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 Propagation Questions

Altering the flowering time of Phacelia tanacetifolia
September 08, 2008 - I have been using Phacelia tanacetifolia as a forage plant in a 1 acre and 6 acre enclosure to mass rear the Blue Orchard Bee,(BOB), Osmia lignaria for use as a managed pollinator of almonds in Califo...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover plants for a shady North Carolina yard
March 20, 2016 - Ground cover erosion control for heavily shaded area in Cary, North Carolina. Current landscapers use strong blowers for leaf control. This blows away any seeds, loose soil and mulch. Tree roots ar...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting Mexican bonebract in Floresville, TX
November 12, 2008 - My kids and I finally identified a small plant that we found growing in our pasture. There was only one and it is lovely. It is the Mexican Bonebract. What I am interested in finding out is how to tra...
view the full question and answer

Rhizobium inoculant for Leucaena and othr leguminous tree seedlings
January 02, 2007 - What sort of Rhizobium inoculant would be appropriate for Leucaena and other leguminous tree seedlings?
view the full question and answer

Proliferation of Small Palafoxia in Dallas Co. TX
June 07, 2013 - A few years ago I noticed a new wildflower I hadn't seen before in the southwest Dallas County area. I found the name to be Small Palafoxia. It was growing along the edges of HWy 67 in Duncanville ...
view the full question and answer

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