Monday, December 5, 2016

Matilija poppy propagation - and happy coincidences


First - photos!

Fried egg plant, AKA matilija poppy, AKA Romneya coulteri

Surprised there were no bees in this photo - they swarm on these flowers.

Here you can see immature seed pods.

Matilija poppy is a perennial growing to six or more feet tall!
I chop mine down every year, but you don't have to.
They can spread where happy, by roots.
Mine are merely cheerful, I guess!

This morning on our local CNPS chapter's page on FaceBook I was happy to see that one of our group members had posted a link to this month's newsletter from Friends of the Regional Parks Botanic Garden.

The Regional Parks Botanic Garden is a California native garden within Tilden Regional Park -- and you must go see it if you are in striking distance of Berkeley!

The main article is about the strange and wonderful strategies plants have evolved to prevent germination of their seeds until the time is right. Do read the article - it's by Susan Ashley, and it's great!

One thing I didn't know is that when some plants - such as matilija poppy - drop their seeds - the seeds still have to ripen and mature. Kinda like little kangaroo babies in Mother Nature's pouch.

Another is that fire-followers don't necessarily require heat to break seed dormancy. Some only require the chemicals in smoke. Such is also the case with matilija poppy.

And funny thing is -- well it was funny to me -- that just yesterday I was handling seeds of said matilija poppy. Here's my FaceBook group comment: ...

You won't believe this but just yesterday I was weeding near some Romneya coulteri and my grandkids were "helping." We were having a grand time, though not many weeds were biting the dust. Then my 5 year old granddaughter found a seedhead of the Matilija poppy - she looked at the bizarre object for a while - then tossed it away as too creepy!  
Delighted, I picked it back up and told her what it was and we emptied seeds out into her little hand. I told her about the seeds needing fire to germinate - we put six seeds (all the ones that survived being in a jiggly 5 year old's hand!) in a pot and put some oak wood ash on top -- we'd had a fire on Thanksgiving in one of those metal fire containing things -- and put it in the greenhouse!  
Now I've learned from that article that germination requires cold dormancy and that the seeds are immature when shed. Also they need the smoke chemical but not the heat. So I'll move it to an outdoor location and see what happens come spring. We're all excited at our little experiment - and I'm so happy to have read more in this article - thanks!!

The experiment! I moved the pot out of the greenhouse after reading that the seeds
require cold as well as smoke chemicals to break dormancy.

I went down this morning to the brush pile to find pods from old growth I'd cut back. They are a bit musty to be sure. The article I linked to at the top has some more splendid photos. But these are mine anyway!

I love how they decay to these bird-cage like basket skeletons!

And how the bit at the top, which you can see when the flower is still present, remains.

And btw if you are a native plant lover living in Santa Cruz County California or are just interested in its native flora - you are welcome to join our chapter's fb group. It's a small group as yet, but the more the merrier. We are just one of a few FB groups devoted to nature in Santa Cruz County - they are all great - and a good place to ask for IDs on things mysterious and natural.

I bet your county or region has such local groups too, a natural history or fungus or native plant or bird or -- etc. etc. -- group you will enjoy, if you use FaceBook. Good to know it isn't all fake news and cute babies!

Speaking of which... I wasn't taking pictures as we were weeding yesterday - so here are some gratuitous photos of my happy, messy, nature-loving grandkids from earlier this year.

Kids in nature - my granddaughter finds a banana slug in the garden.


Not sure what has captured my grandson's eye here. He loves all kinds of bugs.






3 comments:

Kari Olsen said...

I love your blog! What a great entry and, as alway, such beautiful photos. I didn't know Matilija Poppy seed pods turn into little bird cages. Enchanting!

Country Mouse said...

Thanks, Kari! The great thing about nature as a hobby - you never run out of things to discover and delight in!

Aaron Webb said...

Good Evening,

Enjoyed seeing the beautiful shot of the Matilija poppy flowers! My company site enjoy doing landscaping work and enjoy seeing photos like these. God Bless you!