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Saturday - June 23, 2007

From: Boerne, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Seed pods on Acer grandidentatum
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Hi, we have three young Big Tooth Maples that are doing very well in our pasture. We bought them already established and small. However, we would like to start some. Do they produce a seed?? What would you suggest. We have noticed some green pods with brown leaves on each of them recently hanging on the trees. Are these seedlings and if so, what would be the best way to start them. Thank you..


The green pods with brown leaves on your Acer grandidentatum (bigtooth maple) are the seeds called samaras. Here are more pictures from the USDA Plants Database.

Jill Nokes in How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest has a thorough treatment of propagation from seeds of Acer species, in general, and A. grandidentatum, in particular. It would be well worth your while to read it. You might check your local library for a copy or you can buy your own copy in most book stores. She points out that germination is tricky in the maples because the seed dormancy needs to be broken.

She recommends collecting the seeds from the tree (rather than using ones that have fallen to the ground) when "the seeds inside are firm, filled out, and dark brown." The seeds for bigtooth maple should be ready to collect in August or September, but you should continue to check their maturity. To break the dormancy, they should be cold stratified at 41° F in moist media, such as sphagnum moss or pearlite for approximately 90 days. When the seeds start to sprout, they should be planted in small containers. They can be transferred outdoors after danger of frost is past.

Both Jill Nokes and Utah State University have instructions for planting the seeds directly outdoors in the fall without stratification in prepared beds containing loose organic matter. The soil in beds needs to be moist but not wet.

The US Forest Service has more information about germinating bigtooth maple seeds.



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