Leaf of the Day: Seedling Diagrams and a Cool Seed Pot.

The Buddha Belly ( Jatropha podagrica) seedling is growing very fast. In 4 days it has gone from just showing above the soil, to a magnificent 5 inches long with two gorgeous brilliant green seed leaves. I don’t think I have ever seen anything grow quite so fast. I wanted to just remind myself of the different parts of the seedling. It’s knowledge that has lain well and truly shrouded in the mists of the years that have elapsed between the school broad bean experiments and now. The excitement of the experiments remained, though and I do love diagrams, so here are some bits of basic knowledge.

The seed:
Seed coat – (testa) the outer, protective layer that covers the seed. It is shed after the plant sprouts.
Embryo – developing plant still inside the seed. The embryo has cotyledons and the start of the radicle, which will become the root and the hypocotyl which becomes the stem.
Hilum – the scar on a seed coat at the location where it was attached to the plant’s stalk during development
Micropyle – the small pore in a seed that that allows water absorption.

The seedling. based on the soapberry tree seedlings that I have.
Cotyledon – also called seed leaves the first to show and containing some food for the plant and bearing very little resemblance to the plant which will follow.
First true leaves – the first two leaves of the plant that emerge from the cotyledon which will begin photosynthesis.
Primary root – the main, thick part of the root and the first part to grow.
Secondary root – small roots that grow from the primary root.

Looking after these little seedlings is a responsibility and I have to move some of the Desert Rose seedlings this weekend. I wish I had had one of these.
This is an article from SustainableDesignUpdate.com here
Seedling” by Brett Duncan “is a biodegradable pot you can layer into larger ones when the plant out grows it. It stresses the plant less because you don’t have to dig up its root structure and less mess because you just place one Seedling in the next size up. “

The designer Brett Duncan talks about his elegant creation.
” The psychology behind the everyday object is what intrigues me, especially the possibilities that designers have to create better and exciting experiences for others while also maintaining a level of respect for the cultures and environments in our world.
I am excited about creating new opportunities for people that will inspire wonder and curiosity, and a greater appreciation for the unusual that is found in our everyday lives.
Just to help explain some of the questions of the project Seedling, the seed starts in a sphere so that it can be surrounded by soil and nutrients, as well as moisture when it is watered to help simulate how seeds germinate naturally. Each pot has nutrients and soil combined with the biodegradable plastic.

The user can also tell if the plant needs to be watered by picking up the pot. The plastic absorbs a certain amount of the water so the elasticity changes depending on the saturation of the soil.
I believe that plants have been adapting to us for far to long, maybe it’s time we reciprocated the gesture.”

I did a quick pastel sketch of my seedling for a change.

Buddha Belly Seedling Sketch

Leaf of the Day: The Gout Plant, Biofuel and more.

I like everything about this plant. It’s quirky and striking and it’s the one with the ballistic pods which exploded in the studio a couple of days ago. One pod is still left so I have drawn that (quickly) and the remains of the shattered pod and a seed.
It has some wonderful names, Gout stick, Buddha belly, Guatemala rhubarb, Goutystalk nettlespurge, and Tartogo, as well as this splendid Latin name Jatropha podagrica. If this were my name I would, without a doubt, be a famous and sought after artist already. I may adopt it.
The Jatrophas, and there are qute a few of them, are from the Euphorbia family and native to central America. The name “Jatrophais from the Greek iatrós meaning ‘doctor’, and trophé meaning ‘food’, referring to its nutritious qualities (although this one is poisonous!) and podagrica means ‘swollen foot’ ( gouty )

When you see this odd little plant you realise why it has the name Buddha belly, from its bulbous thickened lower stem which gives it a belly (to rub for good luck of course). Another Buddha plant for this month.
This photo from Toptropicals site here shows very well its bottle shaped stem and also the two hopefully waving raised arms that are another characteristic, (this one seems to be wearing small sunglasses too). Toptropicals is an very good site and I have referred to it quite often now. It has excellent information about plants and good photos too.

My photo below from Leu shows its nicely shaped leaves and brilliantly coloured flowers…and again, the two waving arms.

Its relative Jatropha curcas, the Physic nut, or Barbados nut has recently been discovered to produce excellent oil which could be a replacement for diesel. The seeds contain 30% oil that can be processed to produce this high-quality biodiesel fuel, usable in a standard diesel engine. Last year an article in the Times was optimistic ,

“The jatropha bush seems an unlikely prize in the hunt for alternative energy, being an ugly, fast-growing and poisonous weed. Hitherto, its use to humanity has principally been as a remedy for constipation. Very soon, however, it may be powering your car.
Almost overnight, the unloved Jatropha curcas has become an agricultural and economic celebrity, with the discovery that it may be the ideal biofuel crop, an alternative to fossil fuels for a world dangerously dependent on oil supplies and deeply alarmed by the effects of global warming.

If you GoogleJatropha’ now you will find many trials and projects from all over the world growing and testing this crop.
The plant was already well know in some countries as a malaria treatment, live fencing and for candle-making and, despite its potentially fatal properties (three untreated seeds can kill a person) as an ingredient in medicinal remedies around the world, hence the name “physic nut”. There doesn’t seem to be any down side to this plant as it grows almost anywhere, really quite liking arid and harsh conditions so we watch with interest its progress.

But getting back to the Gout plant, here is a closeup of the flower head where you can see the green pods developing. It would be wonderful to draw the whole thing but I should have to, either get my own plant, or use a photo as there are only a few flowers on each plant, and I would need more than a couple of hours.

My drawing shows the one pod that remained after the first one exploded. It broke away from its central stalk which is on the left. What first drew my attention to these pods was an empty seed capsule that was sitting on one of the leaves. It looked just like a beetle. The pod divides into 3 capsules, each holding a hard, pretty little seed and the seeds look like beetles too. Fascinating.


Gout Plant Pod and Seeds