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John in Andalucia

Germinating 'old' palm seeds

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John in Andalucia

(This thread is a continuation of the topic I started here on November 11th 2009.)

It is no mystery that seed germination can be induced, employing a technique known as "de-lidding". This is where the endocarp material covering the embryo is skilfully removed to expose the embryo.

As to why, and when you would attempt to induce germination is up to each individual, but in most cases, this is a very useful technique to employ, where you have seeds that are known to take a long time - perhaps a year or more - to germinate. Perhaps you're just curious to know if your seeds are still viable? Maybe you're fed up, monitoring small batches of seeds over such a long period of time, or worried that the embryos may be losing their viability, as you feed them either too much or too little moisture. Or perhaps like me, you want to induce germination as you head towards winter, so that you can raise a batch of seedlings in spring.

In my first experiment, I de-lidded 54 seeds of Lemurophoenix halleuxii. I started out with 60 seeds. Six of these seeds germinated without my help within the first few weeks of acquiring them, in mid-June 2009, but after nearly 5 months in a controlled environment, not one seed followed. So I began the experiment 8 days ago. Of the 54 seeds I de-lidded, 13 proved to be non-viable. I lost a further 4 seeds having discovered how important it is to guard against fungal attack when using this technique.

Removing the endcocarp material from certain seeds will inevitably expose some of the endosperm around the embryo, and this is where fungus will strike, if you are not vigilant. To avoid this problem do 3 things. Firstly, use a sterile germination medium such as vermiculite or perlite, or if you want to use your regular soil mix, cook it in the microwave first, to kill off any resident bacteria. Secondly, move your seeds after 24 hours to a different box. A change of substrate and "new air" seems to help. Thirdly, do not bury the embryo. Keep it above the surface of your germination mix, and mist your seeds at least twice a day. You can further prevent a fungal attack by using fresh water in a hand-mister, to "jet wash" the embryo close-up, from just an inch or a couple of cm away, when you move your seeds to a different box. So that's it. Some species can be de-lidded easily, without inadvertently exposing the endosperm around the embryo, in which case, these seeds can be germinated as normal, without the need for regular intervention.

Here are my 3 case studies. Others are also posting their experiences here, using the same technique, so please feel free to document your results.

Case #1 - Lemurophoenix halleuxii

All viable seeds de-lidded 3 days ago are continuing to grow healthily. Visible embryo growth started in less than 30 hours! One seed remains intact to see if and when it germinates on its own.

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Case #2 - Corphya utan /macropoda

These seeds were a gift from Kris, I think more than a year ago. Only one seed germinated earlier this summer, so they were an ideal candidate. Photo A - 8 out of 10 seeds were viable after more than a year, and embryo growth was observed after 72 hours. After 5 days, the most vigorous seeds are getting ready to throw down a root! Photo B - labelled by Kris as Corypha macropoda although I understand this to be a synonym of Corypha utan. Still, they are most likely from a different tree, so they are being kept apart. These seeds were de-lidded 3 days ago, and 6 out of 7 seeds were found to be viable.

A.post-1155-1258634824_thumb.jpgB.post-1155-1258634840_thumb.jpg

Case #3 - Jubaea chilensis

These seeds were left over from a batch germinated last year, and after first removing the mesocarp, 3 out of 5 were found to be viable. Embryo growth was visible after 48 hours.

post-1155-1258635354_thumb.jpg

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Davidl

I would love to see pics and instructions to learn myself how to do that. Thanks for posting.

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John in Andalucia
I would love to see pics and instructions to learn myself how to do that. Thanks for posting.

Thanks, David. Working alone, it's difficult to take photos of the de-lidding process, but I will try and do a video clip, and also post a few still images from it.

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Pivi

Oh yes, it's moving!

7 days ago and today.

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Edited by Pivi

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Burgal

John, have you used fungicide in the experiment?

