Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fall 2010 Spring 2011

1. What affect does being eaten have on mayapple seeds? To figure this out, I fed a captive deer 10 mayapples, or conservatively about 150 seeds. (I would have liked to feed her more but it is extremely hard to find ripe mayapple fruit that has not been eaten.) I had to clean her enclosure of all poo first - I used a shovel. Then I fed her the fruit and came back for the next four days and collected all she released. I'm grateful for latex gloves. After straining it all, I came up with two seeds. One of those seeds germinated. The other didn't, but not because it was damaged, it just didn't feel like the time was right to germinate. The seeds have a finicky dormancy mechanism that I'm beginning to unravel - I didn't treat the seeds right the first time.
I don't like their taste. Deer and raccoons do. These are pretty ripe.
They are about the size of a chicken egg.

It's in the bag.
One of the deer processed seeds.
I also fed captive raccoons about a dozen fruits. A very generous wildlife rehabilitator fed some of her animals and collected their releases for me.  I have now done this twice and both times - after sieving the stuff, I got a 30% viable return. One seed germinated the first run, the second run is in the works. I am more aware now of what the seeds need to break dormancy - so we will begin to see within a few weeks on germination rates.

The conclusion is: Deer can disperse mayapple, but they kill the seeds more often that not.  Raccoons are most definitely dispersers of mayapple. The other conclusion: Deer poo doesn't smell much. Raccoon poo smells like .... well, awful. 

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