ukrainian sunflower meal).

There's nothing else I know about them right now (for instance whether they're suspected to be toxic). I've tried to identify them using on-line seed atlases (the Digital Seed Atlas and this one from Serbia), to no avail. The shape seems rather specific and I've not even been able to guess the genus or family.
posted by elgilito to Science & Nature (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
They kind of remind me of the berries of the porcelain berry vine, but that's a real shot in the dark.
posted by Ys at 5:27 AM on September 14, 2012

sorry, link: It's more common to see them in blues & purples than browns, but apparently they do come in less wild tones.
posted by Ys at 5:28 AM on September 14, 2012

Maybe millet?
posted by thylacinthine at 6:01 AM on September 14, 2012

They resemble dogwood berries to me. They come in many colors, from red to white to purple, though they're often a little larger than 2-3mm. Lots of birds enjoy them, though I've never heard of them being used as feed.
posted by ourobouros at 6:18 AM on September 14, 2012

Looks like there are some poppy seeds and millet in there.
posted by gjc at 6:32 AM on September 14, 2012

posted by Ostara at 6:34 AM on September 14, 2012

I think sorghum is a very good guess. There's a zillion different varieties that all have slightly different characteristics. It's a big crop in Asia and Africa.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:50 AM on September 14, 2012

Sorghum is also often present in chicken feed -- chickens love it. So my money is on Sorghum.
posted by OrangeDisk at 2:13 PM on September 14, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone. Sorghum seeds are indeed used in poultry feeding but their shape is different (taller than wide, like small rounder maize grains, which is a related species) with a pointy hilum (the scar left by the attachment to the ovary). The mystery seeds have a depressed/sunken hilum, which seems to rule out Poaceae anyway (cereals including millets, grasses). Poppy seeds have an irregular shape and a characteristic hexagonal pattern on the testa that is not present on the mystery seeds. Also, these are not berries but hard seeds (or pips). Affter browsing through other seed databases, I have some candidates (Brassicaceae, Amaranthus) but nothing conclusive.
posted by elgilito at 2:13 PM on September 15, 2012

« Older Too many Lemons   |   Occupy Muldoon's! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.