Thanks

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palmsOrl

Interesting, I might have to try that. Recently, I broke down and decided to try giberellic acid on some more unusual seeds (Areca minuta and Cyrtostachys loriae). I soaked them for a day then re-sowed them a week ago. I will keep everybody posted on how that goes. It may lead to "stretched" seedlings, but a stetched seedling is better than no seedling! Besides, I would assume a stretched seedling would grow out of this condition eventually.

-Michael

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John in Andalucia
John, have you used fungicide in the experiment?

Thanks

Juan, no fungicides were used. My belief is that the fungus spores attacking the freshly exposed endosperm and the embryonic material, are "overpowered" once the embryo starts to grow. I say this, because the seeds attacked so far, appear to be the slowest. If the fungus was attacking every seed, I probably would try a fungicide wash or mild bleach solution, but as that doesn't seem to be the case, I'm happy to accept the odds and be left with only the most vigorous seeds. Cleaning the embryos with fresh water, and moving the seeds around for the first couple of days, seems to be sufficient.

Interesting, I might have to try that. Recently, I broke down and decided to try giberellic acid on some more unusual seeds (Areca minuta and Cyrtostachys loriae). I soaked them for a day then re-sowed them a week ago. I will keep everybody posted on how that goes. It may lead to "stretched" seedlings, but a stetched seedling is better than no seedling! Besides, I would assume a stretched seedling would grow out of this condition eventually.

-Michael

Michael, gibberellic acid is a tricky business from what I've read. Getting the amount just right can lead to either no effect whatsoever, or as you say, stretched seedlings. At some point though, I think you just have to try again with more seeds. The de-lidding technique is about as far as I would be prepared to go, to induce germination. It's simple and doesn't require any additional expense.

Update on the Corphya and Jubaea seeds..

The 8 seeds labelled Corphya utan are very healthy and growing well. The 6 labelled by Kris as Corypha macropoda are much slower to respond, and 3 of those I expect to not survive as they were attacked by fungus early on. We'll see. Again, I take this as a sign that the seeds were not as vigorous as the one's labelled Corphya utan, hence the very different success rate. One of the 3 Jubaea seeds also succumbed to fungus. All seeds were germinated in the same environment.

post-1155-1258805006_thumb.jpg

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www.dadluvsu.com

There's not really a very formal lid on this variety, but I found this old seed still in good firm shape while breaking apart a community pot today. Took a razor blade to it and think I delidded it.

Senor Mapu. (bad pic, little sickle seed)

DSC05061.jpg

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John in Andalucia

I de-lidded a T. princeps a couple of days ago and it's now germinating, and these seeds are nearly 2 years old. They are notoriously slow, and tend to germinate in 3's and 4's every November to December, then nothing all year long. A couple of them sprouted on their own the last few weeks, so if the one I de-lidded doesn't suffer a fungal attack, I may "process" the remaining 30 or 40.

Bill, I have 2 L. mapu seeds that are still good. I will de-lid one of them tomorrow and post my results. I think your L. mapu seed looks unlikely to sprout, but you never know. Did you float-test it first?

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Zeeth

Could this de-lidding work on coconuts? I've got some coconuts I want to get germinated so they'll be going by spring, so by the end of next summer they'll be big

Keith

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John in Andalucia
Could this de-lidding work on coconuts? I've got some coconuts I want to get germinated so they'll be going by spring, so by the end of next summer they'll be big

Keith

Keith, in my previous topic (which is linked in the first post of this one) I mentioned how I first tried this technique on a supermarket coconut. So the answer is a resounding "yes"!

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Zeeth
Could this de-lidding work on coconuts? I've got some coconuts I want to get germinated so they'll be going by spring, so by the end of next summer they'll be big

Keith

Keith, in my previous topic (which is linked in the first post of this one) I mentioned how I first tried this technique on a supermarket coconut. So the answer is a resounding "yes"!

