Thursday, February 5, 2009

Fraxinus insularis from China, Jasminum et alia ex Azerbaijan, and Cocculus carolinia+ from the Fern Valley trip to Alabama: the seeds are germinating

National Arboretum staff went in all directions collecting seed, last year. germination is happening and the plants are growing. Stefan Lura, plant records botanist, went to Azerbaijan and brought back an interesting and varied collection many of which have already germinated. The pictures above show a flat of his seedling pots, small transplants, and a random selection of labels from his material. The labels are intriguing; I certainly know Jasminum fruticans, but the rest....? And Ziziphora biebersteiniana, Chamaenerion stevenii, there are dozens more! Stefan showed me a Marrubium, horehound, that smells like sheep. The Campanulas from the cliff face are germinating. It's exciting.

Chris Carley went to China and last month, a group of us spent some considerable time cleaning and assayng Fraxinus seed from the NACPEC (North American China Plant Exploration Consortium) collection trip. Protocols for germination suggested several months of warm stratification, followed by cold and, if necessary, repeating the cycle. Well Fraxinus insularis, over the past week and still in warm stratification, has largely germinated. Very cool. There is, of course, a lot of interest in Ashes (Fraxinus) because of the looming presence of Emerald Ash Borer.

The Native Plant staff went on two significant trips last year; we targeted Shortia galacifolia in South and North Carolina early summer. Hundreds of Shortia seeds have germinated and the plants are growing. We got a few other things on that trip but it was a bit early for most plants. Last week I saw what I think is a seedling of Wood Betony, Pedicularis. This is a beautiful plant and, interestingly, a semi-parasite. Good term.....Useful. We are just now beginning to get germination in some of the seeds from the fall trip to Tennessee and Alabama: Celtis tenuifolia, Cocculus carolinus, Cornus florida (from beautiful clean trees), Aesculus pavia, and many more. It will be exciting to see this wealth of material develop.

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