Re-wilding: passiflora incarnata

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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

So we took the first steps the other day in our experiment with planting wild plants.

One species which we were looking forward to seeing in our yard is the passionvine (Passiflora incarnata). We had saved over one hundred of these seeds from the Summer before, but while continuing our research regarding the species we had chosen, we ran into a snag.

According to the literature, passionvine seeds do best when they are fresh. Drying them out to be saved can induce a period of dormancy which they may never wake from (kinda the sleeping beauty of plants). To my understanding, this may be due to a need for over-wintering, or “cold-stratification”. In my reading though, I came across several methods which are purported to be able to help rouse stored seeds from their dormancy.

Several of them seemed conflicting so in the end I split the seeds we had into different groups. Half of all of them would either be soaked or left dry, and then half again would either be scratched or “scarified” with simple sandpaper or left whole; all other, mystical cures were rejected. Because cold stratification plays such a part with these plants, and because half of the seeds were now wet, we decided to plant them immediately before they could dry back out. Each of these four groups were planted together across two separate locations and the location and positioning of each group has been noted for record keeping.

What does this mean in terms of our hypothesis; that wild plant species are more efficient and easier to propagate than domesticated ones? In trying to restore these seeds, we employed tools and methods which “in the wild” could be readily replicated. That said, in the future, it may be even more efficient to just plant the seeds when we first pick the fruit; you could, conceivably, just spit them out onto the ground….

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