'viable' seed

Anne Chambers annechambers at SUILVEN0.DEMON.CO.UK
Sat Sep 23 21:59:04 CEST 2000

In message <48.b3df7dc.26fe5e1e at aol.com>, TomEJ at AOL.COM writes
>In a message dated 9/23/00 9:14:03 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
>annechambers at SUILVEN0.DEMON.CO.UK writes:
><< Meantime, I'm still waiting impatiently in a very wet autumn for A.
> consanguineum seedheads to turn red. All the rest are gathered, I
> thought it was going to be a good seed set this year but in the end not
> many heads had viable seed, unfortunately. >>
>Anne, how do you tell if seed is "viable"? I assume there are ways other than
>planting it?
>Tom Jacobs
>Hopewell Junction, NY

Well, I'm no expert and I'm sure Ray will put in his tuppenceworth if he
thinks I'm off the mark (please, Ray!), but generally I find it's fairly
obvious. When you pick the seedhead and start to open the individual
berries, if they contain viable seed, each seed is a good size. Berries
may vary in the number of seeds contained but usually the seed size is
consistent - maybe 3 to 4 mm in diameter for larger species like
consanguineum. If the seed is not viable, the berries are usually
smaller and when you squash them, all you get is a tiny undeveloped
'seed'. Some seedheads this year were a mix - but again it's obvious,
the berries with viable seed were shiny and fat whereas adjacent berries
were small and starting to shrivel.

One species I do have a problem with is A. jacquemontii since its seed
has always been much smaller than others I grow - not more than about 1
mm diam. and I still don't know if it is viable. I sent it to Craig last
year on the basis that he could compare it with the other jacquemontii
contributions he received and ditch it if he didn't like the look of it.
But I'd really welcome his comment on this if he could spare the time.

Anne Chambers

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