Friday’s seeds – Mitchella repens

I recently collected more partridge berries, together with Lindera benzoin and Prosartes lanuginosa (already shown, click on names).

Mitchella repens presents an interesting fruit, therefore worth a closer look. The red, fleshy, ‘two-eyed’ fruit it is formed after the fusion of the flowers ovaries – the white, fragrant flowers are disposed in pairs.  So, each pair of flowers will form one fruit. Each fruit has a spongy inside (a bit like Gaultheria) and will contain up to 8 seeds.

Mitchella repens fruits and seeds – Partridge berry, twinberry, squaw vine (Fam. Rubiaceae)

Why this perfect, evergreen ground hugging plant is seldom seen cultivated in the gardens remains a mystery to me. It can be easily propagated by cuttings as well.

Belated Friday’s seeds – Chamaedaphne calyculata

Instead of writing about seeds, I was in collecting them ;) therefore a combined post about Chamaedaphne calyculata, the Leatherleaf or ground laurel.

The sole member of the genus Chamaedaphne (Ericaceae), leatherleaf is a low growing evergreen small shrub (up to 1.5 m tall). It is native to cool regions of the Northern Hemisphere, from North America, NE Europe to N. Japan, Mongolia and Siberia, where grows in all types of bogs, sedge fens, and open wetlands.
It is characteristic of mature and late stages of moss shrub communities, where it forms colonies, with rhizomes spreading in the sphagnum moss. It actually helps the installation of other species with whom is found growing, like Sarracenia, Drosera, Kalmia polifolia, Ledum groenlandica, various Vaccinium species.

The common name comes from the thick, leathery leaves, which are turning red-brown in the winter. It has a dense branching and the older stems turn gray with a fine exfoliating bark texture.
The white, bell shaped flowers on long inflorescences appear in April-July, depending on the region. Somewhat resembles Andromeda flowers, which is why Linnaeus first named it Andromeda calyculata.

Chamaedaphne calyculata, Leatherleaf

Fruits are capsules with split open and release the seeds shown below (wedged shaped, golden brown).

Chamaedaphne calyculata fruits and seeds

 It would make a great addition for small and large bog gardens. For those who have conditions and enjoy growing Ericaceous species – the seeds require cold/moist stratification and probably best to germinate them like in nature on a piece of sphagnum moss (in a pot/or ‘in situ’). I showed in a previous post how to easily germinate Gaultheria procumbens and Saxifraga cuneifolia in moss (Read here Sowing in moss).

Chamaedaphne calyculata seedlings germinated/growing on sphagnum moss (look around the Tamarack branch :)

 

 

In kindness – Spigelia

Few years ago I bought a postal card that I meant to frame but never got around to do it. In a lovely aboriginal design by Terry Starr (Tsimshian artist), hummingbirds are shown sipping nectar from red flowers.
The drawing named – In Kindness has the following note:
“Hummingbirds symbolize the act of offering peace and the generosity of sharing wealth”.

In kindness – by Terry Starr

I don’t know what the red flowers are but they remind me of Spigelia marilandica (Indian pink) and a very kind and generous friend who takes care to catch its seeds (explosive capsules) in small organza bags every year :)

Spigelia, with its red flowers sought after hummingbirds and their symbolism it is such a good fit for our Canada 150 Celebration Sale that I can’t abstain to add it to the list.

Let’s celebrate kindness for a while!

Those in need can read more about Spigelia here.
*1 pck. limit/customer while on sale

 

Fridays Seeds – or is a fruit? part II Morina

It’s Friday again so I continue the discussion (or better said monologue) about fruits versus seeds with Morina longifolia, commonly called Himalayan whorlflower.
If someone missed the Triosteum, see here.

What we call ‘seeds’ for Morina longifolia are also fruits (achenes). Morina is considered a warm germinator with the note that sometimes the hard teguments remain attached to the seedlings and are difficult to remove.

After being soaked in water for a few days, Morina achenes became soft and were easy to cut open. Actually, the tegument is quite thin compared to that of Triosteum, which is why I botched both seeds when trying to remove them (I couldn’t afford more fruits to test on).

But, we can have a look at the fully developed embryo I managed to extract from the second seed; notice the very large cotyledons.

Conclusion: soaking the seeds in water a few days (5-6), followed by sowing at room temperature should suffice for Morina. Before, I recommended keeping the seeds in a moist towel in the fridge for a couple of weeks, which is OK as well, but not really  necessary.
 

 

To autumn – the lusty song of fruits and flowers

Images from out in the woods, from the garden and even along the margins of the roads, all reflecting the harmony of colours, shapes and textures that autumn brings, were flashing through my mind when cleaning fruits today.  Such an easy way to go into a lyrical mood…(I’ll keep it short ;)

“O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stained
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof…
………………………………………
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers”.

