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

Moist packing – what’s that?

As I was packing seeds today, I thought that maybe some people who never bought or they buy for the first time moist packed seeds may wonder what they would get.

Sometimes I get questions as well, so although I have shown pictures in previous posts, it is good to tell again. There is no secret; seeds that are known to be hydrophilic (to make a long story short – these are seeds which need to be sown right away after collecting or if not, kept moist to preserve their viability), are cleaned from the fruits and stored in slightly moist vermiculite in Ziploc bags. And no, there is no need to spray the seeds with anything chemical.

For shipping, the portion of seeds is placed in smaller bags with a bit of the moist vermiculite (*exception for US orders, when the seeds are are packed with a piece of moist paper towel). These seeds are to be sown right away after receiving.

Asarum canadense moist packed seeds for shipping

These small bags are not intended for storing the seeds long term! (I know someone tried to do that, that’s why I mention it). If you really want to keep the seeds longer, and /or provide stratification in the fridge instead of sowing, you need to transfer them in larger bags with added moist vermiculite (slightly moist peat works as well).

Very small seeds, like those of Coptis shown in the picture, are easily sown by spreading the content of the bag on top of the potting mix (no need to pick the seeds from the vermiculite). Even larger seeds are better sown this way.

Coptis trifolia moist packed seeds

In case of hydrophilic seeds, if kept dry they will either not germinate at all, or will germinate poorly/over a longer period of time. Keeping them moist and allowed the required cycles that mimic the natural conditions will result most times, in 100% germination in the spring. It is a lot of extra work but worth doing it.

Thank you! – Merci! to all our customers

 

Overheating – Roscoea tibetica f. atropurpurea

In this part of the world, the heat & humidity combined together can be quite unbearable. Today, we reached around 38C, with the humidex!
Even the little Roscoea tibetica f. atropurpurea couldn’t take it anymore and the first capsule bursted out in desperation. Two more to follow…

Roscoea tibetica f. atropurpurea with split capsule

I talked about this Roscoea a few times; a cute little thing and a curiosity. It shows up very late (June), produces only few flowers and it is so small that it needs a special place to be seen. Plus, the capsules split in a most unattractive way. Still, I found it charming :) Don’t you?

Roscoea tibetica f. atropurpurea – measured last year

Friday’s Seeds – Soldanella

Soldanellas, the snow bells, are absolutely charming plants. I love them all and would like to grow more of them (I’m not very successful at doing it for now….).
So, I was very happy to find seeds of these two species in the Carpathians; I can at least ‘keep’ them in the Seeds Library, if not in the garden :+)

Soldanella pusilla – a high altitude, calcifuge, miniature snowbell; likes the company of P. minima, Campanula alpina, Rhododendron myrtifolius.

Soldanella pusilla seeds

Soldanella hungarica – has fringed, wide bluish/purple flowers and grows in the shade of Fagus sylvatica stands, many times sharing the place with Saxifraga cuneifolia ssp. robusta.

Soldanella hungarica seeds

 

 

 

 

Friday’s seed – Iris ruthenica

Back to the Friday’s seed with an ad-hoc seeds photo session up in the mountains.
I. ruthenica has a relatively wide distribution from Eastern Europe to Asia, growing usually at subalpine and alpine elevations.
I particularly like it for the fragrant, deep blue/violet, flowers and the narrow leaves which form tufts of grassy ledges on the mountain slopes.

Iris ruthenica falls in the category of arillate irises and since the arils are drying fast, I wanted to capture them as fresh as possible, so not a very good image but it serve its purpose

Spending time on the mountain slope gazing at the blue sky and the rock walls would have been satisfying enough; weaving my hands through the grassy tufts to find the iris capsules made the moment unforgettable. The flowers pictures was taken during another trip, in a different location.

Last minute seeds collecting and away on holidays

Good news for those who pre-order, I did a last minute seeds collecting and cleaning  of Trillium grandiflorum! In case someone doesn’t notice the banner on the front page and stumbles on the blog here:

The Seeds Shop and all other activities, except seed collecting :) are suspended until August 10!

