Friday, December 12, 2008

Virtual Trip: Mystery seeds from the Caribbean

Recently I sat down and brainstormed about all of the things I could write about on The Variegated Thumb.  One of the topics that came to mind was a sort of "field trip report."  I have a list of places that I want to visit - be it a local nursery, botanical garden in a neighboring state, or something even more far-fetched.  I thought a report about my trip with some pictures and information would make a very appropriate blog post.  So I have plans to release a trip report about once a month.  [Other recurring topics I have planned are book reviews, plant finds, genera profiles, aquatic posts, and projects.]

My first trip report is unfortunately not from a trip I took myself, hence the word "virtual" in the title.  I'm going to have to live through pictures and some seeds that were brought back to me.  My parents just returned from a week-long cruise to the Caribbean.  They left from Fort Lauderdale, Florida and landed in Grand Turks, Tortola, St. Marten, and Half Moon Cay (Bahamas).

At one point on the trip my mom noticed some seeds hanging off of a plant and commented about it to my dad.  My dad, wearing cargo shorts, decided to carry a couple home in his pocket.  The seeds of two other mystery plants caught their attention on the trip and so now I have seeds from three unknown plants.

The Seeds of Mystery

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480" caption="Mystery seeds from the Caribbean"]Mystery seeds from the Caribbean[/caption]

The first seed is like a large nut.  It seems to have the most distinct appearance of the three seeds, so I  hoped someone would know what this one is.

The second seed is the pit of a small fruit.  The fruit was not much larger than the pit and was shriveled and brown when I first saw it.  I peeled it away easily and washed the seed by hand.  My mom remembers seeing a lot of Fiddle leaf fig trees (Ficus pandurata) on their trip and I suspect that the fruit that I removed from this pit might have been a fig.

The third seed was also inside of a fruit, but the fruit layer around the seed was much thinner in this case.  My mom remarked about how much this one looks like a large lemon seed.  I agree.

Identifying the Mystery Seeds

The only clues I had for determining the plants from which these seeds came is the appearance, their departure port location and the four cruise stops.

I posted the picture above to one of my favorite forums on the internet - the Name that Plant forum on GardenWeb.  That forum is sort of my Watson, if you will.  Within 20 minutes(!) I had already received a positive identification on the first seed.  The first seed seems to have come from a Christmas Palm (Veitchia merrillii).  I looked around and found some other pictures of these seeds, as well some important information - they are commonly planted in southern Florida.  The good news continues - apparently they are fairly easy to grow from seed and make decent container plants!

One down, two to go...

If you have any information on the remaining two seeds or think you might know what one of them is, please let me know.  I can try to germinate them, but I'm not sure how much luck I will have without knowing what they are.

1 comment:

  1. Cool ---- hopefully someone will know about the remaining two seeds. I will send this to Dad and he will probably become even a more avid seed-watcher on our next adventure. ;-)
    Hmmm.....after finally finding persimmons, and paying the "price", wonder if we could get some persimmon seeds and cultivate our own for next year's Christmas cookies?

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