All those palm seed . . . and saguaro cactus.

This is worse than the various seed that I happen to collect at work. It is worse than the seed of various species that I brought back from Oklahoma. These are seed that I purchased online and then misplaced . . . for a few years . . . or actually several years. Some were already old at the time, so are about a decade old now. There are leftovers from seed that were sown in 2010.

There was not much expense involved. Back then, they were even less expensive than they would be now. Those that I got a significant volume of were purchased mainly because they were so inexpensive. I figured I could find homes for the surplus that grew from them later. Most of the seed were purchased from eBay. Some were randomly collected for free from my job sites.

With few exceptions, these seed are not remarkably rare. Some are common within the regions from which they were obtained. Some are in small batches of only a few, while there are more than a hundred or a few hundred of others. There are seed for several palms, many yuccas, all but one of the North American firs, and all of the North American spruces. Not all are pictured.

Some seed are in significant quantity. That is more than 300 Yucca aloifolia, and 500 balsam fir.

Neither the expense nor the scarcity of these misplaced seed is a problem. What bothers me is that after so much effort to acquire them, and after so many others put the effort into sending them to me, and after the parent plants put their effort into producing all these seed, they were wasted. As I mentioned about the palm seed yesterday, few are likely viable after a decade.

Nonetheless, all will be sown. Even if none germinate, it will be more tolerable than discarding them without trying.

These actually look as good as fresh. I will find out.



14 thoughts on “Expiration Date

  1. Tony, with all your knowledge, I know you must know how to test seeds for germination by “pre-sprouting” a few in a moist paper towel. You could try that with those that you have a lot of (as opposed to those you only have 20 of, say) to save yourself the time, space and potting mix. Just a thought.


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    1. (most) Palm seed germinates so slowly that by the time I know if the seed are viable, it will be late spring, when the weather might be getting a bit warm to leave germinating seeds out in the nursery. Yucca germinates sooner, but because it prefers to germinate while the weather is still cool at night, I want to get an early start on it. Besides, even if only a few in a large batch are viable, I would want to germinate the entire batch for those few. Because I do not expect many to be viable, I will crowd them into only a few flats. Yucca is supposed to be viable for a very long time, but they do not mind being crowded either.


    1. It is discouraging. Information is scarce about such matters, as if no one else has ever found old seed laying about. Most of what I find insists that ALL palm seeds MUST be sown within the year, which I know is not accurate.

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  2. When I was active in gardening, I was able to get germination on seed several years old. I once read a study where seed germination from the pyramids of Egypt that produced plants. I keep flats that had no growth for a couple of years before discarding them. I once get excellent germination from a flat of a plant after a couple of years.

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    1. There is a chance, and a rather good chance for some that are viable for several years. Not all of them are from 2010. Some are younger. However, they are not bacteria; and not all bacteria survives for 50,000 years.

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