En EspaŅol

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

Wednesday - July 24, 2013

From: Elmendorf, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Seeds and Seeding, Shrubs
Title: Propagating Silky Sophora by seed from Elmendorf TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have some seed for the Sophora nutalliana. What is the best way to germinate this seed?

ANSWER:

This USDA Plant Profile Map for Sophora nuttalliana (Silky sophora) shows that it grows naturally in Bexar County, TX. You can follow the plant link to our webpage on this plant, but we don't have a lot of information on it. From Vascular Plants from the Gila Wilderness we found a little more information, but no propagation instructions. There are five plants, all native to Texas, all in the Fabaceae family:

Sophora nuttalliana (Silky sophora)

Sophora gypsophila (Guadalupe mountain necklacepod)

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel)

Sophora tomentosa (Yellow necklacepod)

Styphnolobium affine (Eve's necklace) - the only one not in the Sophora genus

We looked at all of the webpages from our Native Plant Database and found no specific instructions for seed germination in any of them. So, we got creative and looked on the Internet for "propagation of fabaceae." Guess where we found it? On the Australian Native Plant Society website on the Fabaceae (pea) family. Here are the instructions they gave:

"The seed of pea-flowers is shed annually. When the seed is ripe the pods turn brown and split to release the seeds. By keeping watch on the ripening pods it is fairly easy to collect the seed before it is shed. In some cases, however, the pods are attacked by insects before the seed is fully ripe and this can result in the loss of much of the viable seed.

The seed has a hard coat which, in most cases, is impervious to water and germination will normally not occur unless some sort of pretreatment is first carried out. In nature this hard coating is designed to be broken down by the heat of a bushfire to allow the species to re-colonize burnt out areas.

"This effect can be replicated in a number of ways but, for most species, the easiest is to pour boiling water over the seeds and allow them to stand overnight. The next day any seeds which have swollen are ready for sowing and can be removed; the remainder of the seeds can be treated with boiling water again and the process repeated for as long as necessary.

Another method of pretreatment is to rub the seeds between sheets of sandpaper to reduce the thickness of the outer coating so that moisture can penetrate.

The seed usually germinates well by conventional sowing methods in seed raising mixes. Pre-germination, by sowing into a closed container containing moist vermiculite or a similar material, is also a useful method. Using this method, germination usually occurs in 1-2 weeks and when the root has reached about a centimetre or so in length, the seedling can be placed into a small pot of seed raising mix."

Since this is basically the same instruction given us on germination of the iconic Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), also a member of the Fabaceae family, we thought it was worth repeating. Hope you speak metric and know what a centimetre is because we don't. A couple of the pictures below (all from our Image Gallery) show seed pods of the plants we have listed, and one is the seed pod from the Texas Bluebonnet.

 

From the Image Gallery


Guadalupe mountain necklacepod
Sophora gypsophila

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Yellow necklacepod
Sophora tomentosa

Eve's necklace
Styphnolobium affine

Silky sophora
Sophora nuttalliana

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

More Shrubs Questions

Grapeland, TX is NOT Grapevine, TX
July 25, 2013 - I submitted a question and today received my answer. I do thank you for this valuable service. However, I stated that I lived in East Texas in GRAPELAND, Tx. Nan Hampton answered me and said that a...
view the full question and answer

Moisture as trigger for Cenizo bloom
July 17, 2006 - Does the cenizo bloom because it has had water on its leaves and stems?
view the full question and answer

Evergreen pet-safe shrubs for house and screening in McKinney TX
April 15, 2010 - Looking for shrub, preferably evergreen, to plant near the house that can handle wet ground and is pet (dog, cat, horse) safe. The area became boggy after we had an underground water leak that is now ...
view the full question and answer

Questions about care and pruning of Mexican Plum and Mountain Laurel in Austin, TX.
January 24, 2012 - I have a couple of questions regarding tree care and pruning. I have a Mexican Plum (Prunus mexicana), about 10 years old or so. I would like to prune it. Is it ok to prune now in late wi...
view the full question and answer

Edibility of Washington Hawthorn berries from Williamsport PA
February 22, 2014 - Please tell me if Washington Hawthorn berries and leaves are edible and if so, how to prepare them. Thank you!
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