Hmmm... I have a Malayan that's been sitting for a few months, tomorrow I'll "de lid" it and put it on the water heater (for warmth) and cover it in moist napkins and see what happens. Do you have any specific instructions to follow? Should I just nick the embryo, or remove all of it's covering? Should I do it on all 3 pores, or just one? Thanks

Keith

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John in Andalucia
Hmmm... I have a Malayan that's been sitting for a few months, tomorrow I'll "de lid" it and put it on the water heater (for warmth) and cover it in moist napkins and see what happens. Do you have any specific instructions to follow? Should I just nick the embryo, or remove all of it's covering? Should I do it on all 3 pores, or just one? Thanks

Keith

Keith, if you've read both topics there's not really much more to add. You can only de-lid one pore on a coconut. It's the one with the embryo behind it. :winkie:

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Zeeth
Hmmm... I have a Malayan that's been sitting for a few months, tomorrow I'll "de lid" it and put it on the water heater (for warmth) and cover it in moist napkins and see what happens. Do you have any specific instructions to follow? Should I just nick the embryo, or remove all of it's covering? Should I do it on all 3 pores, or just one? Thanks

Keith

Keith, if you've read both topics there's not really much more to add. You can only de-lid one pore on a coconut. It's the one with the embryo behind it. :winkie:

I'll try this technique and let you know how it goes.

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Trópico

Proceed with utmost caution with the coconuts as just razoring the embryo will have perilous consequences...

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Zeeth
Proceed with utmost caution with the coconuts as just razoring the embryo will have perilous consequences...

Gotcha, I think I'll try it out on a store bought coco first to make sure I've got my technique correct!

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BS Man about Palms

I want to try this on some Kentiopsis seeds I got. Any advice?

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John in Andalucia
Proceed with utmost caution with the coconuts as just razoring the embryo will have perilous consequences...

Come on, Frank - that' s not very scientific now, is it? If you are being serious, maybe you could share your "perilous" coconut experiences with everyone. As it happens, the first time I tried this with my supermarket coconut, I accidentally stabbed the embryo with the tip of a bent paper clip looking for the germination pore and it sprouted just fine.

Bill, Good luck with your Kentiopsis seeds. I should imagine at some point you would need a vice, and a magnifying glass for small, tough seeds. Imagine yourself as a jeweller or watch repairer, and dress accordingly.

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www.dadluvsu.com
Bill, I have 2 L. mapu seeds that are still good. I will de-lid one of them tomorrow and post my results. I think your L. mapu seed looks unlikely to sprout, but you never know. Did you float-test it first?

I did float test her and she was a go! The seeds looks so funny caused I used a thumbnail and scratched away the outer shell to expose some of the endosperm(?) and to help me find there the "lid" was... It was not very pronounced on this seed. Hopefully moisture will get in everywhere and plump up this seed for a winter germination!

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Pivi

This method is totally working.

But after 7 days on one of the seeds the embrio shrinked inside. What could be the cause? (pic #4.)

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Trópico

John- One coconut where I tried this technique I accidentally scraped the embryo on the upper part - where the sprout is supposed to come from. Well, the embryo popped no problem but it slowly morphed into a horror movie type growth that just kept growing and turning uglier with time. And the scraped part seemed to be attractive to ants, snails, etc.

BS Man - I did K. magnifica using this method. De-lid inside the "crater" area with a pin (be very careful!). The embryo should be located from the center to the edge of the crater.

Pivi - If the embryo was just the same as the other ones, maybe injury or simply the seed was a no grow. Don't give up just yet.

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FRITO

I pulled a baggie of OLD Brahea clara var. 'icy blue' orginally from RPS. I have the bag labelled 10-28-08 so the seeds are nearly 13 months old.

I had 10 seeds, none germinated in over a year, I got some 80 grit sand paper and 'de lidded' the outer portion of the seed until I saw the "white dot"

I tested this on 5 of the seeds, left 5 remaining in natural state. the 5 I 'de lidded' have pushed out a small radical now, it looks to be like a success. I will update as progress continues.

