En EspaÑol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - May 19, 2013

From: Lockhart, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Seeds and Seeding, Shrubs
Title: Scarifying seeds of evergreen sumacs from Lockhart TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Smarty Plants, We would like to grow our own evergreen sumacs. Consulting Nokes book, How to Grow Native Plants on page 310, it says to scarify fresh uncleaned seeds for 30-45 minutes. On page 22, Paragraph 4, Nokes states ….”Large quantities of seeds may be scarified in a mechanical tumbler or gem polisher or,more commonly soaked in concentrated sulfuric acid.” My questions is two parts. What is concentrated sulfuric acid? Battery acid from the auto store? If not, where might a layman purchase concentrated sulfuric acid in the Austin, TX area? Also, what does one put into the tumbler with the seeds?

ANSWER:

Here is the standard propagation instruction from our webpage on Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac):

"Propagation

Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Treated seed and root cuttings are used for increase.
Seed Treatment: Scarify fresh, uncleaned seed for 30-45 minutes.
Commercially Avail: yes"

We found a YouTube presentation on How to Speed up Seed Germination that seems to answer at least some of your questions.

From our own How-To Articles, Scarification.

From North Carolina State University: Overcoming Seed Dormancy in Trees and Shrubs.

If you just search the Internet on "scarifying seeds" you will get lots more information but nobody seems keen on the sulfuric acid bit, nor seems able to identify where to get it.

 

From the Image Gallery


Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

More Seeds and Seeding Questions

Sagebrush for Westminster CO
August 06, 2010 - On a recent visit to Taos, NM we fell in love with the local sagebrush. We would like to plant this sagebrush in our yard. We are located near Denver Colorado. Would this plant survive and how do we g...
view the full question and answer

Growing Sophora gypsophila from seed
April 23, 2008 - Sophora gypsophila B.L. Turner & Powell Do you have any information on growing this small tree from seed? I have a few seeds and would like to try. What conditions break seed dormancy? I have grown ...
view the full question and answer

Preparation of seeds of Cosmos parviflorus for planting
July 21, 2014 - This is in regards to Cosmos Parviflorus. I reside directly outside of Big Bend National Park in Terlingua, TX. Cosmos Parviflorus grows naturally here and I have collected some seeds from a couple of...
view the full question and answer

Standing Cypress Plants in San Antonio, TX
June 26, 2013 - I purchased seeds for standing cypress 2 years ago and this spring they look beautiful. What is the best way to harvest the seeds? Also, will the current plants come back next spring or will I have to...
view the full question and answer

Will native Galium aparine be a problem in Austin garden?
March 25, 2014 - Should I be concerned that my yard is overrun with "sticky weed" (Galium aparine) in the early spring? Specifically, about five years ago I undertook converting about half my back yard into a na...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center