                                           W. Blake – To Autumn

 

Friday’s seeds – or is it a fruit? Triosteum

Sometimes we refer to ‘seeds’ without actually realizing that we are talking about the fruits.
This is the case of dry fruits like achenes, caryopses, samaras…, which tightly enclose the seed(s) and it would be practically impossible/or at least highly impractical to try to ‘extract’ the seeds.

So, why do we care if we sow seeds or fruits?
Knowing that we actually handle fruits, helps understanding why certain treatments are needed for the storage/germination process. Also, because in these cases we cannot see the actual seeds, we only make the assumption they are inside the fruit and will germinate in due time. Which perhaps they will, but sometimes there is no one there to do it!
To understand what I mean, you can have a look back at two notorious examples:
False assurance – Linnaea borealis
The Beauty and the Parthenocarpy – Acer triflorum

In the Caprifoliaceae family there are also species with dry fruits which we treat as seeds, like Morina and Triosteum. In both cases, they have hard teguments which play a role in retarding/obstructing the germination.

I wanted for a long time to have a closer look at Triosteum aurantiacum. I found no reliable info regarding its germination but someone who bought ‘seeds’ few years ago got back to me saying that by filing the fruits tegument, followed by GA3 and/or cold-moist stratification obtained good results.

So, I placed the fruits in warm water for a few days in an attempt to soften their teguments before I proceed to dissections. In Triosteum – and I refer here to Triosteum aurantiacum – the fruits resemble coffee beans, and only by looking at them one can imagine it will take a lot of time for them to disintegrate naturally in the soil.

Even after keeping them in water for few days I had to use a cutter to slice through them. The wall of the fruit is extremely thick and the seed is fused to it.
Here’s a plate showing the whole story in pictures:

I managed to extract one seed intact – inside, the embryo is invisible with the naked eye because of underdevelopment, pointing to the requirement of at least one period of cold/moist stratification.

This is a Triosteum aurantiacum SEED

Conclusion: these are the options to hurry up the germination for Triosteum – first, by filing the hard tegument with a metal file almost until reaching the seed, followed by cold/moist stratification 3 months.

Second, by nicking the end of the fruit (I used this myself for T. pinnatifidum), followed by cold/moist stratification for a few months. In this case, take care not to harm the seed when nicking the end and best to keep the fruits in water for a few days to somehow soften them.

A suplimentary GA3 treatment coupled with the cold/moist stratification may have some effect or not; I will try it this winter and we’ll know for sure.

About Morina next time…

 

 

 

September Newsletter

Bits of this and that from what’s happening right now.

Flowering wise

Many of the late summer/fall flowering species are now in bloom in the garden and elsewhere but nothing says September better than Gentiana andrewsii; everyone is in love with it! Another beloved gentian, Gentiana cachemirica, is reaching towards the end of flowering and the capsules look promising.
Talking gents (I already divert…) Gentiana cruciata seeds from my own production (mother plants were grown from wild collected seeds) are almost ready.
In the woods and margins of the roads, the goldenrods are ‘shining’; also the first Aster species and the turtleheads (Chelone) are in bloom.

Gentiana andrewsii

 FRUITS and SEEDS wise

Lindera benzoin, the spice bush, fruits are beginning to change colours and gradually they will all become deliciously red. By the look of them, collecting will happen somewhere at the end of September. Last year’s moist seeds have germinated in late spring by 100%.
Because the seeds require moist storage, they are not collected in large quantity unless pre-ordered. More will follow about Lindera – a most useful, shade tolerant small shrub/tree for part shaded/sunny and preferably moist areas. Most important – it is the favourite larval host for the Spicebush swallowtail and Promethea silkmoth!

Lindera benzoin

At this time of year it is a pleasure to go hiking in the woods, with many colourful fruits beckoning in the woodland filtered shade: red Jack in the pulpits (Arisaema triphyllum), golden mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum), bluish Medeola, dark-red Aralia racemosa, Euonymus obovatus….to mention just a few.

Also, various native dogwoods are getting towards their fall display with foliage and fruits changing colours. Cornus rugosa and Cornus alternifolia seeds can now be found in the Shop.

 

Back home, a few days ago I managed to painfully extract a few seeds from the prickly dry stems of Morina longifolia. You can read more about this super cool, thorny species by clicking on the name. Selecting Morina seeds, gave me the idea for a Friday’s seeds post which will focus on Caprifoliaceae (including Triosteum) – in the works…

Celebrate Canada 150 – Seeds Sale  category has seen new additions: Dictamnus albus and Teucrium canadense. Also, everyone can still take advantage of Asarum, Sanguinaria and Trillium moist packed seeds!

Peony species seeds will soon be available and the time is right for them to form roots, if sown immediately. This way, the first leaves will grow next spring; otherwise they need two years for complete germination.

Please keep an eye on the Seeds List, during the fall it gets updated every few days.

Meanwhile, if someone has any seed-related questions or wishes to pre-order fall collected seeds, please don’t hesitate to ask using the Contact form.

Enjoy the bountiful of flowers, fruits and seeds September brings!

My thanks and best regards to all,
Gabriela