Friday’s seeds – Echinops crispus

Besides the seeds, a sunny image with Echinops crispus (curly Echinops) on this bitterly cold day; the red flowers of Anthyllis might warm us up.

Echinops crispus and Anthyllis vulneraria var. coccinea in the background, early June 2017

I secretly watched this globe thistle evolve from a small seedling into a beautiful clump this year; too bad I was away just when at its most glorious time. The underside of leaves and the stems are covered with a thick pubescence (shown in the featured image), a perfect adaptation for the drought; grown from seeds collected in the southern Ural Mts. (Chelyabinsk region).

Echinops crispus, July 2017

 Like in many other species from Fam. Asteraceae, some of the fruits (achenes) are empty, thus careful selecting of the seeds is necessary.

Echinops crispus fruits and seeds

Echinops name from the Greek words ‘ekhinos’ = hedgehog, sea urchin and
‘ops’ = face, head (referring to the appearance of the inflorescences)

Friday’s Seed – Halloween edition

Anthirrhinum braun-blanquetii

Anthirrhinum braun-blanquetii capsules & seeds

The hardy snapdragon is a super easy plant to do from seeds: warm germinator and easy going seedlings. Started early it will flower in the first year, all summer long and late into fall (including right now).

Maybe I should pack some capsules and hand them out instead of candy? :) :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday Seedex with Asteraceae

I’m late with preparing the seedex donations; just sent a small one to the SCRG and since the local mail doesn’t take long, I’ll pack a few more for ORG & HP Society this weekend.

It’s not easy to decide what to give; I always start to think what would be more attractive from what I have surplus, then some need more cleaning than others, and so on…Speaking of cleaning, nothing is more disappointing than receiving the wonderful little packets only to find inside ‘not so good seeds’, or just parts of them (it happened a few times).

Special attention is needed to all species in Fam. Asteraceae because by as a rule some of the seeds are always empty and it is not always easy to see which ones with the naked eye; a strong hand lens is necessary.

For example, let’s look at Anthemis carpatica ssp. pyrethriformis I just prepared for ORGS & HP. This subspecies, endemic to Eastern Carpathian Mts., while bearing the same large flowers is smaller in size than the regular A. carpatica.
It is super easy to grow from seeds (warm germinator) and is a good plant for any rockery (attention when planting the grown seedlings in the garden – they need very good drainage). The seedlings shown are from a previous seed collection I did few years ago.

Anthemis carpatica ssp. pyrethriformis seeds

and the non viable ‘seeds’

Anthemis carpatica ssp. pyrethriformis – non-viable seeds; when shown already separated, it seems easy to distinguish them but actually I had to use a x 40 hand lens to do it!

Another Asteraceae donated to both SRGC and ORG & HP – Jurinea mollis seeds are shown in the featured image.

Two years in a row, instead of seeds I found in the seedex packets just the pappus of a dwarf Jurinea species (from AGS Seedex).
This is how Jurinea seeds look like, with variations depending on the species and the moment when the seeds were collected (the pappus can be reduced in size or it may have fallen out).

Jurinea mollis seeds

Belated Friday’s Seed – a gift

Another belated Friday’s seeds and talk about a gift; the kind I like the most: plants and seeds :)

My Disporum uniflorum (syn. D. flavens) despite a vigorous growth had never set more than 3 seeds, just a lot of empty fruits. Obviously something’s wrong with pollination; in most cases another plant (different clone) placed nearby will do the trick. So, I am very happy I obtained one, plus some seeds !!! Next year we can hope for more.

Let’s have a look at them:

Disporum uniflorum seeds

And a picture from a few years ago, before I dug it up and divide it (shared with friends and took one with me at the new garden). It is an absolutely gorgeous plant (like all Disporums); in the fall the foliage turns yellow and contrast beautifully with the dark blue fruits.

 

Disporum uniflorum layered with Epimedium ‘Amber Queen’ and Epimedium lishihchenii –  a May symphony in yellow!

