Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Arbutus Seeds In Two Colors
Our lofty goal with arbutus is to have them successfully self seed and produce new plants totally on their own. So far that has not happened here. One plant from seed did appear here but that seed was in the soil that was moved with the transplant since no seeds formed immediately following the move. We have no way of knowing just how many seasons passed before the seed germinated. We do know that neither the recent seed left alone, nor the seed I tended, have produced any new plants. Reading has not offered any information about the natural cycle of these seeds. Some do report success germinating seed under cultivation but that has eluded me. This year the seeds will be left alone. Whatever happens to them will not show my fingerprints.
Our planting near the arbutus wall had many clusters of developing seed this year. Watched almost daily, the opening of the seed berries escaped our notice. Generous new growth spread over the developing seed making it difficult to see just what was happening underneath. When the cage was finally removed and careful inspection was made, all of the seed clusters were open and picked clean.
Five is the number that describes many parts the an arbutus plant. Each seed berry shows grooves that split the whole into five sections. Five green covering membranes have peeled back to reveal the ripe seed. One might wonder if there is any significance to the different colors of the seeds. Arbutus does have male and female plants. Might there be a connection between the color of the seed and the gender of the plant that springs from it? Since I have been unable to get the seeds to germinate, there will be no exploration of that question here.
This plant has another cluster of seed berries tucked under leaves on the far side. It is difficult enough to get photos that are in focus at this close range without fooling around with hidden subjects. It is unfortunate that the row of seed clusters on the other planting opened unnoticed. They would have made a truly impressive picture. There is always next year and we intend to try again. As it is this photo is impressive enough.
A return visit was made one day after this picture was taken. Both seed clusters were picked clean. Ants are fond of the white mass that supports the seeds. Chunks of it are removed and carried back to the ant hill as a food source. Seeds fall off on the journey or are tucked away inside of the ant's home. In any event no seeds now remain with the parent plant. We do not know how long the seed cluster was open before it was eaten. We shall keep a sharp lookout for new plants from seed in the area surrounding the parent plants. The beginning of a time line has been noted.