Like many plant enthusiasts, I have spent a considerable amount of time planting seeds. Every year I grow many vegetables—my garden always includes some annual bedding plants—and I sow seeds of cover crops (winter wheat, winter rye, and buckwheat) by the tens of thousands. While I have committed vast numbers of propagules to moist soil, I cannot say that I have watched every single one sprout. Nevertheless, I certainly have observed the germination process many, many times for lots of different seeds. For these seeds of garden plants, germination is quite rapid, just a few days to maybe as much as two weeks, tops—provided that temperature and moisture are appropriate. Further, in the usual case, the embryonic root (radicle) emerges first, followed in short order by embryonic leaves (cotyledons) and the first bits of the seedling shoot (epicotyl). Sometimes, as in Garden Peas, the cotyledons stay below ground, but the pattern of radicle shortly before epicotyl is still the typical situation.

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Copyright © 2018 The Quarterly of the Virginia Native Plant Society. This article first appeared in Sempervirens Winter 2017/2018: 6-7.

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