Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Trees on the Move

Just outside the fence on the south-west corner of our garden there's a large Norway maple whose winged seeds are scattered all over our vegetable patch by south-westerley gales in autumn. All winter hundreds of seeds have been laying on the soil surface, buried by snow and dusted with frost crystals, and recently they've all begun to germinate, pushing out their first root into the soil. If we didn't cultivate this patch of ground every spring we'd have a small forest of Norway maple by now; some, behind the greenhouse, have escaped the hoe in earlier years and are on the way to becoming small trees.

Like many plants, the dormant seeds of Norway maple are incapable of germination when they're shed and it takes a winter's frosts to break down the dormancy compound - abscisic acid - inside the seed and allow germination to begin, just as the temperatures begin to rise in spring.

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  1. Love that shot of the germinating seed Phil.
    I would have thought all that snow and frost would kill off the seeds.

  2. I used to have an old ash tree, which unfortunately became unsafe with rot and age but keys kept sprouting for twenty years after it was cut down. Incredible the way they are 'timed' to germinate at different times and that the seeds can survive for so long in all weathers.

  3. I agree..... I think the whole subject of seeds is one of the most fascinating things in the world of nature!

    We get little baby trees springing up all over the garden. The Rowan (Mountain Ash) are good for cultivating as bonsai.

  4. Hi Keith, they're pretty tough!

  5. We have ash seedlings coming up all over the garden too John - it's amazing how far they blow in the wind and how fast they establish themselves if you let them take root..

  6. Hi Lesley, We've got an endless supply of holly seedlings, thanks to a mistle thrush that eats the berries and then deposits seeds all over the garden.