changsha babies, polyembryonic?, how to tell, treat?

merrybookwyrmMarch 12, 2012

Very much a newbie here; if I've missed threads that would clarify this question please direct me there.

People here give good advice about sprouting citrus seeds!

I planted one seed in each pot. Amazingly, excitingly, several changsha tangerine seeds have sprouted. Some of the little trees have two leaves, some have more at this point in time. There is one pot which has two seedlings in it. All the rest of the pots have only one seedling in them.

If I understand correctly, this two seedling pot contains polyembryonic changsha. Does this pot contain -two- separate trees or -one- tree with two trunks? If two trees, should these trees be separated? If so, when? If so, how? (eep, eep, scary thought!)

If one plant came from one seed in all the rest of the pots, does that mean that those trees are not polyembryonic?

Was reading Tom McClendon's site that has been referenced here in the past and confusing myself. His website has clear information, but the information hasn't entered my head clearly.

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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Nearly all citrus are polyembryonic, with the exception of pummelos, and King & Clementine mandarins. Also, some pummelo and orange hybrids are monoembryonic (Temple tangor & Valentine pummelo hybrid comes to mind). Most likely your Changsha mandarin is polyembryonic. The seeds will be nice and fat, and the cotyledons will be convoluted around each other. If you get multiple sprouts, you could have both the nuclear (clone and true to seed) sprout, as well as the zygotic (cross-pollinated) sprout. Usually the nuclear sprout is stronger, and will over take the zygote, and the zygote will just shrivel up and disappear. They are two separate seedlings, not a "tree with two trunks". And, your seeds with only one sprout are polyembryonic, you just won't know for sure if it's the nuclear sprout or the zygote. If it survives, most likely it's the clone. the way to find out - taste the fruit when your tree is old enough to produce fruit. You could end up with a cross-pollinated variety that is exceptional, average, or sub-par. It is sort of fun to see what you end up with, if you have enough patience to wait for fruit. Which can be many years.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 3:34PM
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Yes, a bit of confusion here.

Trees, or seedlings, are not themselves polyembryonic. It is only the seeds that are described in this way, and it simply means that the seed grows into more than one plant.
So, if you have two or more seedlings from one seed, then that seed was polyembryonic.

The two sprouts are quite separate entities although the roots may be entangled. They should be gently separated and re-potted as soon as you feel able to handle them without damage.

The complication with citrus is that if the flower was cross-pollinated, then one seedling can be a hybrid and all the others from a polyembrionic seed will be clones of the mother tree. However, the hybrid seedling does not always develop and survive. So you often cannot easily tell whether any particular seedling is a hybrid or a clone. Only if a different characteristic develops at some stage can you be certain you do have a hybrid. If you wanted a new variety, that's a good thing - but if you wanted the original variety its bad!

Particular species and varieties of citrus are fairly consistent in the percentage of their seeds which are polyembrionic, and the percentage of seedlings which are the result of sexual fertilization and are therefore hybrids (often described as 'not true to type').
For instance, pummelo seedlings are always hybrids, never clones. I don't know the figures for Changsha, but you can probably find some research paper somewhere that knows the answer.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 3:54PM
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Thank you Patty and Citrange. Matters become clearer. So off to figure out separating seedling trees.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 7:19PM
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