Germinating Rhapidophyllum seeds

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Howdyall!

Got a whole bunch of Rhapidophyllum hystrix seeds from a fellow Palm Talker, and they were planted and how long before they germinate?

This is a cool palm for cold places, and I'm going to try to spread a little Palmy LoveTM to Ohio and beyond.

All thoughts appreciated!

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Dave, I've tried to germinate two batches of fresh seeds. On the first, one germinated in a few months, second one year later. For the second batch I got one germination. All other seeds were bust. So don't be too quick to give up on them. I'm not sure if my experience was the result of my newbie-ness or infertile seeds. I've read these palms seed only sporadically and maybe they germinate only sporadically. That's tough when you try to work with a so-called "relict palm". I hope you have far better luck than I.

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They can take months to germinate. They seem to do better with bottom heat.

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I have planted seeds produced on my needles directly in the ground around my yard, as well and inside with bottom heat.  I had a very few germinate in weeks with bottom heat, and the rest did nothing for months so I gave up.  The others I have planted outside have taken years to germinate.  One fall I popped a bunch in the ground in a mulch ring around a tree, then forgot all about them when they didn't appear the following spring. They went through two winters there before I noticed most of them germinated when a weird ring of evenly spaced single blades of "grass" popped up 20 something months later.    

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I have had good success with alternating bottom heat, 6 hours on (about 40C) and 18 hours off (20-25C, whatever room temperature is at the time).  Crack that outer shell first.  If you have the time, take a sharp knife and remove the embryo cap.  It really does help, especially if the seeds aren't very fresh.  Make sure you're medium is sterile though, as they will rot quickly if not.  Since you didn't provide any details of your setup or procedures, it's hard to give an estimate on germination time.  Could be a while though!  Good luck, and spread that Palmy Love far and wide!  

 

P.S.  I've seen seedlings germinate in the fall/early winter, right at the base of the palm where they fell just a few weeks earlier.  I've got a few hundred freshies sown right now, directly into pots and outside in Florida.  Gonna be starting some year-old seeds inside next week as an experiment.

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8 hours ago, PalmatierMeg said:

I've read these palms seed only sporadically and maybe they germinate only sporadically. That's tough when you try to work with a so-called "relict palm". 

I've seen some populations with females that seed every year, and some that seem to either not flower at all or go years between flowering.  Some seem to take a year off if they seed heavily the previous year.  I have an adult female from Twiggs County, GA that has flowered exactly once in the past eight years!  They have mysterious habits... I could show you a population with well over 100 palms that you won't find one seed in, then another population with only 2 dozen palms just loaded with them.  I know some of their dirty little secrets, lol!

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2 minutes ago, Bigfish said:

I've seen some populations with females that seed every year, and some that seem to either not flower at all or go years between flowering.  Some seem to take a year off if they seed heavily the previous year.  I have an adult female from Twiggs County, GA that has flowered exactly once in the past eight years!  They have mysterious habits... I could show you a population with well over 100 palms that you won't find one seed in, then another population with only 2 dozen palms just loaded with them.  I know some of their dirty little secrets, lol!

Do you know why their seeds have such low germination rates? Any suggestions to improve that rate?

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I'm reading it all

thanks for your responses

 

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 almost 100% of the seeds germinated  and they are germinated in a month
but I have collected seeds  in botanical garden, really very fresh,  in botanical garden there are many plants  of  Rhapidophyllum hystrix, so good pollination, perhaps for this is that I had very high percentage of germination?

 

 

http://www.pacsoa.org.au/wiki/Rhapidophyllum_hystrix

Figure 4

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10 hours ago, PalmatierMeg said:

Do you know why their seeds have such low germination rates? Any suggestions to improve that rate?

In an old study done on Rhapidophyllum seed germination, they achieved over 90% germination when the embryo cap was removed.  

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Much faster to buy a plant & divide it... :o

5 Gal on clearance for $10... Main plant in the ground out front & two suckers to grow out...

2h4dvdx.jpg

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2rz53sw.jpg

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I’ve tried Rhapidophyllum 13 years ago: 2002-12-19 I got 21 seeds from RPS, 3 of them were already rotten, so 18 left. 1st seed germinated 2003-01-03, 6th seed 2003-01-21, that is 30% within one month. Here a photo of the 1st seedling, taken 2006-09-15, 3 years 9 months after germination; the growth here in Germany (mostly outside) was very, very sloooow (at present it is in a zoological garden):

56899005cbcb5_Rhapidophyllumhystrix2006-

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Mine are 10 years in the ground from 5 gal containers.

 

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Beautiful palms, I really need to find a place in my yard for one!

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The needles are brutal, just make sure it's not in a area where kids or animals play.

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The biggest key to germinating them IMO is to crack and remove their outer shell or it'll take too much time to germinate. I just use a regular pair of pliers.