 

 

Friday Seeds & germination requirements for Viburnum species

This fall I collected for the first time fruits of Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf Viburnum) and Viburnum rafinesquianum (downy arrow-wood Viburnum).

Surely, I was curious to see how the ‘seeds’ (endocarp + seed) are looking but how about their germination?
There are contradictory statements on the web; some say they first need a cold stratification, others say warm. It’s good to clarify this because I like to provide reliable info.

So, back to the books ;)

Viburnum acerifolium pits (endocarp+ seed)

Viburnum rafinesquianum pits

I like Baskin & Baskin: Seeds – Ecology, Biogeography, and Evolution of Dormancy and Germination (2014) because besides giving results from their own experiments, there are citations of hundreds of other articles on germination (of course, in some cases things are not always clear).

And, the warm stratification is the winner!
These Viburnum spp. have deep simple epicotyl morphophysiological dormancy and the germination requirements are: warm/moist stratification period, followed by a cold/moist period.
In translation, if sown in the summer they will show up the next spring; otherwise they will germinate in the second spring after sowing.

On the same list are many other Viburnum species like: alnifolium, betulifolium, cassinoides, dentatum, dilatatum, lentago, opulus, parvifolium, prunifolium….Those who don’t have access to the book can read here a very short but conclusive summary regarding Viburnum acerifolium germination:
http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1674/0003-0031%282005%29153%5B0232%3AEDIVAC%5D2.0.CO%3B2

Also another summary here:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267996605_Overview_of_seed_dormancy_in_Viburnum_Caprifoliaceae

Here they go!

Trillium grandiflorum seeds are just beginning to germinate! As well is Paris quadrifolia; I noticed the first signs last Saturday (with my x40 lens).

I snapped a few pictures when I was packing some today; they are advanced enough to be noticeable even if the pictures are not great.

Trillium grandiflorum seeds starting to germinate

 

Paris quadrifolia seeds barely showing the radicle

No matter what someone else says/writes, this is happening every year.

For these species, moist stored seeds kept at warm will always start to germinate around this time (roots only).
From all T. grandiflorum seeds, 70-80% will germinate now (roots) and then show the first leaves in the spring after a period of cold stratification. The rest will need a cold/warm cycle to go through the same cycle.

Paris quadrifolia seeds were also tested two years ago and at that time they all germinated by November (this year I only got few and were promised to someone).

On short, hurry up if you think about Trillium grandiflorum; right now I can select and send seeds that are just about to germinate (they are enlarged and lighter in colour – see the feature image).

 

 

October Newsletter

October arrived in Southern Ontario with the first night below zero temperature. It is not unusual and none of the perennials were damaged. Back to sunshine with 25° C today!

However, the more than unusual heat wave that blessed us at the end of September made it necessary to spend all afternoons watering the newly planted and the seedlings; watering with the hose gives one plenty of time for meditation….

Looking more closely I noticed that Centaurea salonitana was flowering leaning on a nearby Salvia! Quite exciting because this Centaurea has a pontic, sub-mediterreanean distribution: SE Romania (Dobrogea), Bulgaria, Greece to Russian (Crimea) where it grows in xeric habitats.  A nice addition to my ‘thistle-like’ plants collection and a consolation for losing Jurinea sordida after heavy rains this spring.

Centaurea salonitana

Another perennial not bothered by the high/low temperatures is  the truly ‘perpetually flowering’ Pseudofumaria lutea (Corydalis lutea); still going strong and it will do so until the first hard frost arrives (please ignore the word ‘ hard frost’). For those in love with Corydalis, nothing is much easier and satisfying than growing Psedofumaria species, formerly part of Corydalis. They will reseed around but is very easy to remove the ‘unwanted’.

A Pseudofumaria alba seedling of this year, also decided suddenly its time has come and started flowering.

Pseudofumaria lutea flowering right now

Scabiosa caucasica ‘Fama’ deserves a special note in this edition. First, I would like to announce for those who don’t already know that Snow White has been found — it was right under my nose (for explanation please read: Where’s the Snow White?).

