Re: Picking seeds before mother nature does.

Hello Sue

Thank you for your queries which I found really stimulating.   When one has
grown a plant for some years one tends to forget what it really does, so I
had great fun today going out to look.

 >>>>   Have you ever noticed a brown ring around the peduncle just under the
fruit?  It is about 3/8" wide, is indented, looks pitted, and is in the shape
of a crown (wider on one side than the other with the point down.)   The
rings on both peduncles look the same, even in shape.>>>>

Could this ring be where the spathe grew from the peduncle, and the sow bugs
have eaten the dead remains of the spathe?   The open side of the spathe tube
grows further down the peduncle than the back and gives the shape you mention
when it has died back.

>>>>Now that the peduncles are pitted, I am wondering if this
allows moisture to penatrate the stem,  perhaps allowing it to rot.  This may
be why the smallest one tipped over.  It was soft, as though it had rotted
where it was pitted.  The few fruits that were there, maybe 4, went ahead and
turned orange after it had slumped, so I pinched one, and it had a small
white seed inside.  Is a white see a good seed? >>>>

I think that the smallest one probably tipped over because there were not
enough flowers in the inflorescence that had been pollinated - perhaps, in
fact, none.   The plant then has no reason to expend energy in maintaining
the peduncle, which collapses.   (This is a pretty un-scientific description
of the process, and I am sure others can improve on it! :-))

There is an excellent monograph  'The Genus Arum' by Peter Boyce (ISBN 0 11
250085 4) and I hope he will forgive me for quoting briefly from this.
  "Each seed consists of a leathery, reticulate testa, enclosing the copious,
starchy endosperm."   From this I would think that the small white seeds you
have are not fully developed - they should be pale buff in colour and with
the reticulate surface he describes.

>>>>The fruit clusters that are left, are much larger, with many more fruits,
and the peduncles are still well able to hold up the fruit.  The fruit on top
seems to be turning a
lighter green.  Is this the start of turning orange, or are they turning
orange prematurely? >>>>

Some of the fruits I have here are just beginning to turn pale green/yellow,
and you are, presumably, further south than us.   So far as I can remember
from last year they take a long time to turn completely orange-red - into the
early fall - and the peduncle remains upright until the berries are fully
ripe and dispersed.   

>>>>So it would be better to let them fall over and see if they turn orange
before I pick them?  Or/and pick them after the peduncle has fallen, whether
they are orange or not?>>>>

It would be best to leave them on the plant until they begin either to fall
off or to be eaten by birds.   In passing, I am not sure whether the berries
actually fall off of their own volition, or get knocked off by careless birds
feeding.   In any event you need, then, to get there before the birds have
the lot.   For cleaning the seeds from the pulp it is only neccessary to
squeeze the seeds out and rinse off any adhering pulp and then sow straight
away.   Thin rubber gloves will protect your hands from the calcium oxalate
crystals in the pulp, and you do not want to get the pulp in you eyes or on
your lips.


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