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3 hours ago, NorthFlpalmguy said:

The biggest key to germinating them IMO is to crack and remove their outer shell or it'll take too much time to germinate. I just use a regular pair of pliers.

I agree, unless you never let them dry out even once and plant them immediately after harvesting.  The reason I say this is that I have seen, many times, seedlings growing at the base of palms right where they fell.

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How does stratification affect the seeds of Rhapidophyllum? 

Here's a guide on palm seed germination with some really good information:

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/m/#publication?id=EP238

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23 minutes ago, Brad Mondel said:

How does stratification affect the seeds of Rhapidophyllum? 

It isn't necessary.  Some people have claimed success stratifying seeds, but research has shown that the seeds will germinate with no cold stratification period. 

 

Interestingly, Rhapidophyllum seeds have been shown to not be so "cold hardy", according to one article I read.  If they are still hydrated, extreme cold events can kill the seed.  A dried seed will be able to tolerate much colder conditions.

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Do you have that article link? I'd enjoy reading that. 

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On 1/3/2016, 1:24:27, DoomsDave said:

I'm reading it all

thanks for your responses

 

Get cracking Mr. Keeper of the Doom. Keep them in the warm area of the Greenhouse of Doom.

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Watch out where you plant Needle Palms:  they get bigger than I ever thought they could be.  Also, when the seeds ripen, they smell like vomit.  This is the ordinary way I get into my house.  A couple of weeks ago, it smelled like I had had a fraternity party right outside the door! 

DSC_0015-1.jpg

Needles are native about 45 minutes south of Augusta, GA near Louisville, GA and slightly north of there.  They really love water.  Near Louisville, they are growing in a sloppy seepage area connected to the Ogeechee River.  They also reseed freely on the slopes above the swampy areas.  Something (rat, possum, raccoon) must be moving the seeds around, because they are too heavy and well-protected for most of our birds to take an interest in them.  In places, the original palm has died leaving a fairy-ring of offshoots up to about 7' tall.  Really extraordinary. 

 

Another view of the above entrance.  Taken during the summer.

YardAug20115.jpg

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They'll germinate in around a month if you remove the outer shell and provide high heat (upper 80s F or above).

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7 hours ago, JLeVert said:

Also, when the seeds ripen, they smell like vomit. 

Those are some nice Needles, Joe!  

 

Call me crazy, but I actually like the smell of ripe Rhapidophyllum fruit...:D

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Live & learn... I never grow them from seed, I always take a sawzall & cut pups. Just pulled some of last years seed off one of my palms & cracked the outer shell, sure enough... Dave the seed I sent you were this years seed, so they are much more fresh. Be careful & just wait until you hear a slight crack & then peel the outer shell off. I used channel locks. If you squeeze too hard you'll crush the entire thing.

 

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Edited by Laaz
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On 1/6/2016, 4:00:54, Laaz said:

Live & learn... I never grow them from seed, I always take a sawzall & cut pups. Just pulled some of last years seed off one of my palms & cracked the outer shell, sure enough... Dave the seed I sent you were this years seed, so they are much more fresh. Be careful & just wait until you hear a slight crack & then peel the outer shell off. I used channel locks. If you squeeze too hard you'll crush the entire thing.

 

xkvh1g.jpg

Is the one that is cracked open the proper way to crack them?  Is that what gets them to germinate better?  Did that one grow? 

@DoomsDave

Any word on the ones you planted out?  Have you checked on them?  Just curious. 

Love seeing all of the photos of these palms. These are severely under used palms in the landscape especially further north. These do amazingly well in DC and you just don't see them that often here.  There are maybe 20 or so that I know of in all of DC (in the city) and these could easily be grown nearly everywhere here. 

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No, the one cracked open I crushed. It will not germinate.

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On 1/6/2016, 1:00:54, Laaz said:

Live & learn... I never grow them from seed, I always take a sawzall & cut pups. Just pulled some of last years seed off one of my palms & cracked the outer shell, sure enough... Dave the seed I sent you were this years seed, so they are much more fresh. Be careful & just wait until you hear a slight crack & then peel the outer shell off. I used channel locks. If you squeeze too hard you'll crush the entire thing.

 

xkvh1g.jpg

Thanks

It's been about a year, need to go out and look.

 

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Hate to bump this topic, but do seeds from Needles sink like most palm seeds? Or do they have a tendency to float?

I took what looked like a ripe seed off of my Needle yesterday, removed the “fuzzy” layer and put the seed in the water and it’s floating. I’m guessing it isn’t viable, but I’m not totally sure.

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1 hour ago, cm05 said:

Hate to bump this topic, but do seeds from Needles sink like most palm seeds? Or do they have a tendency to float?

I took what looked like a ripe seed off of my Needle yesterday, removed the “fuzzy” layer and put the seed in the water and it’s floating. I’m guessing it isn’t viable, but I’m not totally sure.

