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John in Andalucia

"Tickling the embryo"

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John in Andalucia

I discovered this technique by chance with a supermarket coconut whilst probing the embryo with a scalpel. I accidentally nicked the embryo after opening the pore, and the coconut began to sprout a couple of days later.

That was over a year ago. I thought nothing more of it until recently, whilst pondering the 70 or so Lemurophoenix seeds I have in a germination box. These seeds are the best of the best (I had 100 seeds and 20 went bad early on). After nearly 5 months, just 6 have started to germinate, and are moving very, very slowly. So I decided to take one for examination, shaved a flat spot over the embryo area, and exposed the embryo. Again, I nicked it just very slightly, and as previously, it began to germinate after a couple of days.

Is this something others have tried? I'm tempted to take several more seeds at random and repeat the experiment. These are notoriously slow germinating seeds, and none have popped in the last 6 weeks. Would it be something if I could repeat the same results?

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PalmatierMeg

John, sounds intriguing. But could you post step-by-step photos of the procedure so we can see what "nicking" and "tickling" are in regard to palms? Try it on another coconut for better visuals and less risk to a rarer palm.

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PalmGuyWC

John,

This is very interesting. I'm sure others will be trying this technique, but I'm wondering if this works on fresh seeds or seeds in the process of germinating. After you nick the seed, do you place it back in the germinating medium?

Dick

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Trópico

Yes I have tried it. I have germinated Roystonea borinquena, Cocos, Attalea, Syagrus botryophora (removed the endocarp), Kentiopsis, as far as I remember, using this technique. I discovered it a few years ago while getting impatient with some Roystonea seeds I brought back from Puerto Rico. I exposed the embryo but did not "nick" it and germination took only a couple of hours. I call it de-lidding the seed or exposing the embryo, or simply like opening a beer can.

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PersistentPalms

Maybe with Pelagodoxa? Im loosing my cool with these... 100 seeds and in a year half turned to mush and only 1 has popped... I've thought about lifting the lid on these... I wonder if it's necessary to scar the delicate white stuff inside?

Even more important did you nick all your Lemurs?

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freakypalmguy

Sounds a lot like the technique the cycad people are using on seeds, they call it "scarification". I have read that this produces a very positive results.

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_Keith
Sounds a lot like the technique the cycad people are using on seeds, they call it "scarification". I have read that this produces a very positive results.

I think scarification is nicking the seed coat to allow for the permeation of water, whereas this is slightly injuring the embryo itself, which would also make it different than delidding as well. Interesting to see where this goes.

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Lowey

You might have somthing there, I might test it out on a few different kinds of seeds.

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Lowey

You might have somthing there, I might test it out on a few different kinds of seeds.

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John in Andalucia
John, sounds intriguing. But could you post step-by-step photos of the procedure so we can see what "nicking" and "tickling" are in regard to palms? Try it on another coconut for better visuals and less risk to a rarer palm.

Meg, experimenting with Lemurophoenix seeds (since I have a good few of them) will hopefully be more revealing of this technique. Lemur Palm seeds are notoriously slow to germinate, with periods of dormancy, so if the seeds I experiment with respond, whilst the rest remain dormant, it should be near enough proof positive. It's because of their rarity, and because they are slow and difficult, that I want to try this experiment. I'd need a small room full of coconuts to obtain the exact same results, and coconuts aren't that difficult to germinate.

The Experiment

I selected 5 seeds at random, from a box of 60 that were already 5 months stored under the correct germination conditions. I'm using moist vermiculite in a plastic box with a loose fitting lid, applying a temperature range of 34°C (day) to 25°C (night) (93F-77F). It's difficult to show a photo of me scraping away the endocarp. Suffice to say, you hold the seed in one hand, the knife in the other, and you work close to your chest, so as not to slip with the knife.* Lemurophoenix seeds don't have a defined "lid" like some other palm seeds, so cut away thin layers around the embryo area, rotating the seed as you cut through the endocarp. With practice, the endocarp material covering the embryo will flake off as you cut through to the endosperm.

