Update ….. Winter Botany Study, Part 5b: Kentucky Coffeetree Seed Planting (and a lonely avocado seed)



You may remember back in February, I shared a story about my Kentucky Coffeetree discovery. What fun it was to geek out over those massively excellent seed pods and to get a firsthand peek inside.

After dissecting several pods and finding them housing a bunch of beautiful brown undamaged seeds, I thought it would be fun to try and germinate them.

On March 27th the seeds were planted.

So into nine pots were planted nine seeds in varying condition. While planting, I jotted down this verse to remember my methods ….. “nine seeds planted in pots with dirt, their seed coats cracked with a hammer whack; seven nuts with coat intact; one the coat entirely lacked; one just dust …. hope she wasn’t hurt!” Recalling my bout of nausea in February while examining the poisonous seeds, I took great care in handling the seeds and leftover pod material, and used surgical gloves to avoid a repeat sour stomach (all was well).

Final journal page from February with dissected pod and seed

Literature describing the Kentucky coffeetree indicates it takes 2-3 weeks for the seed to germinate once the seed coat is cracked. So far I seem to be growing only mushrooms. Sigh …. But it’s early yet.

Now for the Avocado twist.

In addition to my Kentucky coffeetree seed germination experiment, and because I had 10 little pots and only 9 seeds, into pot #10 went a large avocado seed that had been sitting in water since December. Why not? The water soak had only served to split the seed coat. Maybe the avocado was waiting for potting soil?

Then, of course, I got to wondering about avocados, that huge seed, and why is the avocado seed so big (when we all want more creamy green guacamole per avocado!)? There I went again, merrily skipping down the rabbit trail of fascination, and I found the Avocado and Kentucky Coffeetree share something in common! Evolutionary Anachronism! The pairing and comparisons were surprising yet logical. Thanks to having read the book by Connie Barlow (The Ghosts of Evolution), I have a better understanding of when (in the Cenezoic) and why (giant megafauna with giant gullets) the avocado has that huge, poisonous seed.

Warning! Reading my journal page may result in fear of grocery shopping!

A detailed description of Evolutionary Anachronism in Avocados.

Thanks for joining me down the rabbit trail of knowledge! Until next time!

8 Comments

  1. OttawaJane says:

    So interesting and about avocados…I usually buy a bag of 5 smaller ones…and I have noticed that some indeed have the large seeds, yet several have very small seeds! What does that mean? Evolution? A different strain? Genetic engineering?

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    1. Good Morning Jane! Spring has sprung and tulips are mere days away from opening! How utterly fascinating about your avocado seed observations! Definitely worth pondering. I did read that because The market avocado has been aggressively cultivated for human consumption, the species may be changing attributes (eg seed size). But it may be decadedons before there’s a noticeable and statistically significant change in size. I’m not sure if a bag of 5 is a good sample size, but I also buy in bulk and have found smaller seeds. Meanwhile carry on and let’s ponder together!

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      1. memnona says:

        Beautiful and interesting lesson about avocado plant. Gorgeous work 😍😍❣️

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      2. Thanks very much, Aga! It’s fun to learn the story behind a plant! I’m glad you find the avocado interesting!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. How interesting! I am glad you didn’t have the nausea experience, but that is a great reminder when we are handling plants and seeds to wear gloves – something I hadn’t thought of to do! Thank you! It will be so interesting to see what sprouts and what happens with your avocado seed, too! I haven’t had success with that one, maybe not enough patience on my part! Have you read The Triumph of Seeds by Thor Hanson? It’s fascinating — the first chapter is all about the amazing avocado seed! I wrote a blog post about the book last year for Earth Day: https://iamchasingbutterflies.wordpress.com/2021/04/18/seeds-a-celebration-of-earth-day-april-22/ Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comments, Karen! I’m truly in my happy place when in learning mode. So much fun to get lost in the details. I haven’t read that book, but it’s now on my list. I’m so curious about the inner workings behind seed coats. I’ll also check out your post. Thanks!

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  3. goodlifecp says:

    Was your avocado organic? I read a while back that non-organic fruits and veggies often are treated with insecticides, pesticides and/or GMOs. All of which could hinder germination. I’ve peeled organic mangos with seeds that have split and started to sprout. Unfortunately, I haven’t been successful in getting one to grow beyond the stalk getting a couple of inches tall. I’ll have to do some research if I’m lucky enough to get another split mango seed. I have found organic large green mangoes the best variety – a whole lot sweeter and tastier than the red. They are only available a short time of the year. I’ve also found green mixed with the red mangoes so I had to check the PLU to determine which were the green. I had a produce person in a store that featured organic foods tell me there was no difference between the green and red mangoes. I gave him an incredulous look and set him straight, diplomatically of course 🤭! Green mangoes PLUs: 3114 (XL), 4584 (LG), 4311 (SM) – organic is identified with a 9 at the beginning of the PLU.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very interesting! I also thought there was no difference between green and red mangos. I’m sure your lesson for Mr Produce was tactfully presented. About the avocado, most likely not organic since they came from a large bag purchased at Sam’s. But you may be on to something regarding germination issues associated with chemicals.

      Liked by 1 person

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