Lily family seeds

Jim McKenney
Mon, 13 Jul 2009 08:58:39 PDT
Although Fritillaria raddeana has bloomed in this garden four years in
succession, it has never set seed here. And I've never seen seed of this
species. However, if the seed is anything like that of its close relative F.
imperialis or F. persica, I would take into consideration the weight and
thickness of the seed. You probably will not be able to see the embryo in
these opaque seeds. 


Place some of the seed on a sheet of paper, curl the sheet a bit to make a
trough, then blow gently over the seed to remove the chaff. If you are left
with seeds which seem heavy for their size, they are probably viable. 


In the old lily literature there have been reports from persons who sowed
chaff left over from the seed exchanges and got some germination. So in the
case of rare, scarce seed or seed of particularly valuable crosses, sow
everything, chaff included. 


In most lily and tulip seeds, the embryo is plainly evident as a slightly
curved streak up the middle of the seed. But in some cases, the embryo is
not well developed; and macroscopic examination of these seeds will turn up
no evidence of an embryo. Don't throw these away if they are valuable - it
seems that some of them germinate.  


Kathleen, tulips in my experience give very variable results with respect to
seed production. Some, such as Tulipa tarda, produce pods full of seed,
every one with a prominent embryo and presumably fully viable. Hybrid tulips
on the other hand generally produce few normal seeds - pods will develop
normally, but most of the material in the pod is chaff. What you described
(when you gave percentages) sounded to me like the results seen in hybrid
tulips, where often only one or two seeds per pod even look close to normal.
One sometimes sees dark, wet, puffy seed-like structures which, when removed
from the pod and dried, quickly shrivel and dry to a crisp. 


In my experience, those plants which produce pods of normal-looking seed
also produce seed with a very high rate of viability.  


Jim McKenney

Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone

My Virtual Maryland Garden



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