Collecting seeds from Witchhazel?

stoloniferous(6)February 25, 2008

Next year I want to collect seeds from my witchhazels to make available to people. Since the seedpods eject their seeds instead of politely holding on to them for me to come along to collect, I can see that this is going to take a bit of planning! Can anyone here tell me how to collect the ripe seeds?

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I've never tried it myself, but I think I've read that one can tie a bag around the nearly ripe seed pods to hold the seeds.

I know I read a story about someone who had cut some of the flowering branches, brought them inside, and at some point heard a series of loud bangs. They later realized that the old seed pods had exploded.

I hope the bag suggestion works. I'm not sure if a pillow case or something else that breathes would work better than plastic.

Good luck,


    Bookmark   February 25, 2008 at 3:07PM
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Hahaha, thanks! Oh dear, that's exactly what I was hoping wouldn't be necessary. Each seedpod only contains two seeds. That's a lot of little baggies!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2008 at 4:56PM
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naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan(5B SW Michigan)

LOL, a long time ago when I was a kid, I brought witch hazel branches home in the fall because I thought my mommy would like the weird seed cases on them. Yup, you guessed it, after a few days they shot all over the living room. I remember having to vacuum up my "mess".

If the plants are nearby, I'd suggest watching in the fall for the first couple to open. Then collect unopened many as you want...and bring them into a warm, dry place and keep them inside a fine mesh bag, screened bug box, etc. The seeds should be mature by then and the capsules should open soon. You could cut them open if you were in a hurry. You would avoid bagging outside this way. If you do bag outside, try a fine tulle fabric or cut up sheer curtain fabric. Moisture holding baggies don't sound like a good way to get non-moldy dry seeds to me. I'm not even sure the capsules would open. I think they need to dry in order to pop open and shot the seeds. Also, look for branches with several capsules close together and you could get them all into one piece of mesh fabric.

A few times I have walked in a forest with many witch hazel shrubs on THE dry fall afternoon when all was ready and could hear the seeds hitting the dry leaves on the ground. It was a very cool experience I don't expect to have again since I no longer work in that forest.

Witch hazel is a great plant. I hope you can get your seeds collected.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2008 at 8:34PM
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Thank you naturegirl! What a fabulous story from your childhood! :) I look forward to gathering a box of exploding pods!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2008 at 10:44PM
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In my area I collect the capsules the first or second week of October. I put them in a brown paper bag in a warm place like a sunny window or car parked in the sun. Within two weeks all the seed will be expelled, it sounds like popcorn going off.
Sow the seed right away while the ground is still warm and it will come up following Spring. If you don't get it sown right away it will take two years to germinate.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2008 at 8:16AM
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Fascinating Sam, and thanks! More than anything, I'm interested in collecting the seeds to make available for trade, since I already have a patch of witchhazel. Are there any tricks you know of for keeping the seeds from going into that dormant state for a little while? Or would I just do best to include a disclaimer with any witchhazel seeds that I trade? Thanks!

(Yikes, I'm so desperate to start gardening that I'm already planning my seed-collecting for next November! Hah!)

    Bookmark   February 26, 2008 at 10:17AM
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