*(With your knife hand, steady the seed with your thumb in between your chest and the seed, and cut from the opposite side of the seed towards you, through the endocarp, using a technique similar to peeling a potato. With your thumb on one side of the seed, and your arms pressed into your chest, it is near impossible to lose control of the blade this way.)

The "nicking" was done by cutting a crescent shape into the tip of the embryo, no bigger than 1mm in length and only just into the surface, at an angle of 30° or less. I cannot be 100% sure that in removing the endocarp, that I didn't hit more of the seed embryos with the blade by accident, but nevertheless, I "nicked" 2 of the 5 seeds purposely, as described. They may all start to germinate, in which case the "de-lidding" technique, which a few people have already had success with, will mean that Lemurophoenix seeds are just another candidate, but if the 2 "X" seeds should sprout first, it may prove useful. Palm seeds that can take up to a year or longer to germinate, might only be missing the correct combination of temperature range and moisture levels, during which time the embryo may be losing its viability.

Close-up of the exposed embryos..

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Here are all 5 seeds in a separate box, to ensure that moisture and heat levels remain consistent for each..

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Finally, and most importantly, they go back into the main box with the remaining 55 seeds from whence they came.

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Maybe with Pelagodoxa? Im loosing my cool with these... 100 seeds and in a year half turned to mush and only 1 has popped... I've thought about lifting the lid on these... I wonder if it's necessary to scar the delicate white stuff inside?

Even more important did you nick all your Lemurs?

Bill - I'm only trying these 5 seeds, but if it's a success, I may do them all. BTW, I have some Pelagadoxa seeds left over that are probably past germinating, so I will do some probing for you. After a year though, you should have had all that are going to sprout.

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Gonzer

I've heard that due to the injury to the embryo, nutrients are rushed to the area to ensure healing, thus stimulating the onset of germination.

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PersistentPalms

At lunch today, I'm cuttin' some P henrys...

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John in Andalucia
At lunch today, I'm cuttin' some P henrys...

Me too!

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John in Andalucia

Bill - funny, out of six P. henryana that didn't germinate, one was rotten, one was old and yellow, and 3 didn't have an embryo. :huh: I hope you didn't buy a load of duffs!

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AJQ

John it may be worth trying with easier to come by seeds such as Butia capitata, which are also very difficult to germinate.

Regards Andy.

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John in Andalucia
John it may be worth trying with easier to come by seeds such as Butia capitata, which are also very difficult to germinate.

Regards Andy.

Thanks Andy, but these are the only seeds I currently have in any quantity, and I want to grow the buggers next Spring! I can tell you, that the 5 seeds from my experiment this morning are already moving. If the embryos fall out, and Lemurophoenix seeds are known to throw embryos, then I may not continue. If the embryos fatten up after a couple of weeks, then there's no reason suggest that it's a bad practice.

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PalmGuyWC

If he has time, I'll see if I can get Patrick Schafer to try this technique on some of his hybrid seeds. Some of his hybrids germinate in 3 weeks, and others take months or over a year. I was thinking Parajubaea seeds might be a good subject since they can sometime take years to germinate.

Dick

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John in Andalucia
If he has time, I'll see if I can get Patrick Schafer to try this technique on some of his hybrid seeds. Some of his hybrids germinate in 3 weeks, and others take months or over a year. I was thinking Parajubaea seeds might be a good subject since they can sometime take years to germinate.

Dick

Dick, I have a few Jubaea and Corphya seeds I might also try. Both are equally slow.

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PersistentPalms

John, I think when you get to 4000 posts we're gonna label you Seed Butcher! :lol:

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PersistentPalms

Ok, I'm agravated... Out of my remaining seeds only 3 weren't mush. :angry::rage: And they don't even look so good!

I lifter the lids on them and "tickled" (read, injured) the two shriveled up embryos... Hopefully John's idea is right and they will spring to life. The most plump of the 3 I just sliced off the lid and a very thin layer of the embryonic material. Hopefull I didn't cut anything too important and it'll grow also... All seeds were placed buried 80% in a compot with moist media. FINGERS CROSSED!

The seeds after preparation in order of worst to best.

