Saturday, 19 June 2010

A Surprise Ocaurrence - What's That Lurking in My Lathyrus?


Passing one of my caremyle pots the other day, I did a sudden double take. There, nestled beneath the foliage, were two little seedlings, with trifoliate leaves.








Intrigued, I looked closer. Not clover, nor Oxalis corniculata, but little oca plants - definitely. Unlike Queen Victoria, I was amused.

I must have repotted the caremyle with some spent compost containing oca seeds, which had then decided to germinate. I quickly extricated them and planted them in modules; I'll reunite these foundlings with their extended family in the oca plot when they reach the age of majority. Scrutinising the surface of the pot more closely , I noticed further seedlings starting to show.

Not long afterwards I was hoeing off some weeds and oca volunteers which I wanted to remove from a bed. I noticed that one of the ocas, small and stocky and moments before a picture of health, actually had cotyledons. This was none other than my first oca seedling to appear spontaneously outside in one of our beds and I had, in my enthusiastic ignorance, decapitated it. I held the the bisected beauty in my hands with an expression of mute incomprehension. No I didn't - I swore with undignified intensity and rapidity. Regaining my composure quickly (all of 30 minutes), I replanted the rootless stem and I'm hoping that I can persuade it to re-root. It at least proves that oca seeds can germinate and develop outside satisfactorily, although how large a plant it would have made before the winter is anyone's guess, especially with me acting plum loco parentis. If it survives, I'll name it Lucky, after that darn dog from that ol' poster:





5 comments:

Vegetable Heaven said...

Free seedlings are a real bonus. I hope 'Lucky' takes!

orrflo said...

It will re-root, I had a seedling that was devastated by a slug, but the top part of that seedling was left untouched, this part was replanted and it did root up amazingly easily, roots were formed on all parts that touched the ground.
Good luck with your 'weed oca patch'

IAP said...

So quite a bit of variation in germination time. How long did you give them before you gave up the first time round? Presumably you gave them some warmth.
If I ever collect any seed I might try sowing a few 'in the green'. Though thinking about their natural habitat, they'd be more sensible to germinate in Spring. Could they perhaps need a cold period?

'Lucky' indeed. Some misguided sorts fling their spent seed compost into the compost bin.

Rebsie Fairholm said...

It never ceases to amaze me how determined some seedlings are to cling on to life. I had a potato seedling (i.e. no tuber) decapitated recently by a toilet-crazed cat, but stuck back in the ground with a bit of water it seemed fairly happy to live without its roots for a bit.

Rhizowen said...

Thanks everyone for your concern over Lucky. I'm pleased to report that it has recently developed a brand new root system. Plants are clever.

IAP - my guess is that oca seeds probably consist of dormant and non-dormant individuals, a flexible strategy that allows them to maximise the opportunity to reproduce by spreading germination over time. Lucky is proof that it works. I started them off at 20C - one paper I've read suggests 18C.

Rebise - I love plants that root easily and forgive us our trespasses. Have you tried the Super Soaker feline deterrent?

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