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.


Morina longifolia

Moving forward with non- Asteraceae thistle-like plants, more precisely with Morina longifolia, simply called Himalayan whorlflower.

With a thick, evergreen rosette of spiny leaves, resembling a Cirsium, this is one plant to scare away all your garden critters! It is said to exude a pleasant citrus/tangerine perfume when bruised (also the flowers). It caught my attention last year at the beginning of August in the wonder garden of Robert Pavlis (Aspen Grove Gardens). Of course that concentrating only on its ‘cool’ foliage makes it hard to notice that Morina actually belongs to fam. Caprifoliaceae. The flowering stems remain impressive even after flowering by retaining the flower calyces, which take on a beautiful rusty- orangey colour. I think this is an overlooked feature of Morina and I am glad I got to see it at this stage. 

Morina longifolia - after flowering

Morina longifolia – aspect after flowering

Of course that the white, tubular flowers which turn pink after fading are also beautiful (the change in colour indicates that they have been pollinated, which is done by moths). They open up in progression, which means an extended flowering period.

Morina longifolia flowering

Morina longifolia starting to flower

Needless to say collecting seeds from such a plant is not an easy task; I personally extracted one seed from the spiny calyx. For the other ones, we all have to say again – thank you :)

Morina longifolia is native to the high Himalayas (regions of Pakistan, Kashmir and Bhutan) but it can be grown very well in Southwestern Ontario, in a full sun, well drained garden location. In its native lands it is also used as an aromatic/medicinal plant.

Propagation: Reported as a warm germinator, but I found discussions saying that sometimes the seed teguments may remain attached to the germinating seeds in the detriment of the seedlings. A period of moist/cold stratification can help with breaking down the hard seed coat; a light scarification or placing the seeds in a moist towel/fridge for a couple of weeks may also work.
The seedlings will resemble those of a thistle, so it is best to tag them early; and don’t think about divisions because it forms a taproot.

One more interesting note one can find surfing the net – the genus Morina was named in honour of Rene Morin, a French nurseryman who, according to various sources, published the world’s first plant catalogue in 1621 – Catalogus plantarum horti Renati Morini.

All that remains now is that we start growing it!