It is preferably to not place orders; if it happens, don’t worry, shipping will resume after August 10.

To quote John Muir – “The mountains are calling and I must go”. I’ll be back….

 

Friday’s Seed – Jeffersonia diphylla

During a visit to the Aspen Groves Gardens to leave a few of my ‘precious’ seedlings for babysitting, I have also been ‘presented’ with nice, fresh and fat seeds of Jeffersonia diphylla :)

The seeds don’t keep very well in moist storage and I will be trying a new method this year, but you may never know how it goes…I recommend to those who have been waiting for it, to get hold of the seeds right now (orders are accepted until July 12th, then the Shop will be closed till August 10th).

All you need to know is here: http://botanicallyinclined.org/growing-jeffersonia-from-seeds/

Jeffersonia diphylla, Twinleaf; few seeds still attached to the fruit wall.

Jeffersonia diphylla seeds – 1 mm grid

 

And btw, those living in driving distance from Guelph, Ontario – this Saturday, July 8, Aspen Grove Gardens of Robert and Judy Pavlis are open for visiting from 10 am- 4 pm.  Don’t miss the opportunity!

Read more and see pictures here: http://www.robertpavlis.com/aspen-grove-gardens/

 

Note: Besides sowing fresh or moist kept seeds, I emphasize again the requirement for good germination.

Baskin & Baskin have shown that ripe seeds of Jeffersonia diphylla have an underdeveloped embryo. Seeds need high summer temperatures (30˚C) in order for the embryo to develop optimally and reach at least one mm in length before dormancy can be broken by cold stratification. If this requirement is not met, another warm/cold cycle is required by the seeds to germinate.

Jeffersonia diphylla two-year old plant

The Goldthread

One little species I’ve just managed to collect seeds from, although not an easy task, is the Goldthread – Coptis trifolia.

A member of Ranunculaceae with circumboreal distribution, Coptis enjoys cooler, moist conditions in deciduous or coniferous forests and often grows on mossy bumps on the wetland edges together with other species like Medeola, Clintonia, Viola macloskeyi, Skunk cabbage…

Coptis trifolia, Goldthread; the name goldthread comes from the golden-yellow, thin rhizomes that were chewed by Native Americans to treat mouth sores, and later used as ingredients in gargles for sore throats and eye washes.

Every year I have the privilege to admire the white, rich in nectar flowers early in the spring, at the same time when Hepatica is in flower. It will put up new shiny, evergreen trifoliate leaves after is done flowering and setting seeds.

About the seeds, well, being a Fam. Ranunculaceae member I found sources saying it requires moist storage to preserve viability. I was reluctant given the small seeds to keep it that way before (plus I never had too many seeds anyway).
But going deeper into the subject, it seems that the tiny seeds contain an even tinier underdeveloped embryo.

Coptis trifolia capsules and seeds (1 mm grid)

So, in keeping with our no-DOD policy, for this season the seeds were pre-packaged in moist vermiculite and a few packets are available in the shop – Coptis trifolia.
I don’t know how well they will keep in moist storage being the first time I try, so better take advantage….

Like other Ranunculaceae with similar seed collection times and underdeveloped embryos, for best germination I recommend a warm period followed by a cold one (it is possible to require a second warm/cold cycle and germination to occur in the second year).

Note:
Coptis trifolia was first described as Helleborus trifolius by Linnaeus in 1753.  

Sneaky Saruma

Saruma took advantage I didn’t watch it for a couple of days and dropped its seeds into the ground. Sneaky!

But I still caught some of them ;) and there will be more because, unlike its cousins Asarum species, it flowers on and off throughout the summer.

Saruma henryi fresh seeds – the clustered seeds seem to mimic bird droppings or a caterpillar?; no need for the strategy because they fall to the ground very fast after the fruit splits open.

It joined right away the Moist packed seeds category! Very easy from fresh or moist kept seeds.