Question about harvesting seed

Jane McGary
Thu, 05 Jan 2012 11:49:46 PST
Nhu mentioned Triteleia and Brodiaea as genera where seed ripens 
after the inflorescence is detached. I notice this particularly with 
the related Dichelostemma, which species have long scapes (main 
stems). By the time the seed is partially ripe, the scape is detached 
from the corm, and the moisture in the above-ground parts seems to be 
sufficient to maintain the plant's energy until the seed is ripe. I 
wonder if this is an adaptation to avoiding browsers. If the stem and 
seedhead are lying flat on the ground, deer would be less likely to 
eat them -- though rodents would be more likely to carry off the 
seeds, which might then have the opportunity of germinating in an 
abandoned rodent cache.

Although few composites are within our purview, I'd note that it's 
possible to harvest what appears to be half-ripe seed from many of 
them, particularly alpine species, and it will ripen to the point of 
viability later.

I have collected both Rhodophiala and Alstroemeria capsules that were 
still greenish, and they ripened in the paper envelopes (don't put 
them in plastic). In fact, you should get the Alstro capsules a bit 
early, because when fully ripe they explode. You can hear them 
popping in their envelopes, and also rosulate Viola will do this, 
making you think you've got a mouse in your room. (Well, considering 
the hotels one is likely to be in after collecting these seeds, you 
probably do have a mouse, if not something worse.)

If you grow Kirengeshoma and want to propagate it from seed, you have 
to plant the seed when it appears to be far from ripe, in late fall, 
when it's soft and moist.

Understanding the life cycles and climate regimes of different plants 
gives us many clues about how to handle their seeds.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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