viability in fleshy amaryllid seeds

Paul Tyerman
Fri, 10 Oct 2003 19:29:57 PDT
At 09:12  10/10/03 -0700, you wrote:
>Dear All,
>Dell tells me that 30+ people asked for the Brunsvigia grandiflora seeds 
>from Rhoda and Cameron. I think this is a splendid opportunity to document 
>how long Amaryllid seed can remain viable and still produce bulbs.

Mary Sue et al,

If they are anything like Haemanthus (I have never tested this with
Brunsvigia) then some of them can germinate and live for months without
ever being planted.....

How do I know, well OK... Confession time <grin>.  A couple of years aback
I availabled myself of some Haemanthus albiflos seed frm the IBS BX,
received them and they <cough>, erm.. got lost for a while.  3 months later
I found them.  All 4 had germinated in the packet and formed tiny bulbs
with a somewhat sickly looking short yellow leaf on the top.  I think the
leaf had started, realised it wasn't going to happen and then stopped
itself until ligth etc was available.  The bulb was a little larger than
the original seed, despite the fact that there was no light at all
available to the seed when it germinated.  I carefully planted these tiny
bulbs at ground level and they grew happily. It was a real surprise to me!!

Interesting that this discussion arose now.  A while back I wrote on one of
hte lists about how I had removed a seed head from a Haemanthus albiflos
after hearing that virus could possibly be transferred via pollen (I had of
course been madly pollinating this particular plant with one that i had
just learned was virused).  I put the flower head in a vase to enjoy the
flowers for a while and then left it there as there looked to be some
activity.  It survived many months and produced happily viable seeds which
I harvested about 6 weeks ago (one of the berries contained a seed which
already had a 1cm radical still WITHIN the berry before harvesting!!).
There were still some small berries on the head to I left it just in case.  

This morning I went to throw it out and thought I'd check the berries just
to be sure.  2 of the berries had tiny leaves poking out of their shriveled
remains so I harvested about 8 or 9 tiny berries which were still on there.
 Every one of these contained a viable seed, all of which were producing
radicals of some description.  The couple which had leaves poking out had
no actual seed remaining, but instead had used the seed to produce a small
bulb in a similar way to what I outlined happened to me a few years ago in
the packet.  These tiny bulbs had healthy green leaf on top and I'll be
planting them this afternoon.  All the others will be similarly planted and
I expect all of them will quite happily produce bulbs and grow successfully

I have no idea whether this applies to Brunsvigia or not, but certainly
never give up until the seed is gone and rotted.  It was just so cool
finding them already germinating before even being picked.  I am rather
glad I checked before I threw the old head out <grin>.

Anyway, I thought this might interest some of you.  I also seem to recall
one of the South African suppliers (Rachel, Rhoda?) saying that they find
that seed germinated much better if left in a warm dark cupboard rather
than being sown.  I have certainly found that fresh seed that is sown
immediately may sit for a number of weeks before it does anything (in this
case anything may be germinate, or rot!) whereas the same seed kept in an
envelope will germinate within a week or two and be WELL ahead of anything
from the pot as it will have weeks more to produce food and bulb before it
goes dormant. Since I heard that others felt this way I have kept all of my
fleshy amaryllid seeds in an envelope until they start germinating, then I
sow them.  This has included belladonnas, Nerines, Haemanthus etc.  It
really does produce SO much better germination I have found.


Paul Tyerman
Canberra, Australia.  USDA equivalent - Zone 8/9

Growing.... Galanthus, Erythroniums, Fritillarias, Cyclamen, Crocus,
Cyrtanthus, Oxalis, Liliums, Hellebores, Aroids, Irises plus just about
anything else that doesn't move!!!!!

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