2,000 year old seed a shuck

gardenlad(6b KY)September 8, 2005

Awhile back we talked about the Israeli experiments with old figs (or was it dates?), as reported by the NY Times.

In the article there was reference to 2,000 year old seed sprouting. According to the story, during the Blitz, seed in the London Natural History Museum which was that old sprouted from all the water sprayed on them by firefighters.

I put my good friend John Yeoman, head of The Gardening Guild, to work tracking that down. Just got a reply, and here's what he found:

>I've had fun chasing through the Natural History Museum. I tracked down (now that holidays are over) a Dr Robert Huxley in its botany dept. He knows the story well, but says that the seeds that germinated after the London blitz came from the museum's own collection and were little more than 50 years old. It seems the New York Times likes to exaggerate. The museum does hold seeds of Tudor vintage but has never tried to germinate them. Shame that. It would be interesting to eat the same cabbage once enjoyed by Henry VIII.

So I guess a 50 year old germination is not really that newsworthy..."

Even so, seems to me that 50 year old seed that sprouted just with water is quite an accomplishment in itself. Proving, once again, that Mother Nature can be very tenacious of life.

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garnetmoth(z6)

aw. nuts. that was a neat story.

So is this less-ancient date extinct anyways?

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 10:39PM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

I'm not sure what you're asking, Garnetmouth.

Frankly, I'd seriously doubt that seed from the Tudor period would sprout, no matter how it was treated. So, if that's the dates your asking about I would guess that for practical purposes they are extinct (except in those cases where people continued to grow them, generation to generation).

England does have some pretty old vegetable varieties still being grown. Carlin peas, for instance, date from the Elizabethan period.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2005 at 2:49PM
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