Thanks to my bad habit of planting seedlings in bunches, the blue and white flowered varieties, ‘Fama Blue’ and ‘Fama White’ were mixed together in the same clump; last year only the blue variety flowered, and not in the deep blue shade of ‘Fama Blue’. The light bluish/lavender obtained in many cases are characteristic of the species (Scabiosa caucasica).

Regardless of the colour, after seeing it performing in my garden, I say Scabiosa caucasica is a truly outstanding perennial for many reasons. Most important, the extremely long flowering period (well into November and December!). Also, very easy to grow from seeds.

Scabiosa caucasica ‘Fama’ – December 10, 2016

Many thanks to Robert Pavlis for providing the initial seeds from Scabiosa caucasica ‘Fama White’ and ‘Fama Blue’.  They are offered now simply as ‘Fama’.

Scabiosa caucasica ‘Fama’

Scabiosa caucasica seeds heads

SAD NEWS

Under Sad news, the end of September has marked the passing of Prof. Norman C. Deno.
Well known for his work on deciphering the seed’s secrets and his widely available book “Seed germination, theory and practice”, which is still used as a reference by gardeners, growers and researchers, all over the world. You can read the obituary posted on the NARGS website.
He will be remembered.

SEEDS TALKING

The seed stock has been refreshed for many species; new ones have been added, and more are still to come. I think Amphicarpaea, Symplocarpus (skunk cabbage) and few more will be ready to collect soon (fingers crossed for Gentiana andrewsii).

Newly added to Canada 150 Celebration Sale category in September was Spigelia marilandica. I am happy that thanks to a patient friend there are more seeds available of this woodland gem. It is not the sort of perennial that flowers and increases much in the first couple of years, but it is worth the wait. In the picture is a 2 year-old plant re-flowering in my garden right now. Alas, the hummingbirds are gone…

Spigelia marilandica, Indian pink

 

It’s not easy to add new native species to the list when not traveling outside Ontario, so I was pleased to find and collect a few from Chamaedaphne calyculata (leatherleaf) and Rhododendron groenlandicum (syn. Ledum, Bog Labrador tea). I hope someone will give them a try. You don’t really have to slog into a bog to find the Bog labrador tea, so there are more opportunities to grow it in the garden.

Chamaedaphne calyculata

Rhododendron groenlandicum

Those interested may also like to know that Lindera benzoin (northern spicebush) and Prosartes lanuginosa moist packed seeds are now available. The nr. seeds/pck. has been increased for Lindera, giving a better chance to obtain a good ratio of female/male plants.

My Lindera seedlings have put up quite a nice growth in their first year; ready to be planted in the garden! A few will be shared, I don’t need that many. Keep in mind when choosing the pot size for sowing, that you can count on 99% germination (moist stored seeds).

Lindera benzoin one-year old seedlings

The ‘babies’ Prosartes were excused not being very photogenic at this time (slugs attack).

SEEDS EXCHANGES

Saying goes that people don’t like reading long posts on blogs, so I should better end; just few more lines about the Seed exchanges (on short Seedex).

October is the time to donate seeds to the exchanges organized by various plant societies. This much anticipated event is in the benefit of the Societies and their members alike, so please think about sharing some seeds (of properly identified species). I presume that those reading this newsletter already belong to a Society or two, but if you need ideas I recommend the ones where I donate (click for the links):
Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plants Society
and the larger than life – Scottish Rock Garden Society
Details about the Seedex can be found on their websites.

I will tell you a secret – it is not just about the few seeds that arrive in small packets. At a time when I had absolutely no possibilities to grow plants from seeds, I used to browse the Seedex lists just for the delight of seeing what species were offered.  I’m sure others did/do the same thinking: Oh! I hope to grow that one day or, I used to grow it, how nice it was…

Yes, plant geeks engage in weird readings ;) I hope these Seedex lists will always be available for those in need, either for sowing or the read!

My best regards and many thanks to all – enjoy the beauty of fall!
Gabriela

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…