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gtarman

My experience growing Bat's Wing Coral Tree from seed...

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Just thought I'd share my experiences growing Erythrina vespertilio, or "Bat's Wing Coral Tree" from seed to see if it can help anyone else or if anybody else is interested in comparing notes. I really love the look of this tree and think it has an interesting cultural heritage, and that it may be quite useful as a sedative - though I've yet to try it as such. It's also a cool plant to give as a gift.

The seeds look like this:

seeds.jpg

Some sources will say you need to scarify them - my experience has been that this has not helped, and germination rates remained the same either way. I also had slightly fewer problems with rot if I avoided scarification.

Either way all the seed I've managed to source (mostly from ebay sellers) had a relatively low germination rate no matter what - around 30-40%. The seeds that don't come up will just sit there and rot, and eventually worms or various larvae get them. I've kinda resigned myself to the fact that I'm only going to get a few plants out of each batch.

I plant the seeds on their sides just beneath the surface of a well-draining mix and keep moist with lots of indirect light. After a week or so (give or take) the ones that are going to come up will have come up generally, with the odd straggler coming up late. The rest can be discarded IME, although you can crush one and see the maggots at work for yourself if you like :lol:.

When they germinate, the seed seems to open down the middle...it's hard to explain without actually having a picture, but basically the roots and stem make up the centre of the seed and when they come out they leave what look like two large seed leaves...although I'm beginning to think they don't really work as leaves, as they always seem to stay under the soil and the roots and stem come directly out of them. I usually just wait til the seedling gets a little more established before I pot it up or (depending on what sized pot you started in) simply cover it over with more potting mix.

I've been mulching them in with gravel mulch to keep the moisture down near the roots but I've learned the hard way that you shouldn't do this until the seddling is more established and the stem isn't so green and soft I'd say wait a couple of weeks at least - I've lost a couple seedlings that way on windy days because the mulch wouldn't let the base of the stem move around with the wind and since it was weak and green new growth it just snapped and fell over.

This is my biggest seedling - a couple months old now :)

post-7646-0-02946600-1387957889_thumb.jp

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I find fresh seeds germinate best (they grow locally here), and by soaking you can see which ones are most likely to germinate because they tend to swell up and the seed coat starts to come off. Iv had them randomly come up from 'duds' too though - one of the duds i just pushed into a box with vegies growing in it and it came up too (much later than the others). I find once they get a set of leaves or two they are pretty difficult to kill - very drought tolerant and semi-deciduous, they also come up from suckers resprout after complete defoliation from neglect. One of my favourite natives

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I scarified (used a file) and soaked the 10 seeds I bought; only four of them swelled, and out of those four, only one germinated. It grew at a very quick rate and is now about one foot tall after a couple months.

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Yeah...I've tried boiling water treatment with overnight soaking, physical scarification with overnight soaking and just putting the seeds in the mix dry and watering them in.

I've had more or less the same rate of germination all three times...although with the physical scarification and boiling water I experienced a slightly higher incidence of rot.

I'm wondering if maybe some kind of smoke treatment would help these, like with some other natives?

Edited by gtarman

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