Friday, September 30, 2011

Welwitschia seeds!

The Welwitschia mirabilis plants at UConn produced abundant fully-formed cones for the first time, this past summer. On warm afternoons in midsummer, the mature female cones produced "pollination drops," or droplets of nectar at the end of hair-like extensions of the ovules. The male cones have nectaries, as well, which probably attract insect pollinators in the wild in Namibia.

I placed pollen from the males into the pollination drops of female cones for several days running back in July, and two months later the seeds are starting to mature. Some of the seeds are very light and thin, and are probably duds, but quite a few look like viable Welwitschia seed. I may plant a few now to see what happens, though it probably isn't the best time of year.

Female cones with pollination drops, back in midsummer.

6 comments:

Alex said...

Congratulations! That's great, and on your first time too. I got my first Welwitschia cones this summer too. That plant is a male. I'll have to see what happens with the other plant. Here's hoping the other plant is a female and I can get some seeds too. That would be fun.

Matt said...

It's funny-- the welwitschias have produced small, not very healthy looking cones on and off for a couple of years, but this year was a bumper crop of fully formed males and females. It could have been the hot summer, or maybe the extra fertilizer the plants got, or maybe just a matter of age.

Julie said...

Congrats on these gorgeous cones!!!

Hey Matt...is there any way you could take a look at a mystery succulent on a fellow bloggers site? If you could, I would appreciate it. She looked to me for an answer, and I am perplexed as to whether it is an aloe or possibly Haworthia...or what variety, etc. Her blog post is HERE.
Thanks if you can.
Julie

Matt said...

Hi Julie, sorry for the slow reply. The mystery plant looks like Haworthia fasciata.

Juan Echegoyen said...

What happen at the end? felicidades fron Spain

Matt said...

The seed was viable and germinated well. As usual with Welwitschia seedlings, I lost some to damping-off (fungal infection), but I got some nice young plants out of that coning event.