seed collecting almanac

Porokaiwhiri Pigeonwood / Hedycarya arborea

In October, almost a year after the flowers on female trees have been pollinated, the clusters of drupes on the porokaiwhiri begin to turn orange. This is the sign that we need to get out and collect the seed.

If it is going to be sown soon and not stored, then green seeds might be just as profitable as the bright orange, ripe ones are. I have often found that seeds from green fruits germinate more quickly than those of ripe fruit.

If on the other hand you are collecting for a seed bank where the seed will be stored in long term cold storage, it is better to wait until the fruit ripens and the seed develops dormancy so that it stores well.

Porokaiwhiri seems to be less well known than it deserves. I know that it is not known as a timber tree and it doesn’t grow tall enough to reach up into the canopy of a forest so it doesn’t feature in the classification of forest. Despite this, porokaiwhiri is a really important part of a restored forest. All of the native bush in this area is regenerating after clearance for farms and timber milling some time in the past.

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Well established bush has a lot of porokaiwhiri in the understorey. Younger, less established has more mahoe and other quick growing shrubs and small trees. So porokaiwhiri may be slower to establish but more persistent in established forest. This is a trait we are keen to exploit. Once we can get a few established the prolific seeding of porokaiwhiri will mean that the forest floor is carpeted with seedlings, the understorey is on the way to recovery and year-round food supply for native birds is so much more secure.