Rhodiola seed – Tiny Survivors
The seed of Rhodiola rosea has many unique characteristics, the first being its size. 1-2 mm is it for stature, shiny reddish-brown, and 1200 of them weigh out at a whole gram. The tiny seed carries an immense amount of genetic diversity and robust viability. Also within the genetics is the sex of the future plant.
The shell of the rhodiola seed has a protective coating which must be broken by freezing winter temperatures in order for germination to occur. Growers and botanists call this breaking of the seed’s dormancy ‘winter stratification’. Other ways to ready the seed for germination are to place the seed in air tight bags in the freezer or to apply a natural hormone called Gibberelic acid. The latter method requires frost-free conditions as the seedling must build up its tolerance to colder temperatures.
ARRGO farmers normally obtain germination rates of 85 – 95% under the right circumstances. Germination in the wild is noted to be low, in the range of 20-30%.
Why the difference? It’s part of Rhodiola’s survivor instincts. The seed requires light before it will germinate. Rhodiola farmers note that the tiny seeds germinate in early spring as soon as the snows melt away. The plants grow slowly and may be only a few inches tall after a full growing season. As the farmer weeds the seedlings, more Rhodiola seeds are exposed to sunlight and the farmer may find that a new set of seeds will germinate.
In addition, sufficient rainfall and cool summer weather are key to seedling survival – too hot and too dry = no Rhodiola. The seed is viable for many years though, and if all conditions are met 😉 – yay!
Rhodiola seed – tiny and delicate-looking, but in reality built to survive cold Canadian winters and thrive in our summers.