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Borassus flaberfilla Germination

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I visited Darwin’s George Brown Botanical Garden back in July this year and was happy to stumble across some Borassus flaberfilla seeds in various stages of germination. I asked one of the gardeners if I could grab some of the seeds and he said it was okay as they would just have to be disposed of later.

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I put the seeds in some large pots and also tried some medium size pots with two smaller size bags stacked on top to get some extra height for the long sinkers.

Yesterday I cut the bags away and supported the seed at the original height, so now its wait and hopefully see......

 

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The bigger pots were 600mm deep but the roots and basal had coiled around the base of some of the pots and actually popped thru one of the drain holes.

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I relocated the basals closer to the top of the pot.

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That's quite a project - impressive roots!  Those seeds are fairly large but the photos I've seen of Borassus flabellifer fruits are massive like the size of coconut.  It'll be interesting to see how they progress for you - I wish you success!

Jon

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I thought this species needed pots twice the depth of bismarckia ~28" deep for the tap root.  My bismarckia get really close to bottoming out in 14" pots. 

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On 9/13/2017, 11:25:49, Fusca said:

That's quite a project - impressive roots!  Those seeds are fairly large but the photos I've seen of Borassus flabellifer fruits are massive like the size of coconut.  It'll be interesting to see how they progress for you - I wish you success!

Jon

Hi Jon, yes the Borassus fruit is big but that is the size of the seed, this is my second attempt to germinate Borassus seeds.......two years ago I bought two Borassus seeds and lost both to Japanese grub worms which ate all the roots. The seed was from a different source but similar in size to the current seeds I am germinating.

There does seem to be some variability in seed size as show in the below photo.

Photo courtesy of The Palm Nut Pages.

 

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I guess those fruits in your photo have shriveled up some but after taking another look I can see now that they are pretty big.  Pretty nice that the seeds were already germinating in the fruit and you didn't have to clean them - do they germinate pretty easily?  Looks like a challenge to keep the seeds propped up like that.  Hopefully you can keep the grubs off of the roots.

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12 hours ago, TexasColdHardyPalms said:

I thought this species needed pots twice the depth of bismarckia ~28" deep for the tap root.  My bismarckia get really close to bottoming out in 14" pots. 

Hi Texas, I got a little carried away when I did my first germination two years ago and used PVC electrical conduit, cut in half to a length of 30" and wired together.  After germination I planted the sinkers in bigger pots, which were then eaten by the grub worms.....ouch!!

This time around I decided to just put the seeds in pots which I thought were deep enough and as it turned out all but one were ok for depth.  I was amazed at the growth of the sinker for just 8 weeks, which was much faster then my previous germination of Borassus seeds.......probably due to being put down in the middle of the Philippine rainy season with plenty of water, heat and humidity.

If you look at the above photo of the three red pots, behind these are Bismarckia's which are either in 12" or 14" bags but only filled to 10" to 12" of soil. I remember reading a Jeff Searle post where he would germinate Bismarckia seeds in bags/pots (maybe deeper than what I have used?) and left them outside in full sun. I did the same thing for my Bismarckia and achieved around 80% germination. I followed the same strategy for the the Borassus seeds but obviously with deeper pots.

 

 

 

 

 

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19 minutes ago, Fusca said:

I guess those fruits in your photo have shriveled up some but after taking another look I can see now that they are pretty big.  Pretty nice that the seeds were already germinating in the fruit and you didn't have to clean them - do they germinate pretty easily?  Looks like a challenge to keep the seeds propped up like that.  Hopefully you can keep the grubs off of the roots.

Yes, a lot of the fruit had rotted away and the seeds had just germinated on the ground under half rotted away outer fruit, so it was a real surprise to find these seeds. Fresh seeds germinate quickly in 30 to 60 days, I have a couple of seeds that I collected that had not germinated on the ground which I will put down in the next couple of weeks, so will see how they go. 

The only reason I raised the whole sinker was to bring it away from the bottom of the pot as there could be a risk of rotting. For the smaller pots I just cut away the plastic bags and did not disturb the radicle. A bit of split bamboo seemed good enough to prop up the seed!

Yesterday, I checked out all the seeds and was surprised to see the scale leaf (spike) poking through the cotyledon sheath on one of the seeds, note the hairs on the top which apparently assists the scale leaf travel up the cavity. This is uncharted territory for me and I do have a concern with the spike being exposed to the elements, more so the full sun than the rain, so if anyone has any advice, i'm all ears.

 

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Congratulations!  I wasn't expecting to see the plumule appear so far down.  I'm interested to see what others have to say, but I'd be concerned about the sun (as you are) and try to move it into shade at some point.  At least you've got high humidity and that has got to be in your favor.

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