Questions about seeds from hot and dry summer areas

Rodger Whitlock
Sat, 21 Jun 2003 01:41:41 PDT
On 18 Jun 03 at 11:20, John Lonsdale wrote:

> Can anyone please tell me whether seeds which are dispersed from
> geophytes which are native to areas which are hot and dry in the
> summer (and therefore summer dormant) will get dry in the summer?

You may be forgetting that seeds do not necessarily sit on the 
surface of the soil, but often fall into cracks in the soil where 
there is shade and slighly higher humidity.

Also, compared with seeds in a pot, seeds in the ground experience 
much more stability in their environment. The unstable environment in 
your usual plastic pot is one of the strongest arguments for terra 
cotta pots plunged in a sand bed.

> ...what about western erythroniums?

Pay attention to their ecology. The most common erythroniums on 
Vancouver Island are E. revolutum and E. oregonum. Even though I can 
show you where these species grow within a hundred feet or so of each 
other, they have quite distinct ecological preferences.

E. revolutum enjoys conditions where the soil is moist year round. 
Along Sutton Creek, many stands are probably flooded during the 

E. oregonum otoh (on the other hand) enjoys conditions where the soil 
goes bone dry in summer. It doesn't need baking and will do fine in 
conditions of fairly deep shade, but it has to have that summer 

In my garden, where summer water is the exception, E. oregonum does 
better than E. revolutum, but the latter survives and flowers in a 
reasonable way.

Two other species of erythronium grow on southern Vancouver Island: 
E. montanum and E. grandiflorum. However, both grow at some altitude 
and the local population of E. grandiflorum is restricted to a steep 
north face on one low mountain. Neither of these is a success in the 
garden; the most likely reason for the failure is lack of adequate 
winter chilling.

> Whatever Mother Nature does has to be right, doesn't it?

Not necessarily. Seed sown in a pot gives a much higher germination 
rate than the same seed scattered in the bushes. Fewer critters to 
eat it, more fertile soil, generally more congenial conditions.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate

on beautiful Vancouver Island

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