PO Box 2458, Tijeras NM 87059

Mountain Gardens--finding success with plants for the high desert and East Mountains of New Mexico

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Funny Little Heart-shaped Cotyledon

Was plucking out some ptelea trifoliata (wafer ash) and found this double cotyledon. Don't know if this is a normal event or not, but thought it was worth a photo.We weren't expecting to see these so soon, either.

The germination instructions said that they could take two (2!) years to germinate using a regimen of two months heat/ two months cold/two months heat...and so on. We put it in the fridge for two months, and darned if the seeds didn't start germinating the first time on the heat mat. None of the other ptelea seed had a double cotyledon either. Hmmm. Planted it even though the seedlings may be flawed.

Still exciting whenever any reportedly difficult native germinates well. And this is one that we haven't been able to find anywhere else (got the seed from prairiemoon.com). It will probably be at least five years before it goes over to the shop; it's supposed to be a slow growing little tree. Native to New Mexico, it's one of the woodland understory trees, but will take a wide range of conditions including full sun and drought. It has a pretty white flower in late spring, a lemony aroma that may or may not be objectionable. If kept cut back it will form a bushy tall shrub, but can be kept to a single trunk, too. It's a favorite larval food of the giant swallowtail butterfly.

Another name for the wafer ash is hoptree--it used to be a substitute for hops in beer. And since it's not an ash, fraxinus, it won't be plagued by the ash borer when it arrives.

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