Jane McGary
Wed, 31 Jul 2002 20:27:21 PDT
Mary Sue asked, How difficult is it [Merendera] to grow from seed? I 
>understand Colchicum can be a bit of a challenge to germinate without fresh 
>seed. Is this true of Merendera too? Any tips for any of us who might see 
>some in a seed exchange and decide to try?

Yes, it is true of both Colchicum and (if the two are still to be separated
taxonomically) Merendera. Stored seed germinates poorly and may take one or
two years. However, once in a while a batch of seed germinates quite well.
My only tip is "Plant it and wait." I have, however, grown quite a number
of species from seed, some of which have flowered by now.

Note that Colchicum seed is said to be one of the most toxic parts of the
plant, but I would not worry about handling it. I just repotted a lot of
Colchicum corms, however, and I always wear latex gloves while handling
these in quantity. I don't know if the toxin can affect one through the
skin, but better to be on the safe side. (The disposable gloves are also
useful if you grow a lot of hellebores and collect the seed, which can
cause a painful rash. And I carry a pair in my pack in case I need to
collect some nasty kind of seed in the wild. Perhaps I will be able to use
them on Cajophora coronata, which John Watson calls "the legendary stinging

As for climatic adaptability, there are some pretty tender colchicums that
might perform better in mild climates.

Jane McGary
NW Oregon

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