A lot of the ones I had gotten from Hilton Head Island floated but I still got some to germinate, although it was a low germination rate, and the ones that did germinate took forever, but it was worth it! 

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2 hours ago, cm05 said:

Hate to bump this topic, but do seeds from Needles sink like most palm seeds? Or do they have a tendency to float?

I took what looked like a ripe seed off of my Needle yesterday, removed the “fuzzy” layer and put the seed in the water and it’s floating. I’m guessing it isn’t viable, but I’m not totally sure.

Try to crush it with your fingers.  A good seed won’t get crushed, but a bad seed will.  Not to say that all bad seeds can be crushed easily, only that good seeds won’t.  

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I have often thought of buying a whole mess of rhapidophyllum and sabal minor seeds to spread over natural areas around me and my yard.

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16 hours ago, cm05 said:

Hate to bump this topic, but do seeds from Needles sink like most palm seeds? Or do they have a tendency to float?

I took what looked like a ripe seed off of my Needle yesterday, removed the “fuzzy” layer and put the seed in the water and it’s floating. I’m guessing it isn’t viable, but I’m not totally sure.

To add to what I said, I harvest thousands of Rhapidophyllum seeds every year.  I put the fresh, uncleaned seeds in a large tub of water.  Almost invariably, the seeds that float are bad, and can easily be crushed with your fingers.  I'm sure there are a few exceptions, and sometimes you can get a big enough air pocket so the seed can float, but it's rare.  I don't even waste my time with the floaters.  Just skim them off and throw them out.   

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16 hours ago, PalmTreeDude said:

A lot of the ones I had gotten from Hilton Head Island floated but I still got some to germinate, although it was a low germination rate, and the ones that did germinate took forever, but it was worth it! 

It’s good that they weren’t a total waste. As someone used to germinating Washys and Dates I know I’d grow impatient trying to germinate stubborn Needles, if mine all float I’m just gonna throw them in the woods and hope they germinate lol.

15 hours ago, Bigfish said:

Try to crush it with your fingers.  A good seed won’t get crushed, but a bad seed will.  Not to say that all bad seeds can be crushed easily, only that good seeds won’t.  

It crushed, I just went out and plucked additional seeds, the first seed was already dried out and cracked, another was still fresh and fleshy but crushed without much effort, the last seed is rock solid but it’s a floater. There’s still about a dozen seeds left that I haven’t touched, but they’re probably all no good, the palm is a hermaphrodite that seemed mostly male when it flowered (for the first time this year), I imagine something went wrong with the seed formation.

1 hour ago, Bigfish said:

To add to what I said, I harvest thousands of Rhapidophyllum seeds every year.  I put the fresh, uncleaned seeds in a large tub of water.  Almost invariably, the seeds that float are bad, and can easily be crushed with your fingers.  I'm sure there are a few exceptions, and sometimes you can get a big enough air pocket so the seed can float, but it's rare.  I don't even waste my time with the floaters.  Just skim them off and throw them out.   

When do you normally harvest their seeds? Most looked ripe to me, I hope I didn’t get them too early, I’ll probably try the rest in a few weeks. If the rest float I’ll toss them in the woods and let nature take care of it, if they sprout they sprout.

Also, thanks for mentioning your crush method, I probably would’ve planted them all and it would’ve been a waste of time, space, and energy.

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If you throw them in the woods at least put them in a spot you will be able to come back to! 

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23 hours ago, cm05 said:

It’s good that they weren’t a total waste. As someone used to germinating Washys and Dates I know I’d grow impatient trying to germinate stubborn Needles, if mine all float I’m just gonna throw them in the woods and hope they germinate lol.

It crushed, I just went out and plucked additional seeds, the first seed was already dried out and cracked, another was still fresh and fleshy but crushed without much effort, the last seed is rock solid but it’s a floater. There’s still about a dozen seeds left that I haven’t touched, but they’re probably all no good, the palm is a hermaphrodite that seemed mostly male when it flowered (for the first time this year), I imagine something went wrong with the seed formation.

When do you normally harvest their seeds? Most looked ripe to me, I hope I didn’t get them too early, I’ll probably try the rest in a few weeks. If the rest float I’ll toss them in the woods and let nature take care of it, if they sprout they sprout.

Also, thanks for mentioning your crush method, I probably would’ve planted them all and it would’ve been a waste of time, space, and energy.

Needle Palms in the landscape tend to have their seeds ripen a little later than wild palms, for whatever reason.  Wild palms start ripening around the first week of November in some areas, all the way into early December in N. FL.  Needles in the landscape seem to ripen in December, but it varies with individual palms.  The seeds should easily come off of the infructescence when ripe.

Glad I could help.  I skimmed off lots of floaters in the past and tested them.  Almost all of them crushed fairly easily. 

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