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CULTURAL DIARY   2016

Tim Jemmott

Begonia Species

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June

The begonia seed-heads are maturing well and I'm starting to harvest the seed.  It is important to wait until the fruiting bodies dry out and starts to open.  Harvest the seed too soon the seed will be immature and leave it too long and you may loose all the seed as the pod splits open.

I collect seed by placing the seed head on a clean sheet of paper with two side folded over to form a funnel.  As you can see from the picture below some of the seed may start to spill out.  I then use a scalpel blade to cut the seed head in half releasing the seed.  The picture below show a seed head of B. carolineifolia with its 3 locular ovaries typical of the section Gireoudia.  Begonia seed is very small [0.2mm].  The inside of the seed-head will be sterile but the outside has been exposed to the environment and maybe contaminated with bacteria or fungal spores.  It is necessary at this point to separate the seed the from any small pieces of the seed-head.  Then pour the seed in a wax paper envelope which has been labelled with the plant name and date.  The packets of seed are stored in an airtight plastic box in the fridge.

A recent article in the Begonian the journal of the ABS suggested using a sieve for separating the seed from the husk of the seed-head.  This will require a  sieve with a mesh of 355m [0.355mm].  I looked into getting 355m 3sieve in the UK I was quoted over 200.  The US firm recommended in the article [the Gilson company] quoted a very reasonable 24 for the sieve but they wanted 35 for shipping it to the UK.  I'm going to pass for now. 

So how do you know if the seed is viable seed.  Viable seed will roll across the sheet of paper.  Or you can examine it with a microscope, good seed is round.  The first two pictures below were taken with a USB microscope at approximately 20x magnification [cheap, available from Amazon, Ebay etc].  Most of the seed is of uniform size and shape, there are a few small shrivelled seeds which will not be viable. 

Last month rhizome cuttings have started to grow well.  The petiole and leaf wedges will take a bit longer.  The plant I took the cuttings from was a somewhat over grown example of B. Beatrice Hadrell.  It was cut back hard re-potted in and placed in a plastic bag for 2 weeks and is starting to grow again.


seed at approximately 20x magnification via usb micrscope.


seed at approximately 20x magnification via usb micrscope.


B. Beatrice Hadrell overgrown and after cutting back and re-potting.


B. Beatrice Hadrell overgrown and after cutting back and re-potting.


.Mature seed heads of B. carolineifolia just starting to open.


 seed heads of B. carolineifolia cut open to release seed and show seed head structure.


.seed heads of B. carolineifolia cut open to release seed and show seed head structure. 


seed of B. crassicaulis being collected in wax paper envolope

                   
seed collected in wax paper envolope ready to go into the fridge 

                

 new growth

    
 

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