Re: Byblis germination

John Taylor [Catweasel] (
Thu, 13 Oct 94 09:49:31 DST

>>My Byblis Gigantea still hasn't sprouted despite following the
>>instructions to scorch them when planted, with a couple of burning
>>leaves etc. ( Slack's 'Carnivorous Plants' I think. )
>>Anyone know how long they can take - I planted them in March, so
>>I'm beginning to wonder if I should chuck them out and try again?
>>( Or are they like the infamous tuberous drosera? )
>I have never succeeeded with Adrian's patented "create a widerness
>fire" method. I suspect that he was a frustrated australian arsonist
>with a really good imagination (he certainly was familiar with Pink
>Elephants, for example!).
>All my seed came from Allan Lowrie. Allan recommends the use of
>Kangaroos (at this point you may doubt the seriousness of this mail but
>I promise I am NOT telling stories - this is real data). Allan insists
>that the seeds germinate really well following an excursion through the
>alimentary canal of a Kangaroo (sorry, no data on whether the Kangaroo
>species is relevant). I've no first hand evidence of anyone
>succeeeding with brush fires (except Nature perhaps). I've tried
>mini-bush fires and popping (as in creating pop corn) but all with
>equal lack of success (I waited up to two years for subsequent seed
>I'd be interested in anyone telling how they succeeded with the bush
>fire method!

Suprise! The bushfire approach does work - though it took me a couple
of batches of seed and a few attempts... I finally succeeded in getting
a few seedlings, one of which survived (and is still growing well). It
was a few years ago, but I think I used a few successive small fires of
straw/grass which needs to be very dry to burn properly. I think you
have to avoid slow burning fire as this tends to be very destructive.
Fast burning fires give a *short* (probably intense) burst of heat which
stimulates the seed without roasting them... Terracotta pots are
recommended for this stage!

You could try using an electric heat gun (used for paint stripping, etc.)
instead of fire - the airflow through these guns is fairly small so it
shouldn't blow the contents of your pot out...

Scarification methods *may* work (I haven't tried them). In particular,
pouring boiling water over the seed (not boiling the seed in a saucepan...),
then letting them soak until the swell & sink may be worth a try.

You could experiment with acid-treatments (vinegar maybe?) or
fermentation with a banana or similar, to simulate the 'roo... If you
have hens, you could feed them the seed (don't laugh!, I heard this
worked for one particularly difficult native plant - although the seed
of the plant is targetted for bird dispersal not 'roos...).

| John Taylor [Catweasel] | Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology |
| | Department of Applied Physics |
| | Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA |