False Solomons seal has now germinated this spring (2013) after a two year wait. Smilacina racemosa is the scientific name and it is a little known herbal plant from North America. Medicinal usage is very similar to that of true Solomons seal. Growth is much slower though and just when I was thinking of buying more plants, earlier seed I had sown germinated. The plant flowers readily in a terminal raceme and has red berries which hang on the plant for along time.
The wait was two years so it will be a regular task each year now to harvest and sow the seed. Collect the berries when ripe and rubbing off the flesh place in a pot under your seed bench where it gets regular watering and you can forget about it for a year. A good reference for usage is Matthew Woods book on North American medicinal plants.
Having read about this herb in Richo Cinch’s book – Growing at risk medicinal herbs it went onto the must grow seed list. Seed was procured from Horizon herbs sown and in spring it promptly germinates. The seedlings were pricked out into larger pots (the root intact) to allow free root growth.
Everything is going along fine and the first true leaves appeared when the plants seemed to be dying off. I thought it was a fungal disease at first but I found in scratching around that the root was still there and the plants had gone into early dormancy.
This could have been triggered by a temporary lack of water or over hot temperatures (remember this is a high mountain plant). Anyway I stopped throwing out the pots and kept them to one side in the poly tunnel. That was over a year ago.
Well a couple of weeks ago in July little leaves poked up from the porting mix so they were alive and growing. But funny time of the year to be sprouting leaves the middle of an Australian winter!
Time to go back and read Richo Cech again about raising these plants
Well I just did and reporting back to you have found the reference explaining this behaviour. Richo says seedlings become vegetatively dormant by midsummer…..The plant then re-emerge in mid winter in mild areas and in the very early spring in very cold areas
So the plant behaviour is right on the mark.
Having joined United Plant Saver and received my first annual journal (Spring 2013) I was excited to see an article titled “Wu Wei Zi” the Chinese name of Schisandra by Glinda Watts.
Well my interest grew further when I realise that the article was talking about the American species of this famed tonic herb. I never knew that before and better yet there was the information that Horizon herbs have the seed for sale.
Immediately I was onto the web page and looking for Schisandra. Damn it was not there, conundrum number one. Patience and sure enough the seeds were listed. So off goes the order and the precious seeds arrive. It said ten seeds on the packet but really only nine were of any use. Number 10 was in pieces! A victim of the international mail journey.
Well the next conundrum – what pre treatment to give these seeds? Horizon mentioned to soak overnight sow and leave over winter for a slow but steady germination over a year. Having already delved deeply into Schisandra germination with the chinensis species I decided to give it the same treatment (see previous post on Schisandra) with an added twist of watering with seaweed solution initially to boost germination. So the waiting game continues through the pre treatment process leading to germination.
Growing these plants teaches you patience. Its interesting that the older I become the more patient I am with these herbs that have long germination times. It becomes an interesting challenge rather than a frustration.