Polycots seed envelope image
Generation 1 Polycots seedlings germinated on paper towelDescription Polycot Wisconsin Fast PlantsWhat are cotyledons?Polycots investigation calendarNew Polycot seed line is excellent for selection experiments.


Polycots Seed Stock

Polycots are a variety of Wisconsin Fast Plants® developed at UW-Madison specifically to support teaching and learning about variation and natural & artificial selection. Approximately 25% of the first generation seed stock will sprout more than 2 cotyledon leaves. The polycot trait does NOT demonstrate a Mendelian inheritance pattern. Rather, selection for the polycot trait will produce increased polycot frequency in subsequent generations. Both first and second generation seed stocks for Polycots are available, making it possible to conduct selection investigations without necessarily growing the plants beyond germination in a Petri dish and without actually producing second generation seed. Main uses include selection studies and experiments.


The entire life cycle is short; plants will produce harvestable seeds approximately 40 days after planting.

Individual Wisconsin Fast Plants® that sprout more than 2 cotyledon leaves are referred to as polycots. The trait is easy to identify and visible immediately after germination. A relatively rare trait in nature, this advanced research stock called Polycots was developed to investigate the heritability of the easily observable seedling trait (3 or more cotyledons) in a population of Fast Plants®. If only the polycots from First Generation seed stock are selected and intermated, the resulting second generation population will express approximately 30% or more polycots.

Second Generation Polycot seed stock is also available to purchase, making it possible to conduct as a thought experiment the selective breeding aspect of a selection experiment. This makes it possible to learn, using firsthand population data about natural selection and/or plant breeding without the time and effort required to produce second generation seed in the classroom (see sample Open Source Polycot lesson here).

Recommended for observing and experimenting with variation and selection. Offers a solid alternative to selecting for trichomes (i.e. “hairs”).


  • Variation and natural / artificial selection
  • Plant breeding basics
  • Experimental design and independent research projects

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