Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Arbutus Cuttings

Our baby arbutus plant from seed is barely eight months old and its new growth is amazing.  The low cluster of three dark leaves of varying size is last year's growth.  Five light green leaves are the new growth to date.  The large bright light green leaf appeared first.  The smaller olive green leaves are rather new.  How all of this new growth can spring from such a comparatively small and young parent plant has to raise questions.  Soon finding the crown of this plant will be difficult since most of the growth will be a some distance away from it.

Nearly daily checks are taken on this cluster of female blossoms.  We are hoping to record the development of seed capsules.  There has been no apparent change since the flower petals were dropped.

We are also watching this group of male flower remains.  Since we have no botany courses between us, there is a small nagging doubt about our identification of the genders of these flowers.  If seeds appear here, then we were dead wrong with our classification.

These two stem cuttings were taken today.  Small olive green leaves are the youngest so that was our choice for cuttings.  New cells are more prone to accept a new function than older cells.  We need stem cells to convert to crown and root cells if a new plant is to appear here.  My previous attempt to root arbutus cuttings was a complete failure.  New growth was taken before but today I went with really new growth.  Clear plastic juice bottles with the bottoms removed are in place over the cuttings with the entire affair moved to dim light.  Water is in the saucers.  The race is on to see if the cuttings can send out roots to get water before the leaves dry out.  The bottles should maintain a moist environment around the severed leaves.  In a few days the caps will be removed from the bottles to allow some air circulation.  We will also allow the saucers to dry out between watering.

All of these bright green leaves are new growth this year.  A woodchuck ate this plant down to the crown last year but it appears that this one is a survivor.  With all of this new growth, there may be suitable structures available to support flower bud formation this fall.

Expect to see a post announcing the fate of the cuttings taken today.  We will report either success or failure.  We also hope to be able to report the formation of seed capsules.  Our immediate goal is to gain some understanding of the natural cycle of this plant.  If we learn enough, perhaps we can reintroduce some arbutus plants into the wild.

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