Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Sources for Eustoma exaltatum (Texas bluebells)
October 01, 2015 - Could you list sources for seeds for eustoma (texas bluebells)?
view the full question and answer

Starting Antelope Horn Milkweed Seeds
March 08, 2013 - I recently found a sealed plastic bag containing milkweed seeds in a cabinet drawer that I had gathered more than a year ago, (maybe two years ago). These are the "antelope horn" milkweed I think it...
view the full question and answer

Annual Native Plants for Interplanting in Iowa
January 20, 2015 - I'm looking for suggestions for annuals that will flower from seed or from spring plants. I want to use them to fill in the space around newly planted coneflowers and asters that I fear will look spa...
view the full question and answer

Need information about broadcasting wildflower seeds in a pasture 70 miles east of Dallas, TX.
April 20, 2011 - We recently moved to upper east TX - 70 miles East of Dallas. I would like to broadcast wildflowers in our pasture. I'm assuming I'll need to wait until next fall, but not sure about that. Can you t...
view the full question and answer

Planted bluebonnets won't prosper in Bluff Dale, TX.
April 24, 2013 - I have planted bluebonnet seed several years (this last year we planted inoculated seed) always the same results -germination, growth to 4-6 leaf stage, then very pale stunted growth, bronzing. soil t...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.