Lily family seeds
Mon, 13 Jul 2009 09:46:16 PDT
Kathleen Sayce and Fred Biasella asked how you can distinguish viable seed of 
liliaceous plants such as Lilium, Fritillaria, and Tulipa.

It's quite easy. The viable seed in this family invariably has "a tiny straight 
dark line" (as Kathleen Sayce put it) visible if viewed by transmitted light.

The dark line is the embryo, the larger, ever so slightly thick area 
surrounding the embryo is the endosperm, and the papery margin of the seed is 
simply the seed coat.

To a reasonable extent, you can remove the sterile seeds by the time honored 
method of winnowing, using your breath or a good breeze outside to blow away 
the lighter, sterile seeds. But for donations to seed exchanges where it's 
important to aim for the highest possible quality, you will still have to pick 
over the residue by hand, removing all seeds which lack a visible embryo or 
which are malformed.

Some kind of backlit surface or a small light table, and a good pair of reading 
glasses can make this hand picking a lot easier.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate
on beautiful Vancouver Island…

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