:greenthumb:

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John in Andalucia
I pulled a baggie of OLD Brahea clara var. 'icy blue' orginally from RPS. I have the bag labelled 10-28-08 so the seeds are nearly 13 months old.

I had 10 seeds, none germinated in over a year, I got some 80 grit sand paper and 'de lidded' the outer portion of the seed until I saw the "white dot"

I tested this on 5 of the seeds, left 5 remaining in natural state. the 5 I 'de lidded' have pushed out a small radical now, it looks to be like a success. I will update as progress continues.

:greenthumb:

Luke, I have a box full of those B. clara (Icy Blue) purchased the same time as yours. Thanks for the info!

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Trópico

Wow! I didn't imagine how powerful this technique turned out to be! We are onto something totally Einsteinesque here! Can someone explain the physiobotanic principle behind it? Maybe no lid means moisture reaching the embryo faster, and no barrier to overcome to sprout.

Edited by Trópico

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John in Andalucia

My Corphya seeds will be potted up tomorrow. I pulled one out of the vermiculite this morning to check it, put it back, and by this afternoon it had anchored itself in to the vermiculite again! Lost another Jubaea seed to fungus, so only 1 out of 3 remaining. I'm wondering if de-lidded seeds would benefit from being underwater for the first 24 hours, with maybe a drop or two of bleach solution.

Who doesn't enjoying sneaking into their own greenhouse in the dark? :lol:

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MattyB

This is amazing results you guys! I've got a bunch of old seed from the past few years that is getting to the point where I'm thinking of just tossing it. Maybe I'll delid some of them.

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John in Andalucia
This is amazing results you guys! I've got a bunch of old seed from the past few years that is getting to the point where I'm thinking of just tossing it. Maybe I'll delid some of them.

Do it, Matty! What do you have stashed away?

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MattyB

Astrocaryum vulgare, Syagrus anajai, Raphia ruwenzorica, Trachy something don't remember, a few other things. The Raphia is probably the one I'd most like to get to pop after sitting for a few years.

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Pivi

John, do you remember for hedyscepe how long does it take for the button to send a root down?

My first seed that germinated using this technique still didn't grow the root. Only a button for now.

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John in Andalucia
John, do you remember for hedyscepe how long does it take for the button to send a root down?

My first seed that germinated using this technique still didn't grow the root. Only a button for now.

The button is all you see on Hedyscepe for the first couple of months, the same as Kentiopsis. Lemurophoenix are the same, with the shoot often emerging before any significant root growth.

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Pivi

For "shoot" you mean the part that grows up ("leaf")?

Thanks John!

Edited by Pivi

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Pivi
For "shoot" you mean the part that grows up ("leaf")?

Thanks John!

cannot edit my post anymore. Got it, shoot-the part that goes up (plumule).

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Zeeth

I tried this on 3 Corypha macropoda seeds, 1 yesterday and 2 today. The one I did yesterday seems to be starting up, I'll keep you updated on it's progress.

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Pivi

Yes, they are definitely going! Once again John, thanks for the idea! :)

8 out of 11 in this box for now.

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Tyrone

This is amazing stuff. I tried something similar with Beccariophoenix madagascariensis non-window form. Though I didn't delid them I noticed that the only ones to have germinated at one point were the ones which had cracked the thin outer shell apart and had exposed the embyro to air and moisture. So I proceeded to very carefully take the thin shell off of all the remaining seeds and got 100% germination from them. I found a similar thing with B alfredii. I haven't quite progressed to pulling the embryo lid off though. I wish this would work with Acanthophoenix seeds. They're just so small.

Best regards

Tyrone

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Caryota_gigas

This may be slightly off topic, but if you want to see what you have to cut through on a Parajubaea torallyi var. microcarpa to do the same thing, check out this pic

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John in Andalucia

After one year and 4 months of waiting, my first Brahea armata sp. "clara" seed, de-lidded yesterday, is showing signs of germinating. These need to be ready for spring, so I'm doing them all. 12.30 pm - I wonder how long this will take. :lol:

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