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John in Andalucia

Bill, embryos wake up - they don't come back to life. Sorry to be so blunt! :o

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PersistentPalms

:lol: I've seen plants do some amazing stuff... Ya just never know!

#1 ok probably too far gone

#2 still had some firmness to it, no vote...

#3 plausible.

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PalmGuyWC

Bill,

It looks like you did an excellent surgery. Those embryos sure look shriviled, so we all will be waiting on the results. Great photos too.

Dick

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Trópico

Please do not tickle the embryo, as it may invite bugs searching for a meal, fungus attacks, or outright kill it (I accidentally did it to a coconut and lost it, and almost lost a second one). Just exposing the embryo will do the job.

Edited by Trópico

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John in Andalucia
Please do not tickle the embryo, as it may invite bugs searching for a meal, fungus attacks, or outright kill it (I accidentally did it to a coconut and lost it, and almost lost a second one). Just exposing the embryo will do the job.

Frank, you are absolutely right. The 5 Lemurophoenix seeds I "de-lidded" are all germinating. Photo later. :drool:

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Pivi

John it sound very interesting.

If you succeed in your test i'll do the same with some of hedyscepe seeds :rolleyes:

Ups i didn't see your post before mine. So test is successful?

I'll do the same with heddys then :drool:

Edited by Pivi

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John in Andalucia

So let's recap..

Yesterday...

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30 hours later.. B)

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None of the other 55 seeds have stirred in 5 months, so this is quite something, IMO. Lemurophoenix seeds being made to germinate.

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Pivi

John you are genius! Bravo :lol:

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Succulentum

same batch, same conditions... heat, hygrometry, insulation, light, medium...if the rest of the batch don't sprout in the few days, I would like to

post-552-1258047201_thumb.gifpost-552-1258047201_thumb.gif you.

jean-bernard

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PalmGuyWC

John,

That's quite incredable. You conducted the experiment very scientifically too, very controlled. I'm surprised they germinated so fast. I imagine there will be a lot of digging out of old seeds now by others. Bravo!!!

If anyone trys Parajubaea seeds, let us know the results.

Dick

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richnorm

John,

You are a mine of useful information on palm seed germination. Many thanks for sharing!

cheers

Richard

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John in Andalucia

Thanks for everyone's appreciation! It may not work for all palm seeds, but it's certainly worth bearing in mind. I've added a Corypha macropoda seed to the experiment, since I had about 20 of these from Kris last year, and only one of them has sprouted so far.

Updates to follow in due course!

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FRITO

John, nice work, will be following this experiment. Let me know about the Corypha macropoda , I have some from Kris also from lastyear still 'sleeping'

I have a friend who completely cut a coconut in half and then duct taped it back together and it germinated!

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Alicehunter2000

I've only had 1 of Kris' seeds germinate as well....please follow up to let us know if it works. BTW does it matter which side you tickle? For instance, I have some Syrgus "Abreojos" seeds .....would I de-lid the side with the eyes?

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MattyB

Very interesting stuff!!!!!

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John in Andalucia
I've only had 1 of Kris' seeds germinate as well....please follow up to let us know if it works. BTW does it matter which side you tickle? For instance, I have some Syrgus "Abreojos" seeds .....would I de-lid the side with the eyes?

David, I'm not sure. Seeds with a solid mesocarp and with deep pores would be unworkable. Syagrus seeds are fairly tamper-proof. Here's a scan I made last year of a Syagrus romanzoffiana seed in cross-section. If most Syagrus seeds are the same, you'll have a job getting near the embryo without damaging it.

post-1155-1258063767_thumb.jpg

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Alicehunter2000

I have a bench grinder :evil:

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PalmGuyWC

I was thinking a bench grinder might be useful, but you would have to be carefull not to over heat the embryo.

Dick

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John in Andalucia
I was thinking a bench grinder might be useful, but you would have to be carefull not to over heat the embryo.

Dick

I would recommend a Dremel hobby drill with all the attachments, and a jewellers eyeglass!

BTW, the Corphya embryo has moved a fraction. Too early to say yet if it's actually germinating or whether it's just heat expansion. Should know in a couple more days.

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Palmə häl′ik

Hmm.

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