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Nature Weekly
Short Notes on Nature Singapore

31 August 2014 | Seeds of Garcinia cymosa |

photo This tree, belonging to the same family as Mangosteen, does not have a common name in English as it is rather uncommon. It is an introduced tree native to New Guinea. I first saw it in a park near my home in 2009 but did not pay much attention to it then. In 2012, someone wrote to me to ask about its seed, which then started my quest to dig deeper into the mystery surrounding this columnar tree --- Garcinia cymosa.

In early May, I obtained 2 seeds but did not remove the seeds in them immediately since I was still deciding whether to plant them in my pot knowing that it is a huge tree and not suitable to be in a pot. After leaving them out in the open for around 2 weeks, I decided to place them in one of my pot and observe its germination process. I did not remove the seeds but placed the whole intact fruit half-buried in the soil. Nothing happen for several weeks thereafter. I had almost forgotten about them.

photo photo Then, on 29 June, I saw a new shoot with no leaf on it sticking out from the soil near the seed. The first thought that came to my mind was that it might be the shoot from the Air Potato Vine (Dioscorea bulbifera). This same pot was the home of an Air Potato Vine, which had died a few months back. I suspected its underground tuber may still be alive. It happened in another pot where the vine in that pot died and several months later in June 2013, a new shoot of the vine appeared. After fiddling for the source of the current shoot for a while, I was still not certain of its source since I did not want to overly disturbed or even damaged the shoot. Hence, I patiently waited for a few more days until the first leaf appeared. As you might already know by now, the current shoot was indeed from the seed of Garcinia cymosa. The picture on the far left (above) is the shoot of Garcinia cymosa while the one beside it is the shoot of Air Potato Vine. They really looked the same in overall appearance.

photo photo photo photo The progression of the growth of the shoot is shown in the pictures on the left. As for the second seed, it started to sprout as well on 27 July (picture on the right), a month later than the first seed though they were planted on the same day.

Based on the observation, the seed of Garcinia cymosa takes quite a while before they start germinating, anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks. Also, it is not necessary to remove the seeds from the fruit before planting since each fruit will have only one seed most of the time though some larger fruits do have 2 seeds.

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