Propagation from seed is a cost effective and efficient way of propagation. When bamboos flower and set seed, which can take place over a number of years or even decades , the natural regeneration and survival of the bamboo is ensured through the millions of seeds that the bamboo produces. In the year following the flowering of the bamboo (or years in the case of gregarious flowering), blooms tend to be concentrated in the months between November and April. Seeds tend to be generally available then from March to April onwards, however seeds in the period May to July tend to have better viability and reproductive ability.
Plants originating from seeds do take longer to develop into mature clumps than plant material derived through vegetative methods of propagation. However seed based propagation does ensure diversity of the bamboo."Different bamboos have different sized bamboo seeds
" The seeds of the Bambusa Tulda and Bambusa Nutans produce very small seeds, typically there could be 125,000 seeds per kilogram
" The seeds of the Dendroclamus Species tend to be larger than the bambusa species, however each individual type of Dendrocalamus seeds does in itself vary in size
" The seeds of Melaconna baccifera are very large and a kilogram of seed may only contain 65-70 seeds. These are around the size of a guava or small apple
The quantity of seeds produced by a clump or over a certain area (depending on the type of bamboo) also varies from species to species.
" Bambusa bambos produces seeds in large quantities, which can form dense carpets on the forest floor,
" Dendrocalamus strictus - a clump of this bamboo can produce around 30-35 kilograms of seed
However, some bamboos species do not flower at all, or it may be that there are no recorded instances of flowering as there is much still to learn about the flowering of bamboos particularly in the extremely remote areas where access is limited . Some species of bamboo do flower but do not set seed, other bamboos do produce seed but only in very small quantities, therefore seeds from these species are very difficult to obtain particularly if the seed is scattered over a large area.
As previously discussed there are problems with relying on bamboo seeds as a means of propagation as it is only available on rare occasions and its predictability cannot be guaranteed since the flowering cycle of many species is extremely long.
Two of the most common Bambusa are Bambusa Balcooa and Bambusa Vulgaris, these species flower but only very rarely. So when flowering does occur, it is extremely sporadic in nature and the seeds tend to be scattered and confined to just a few bamboo clumps at a time. Such flowering does not result in setting of seed, these species can therefore only be regularly multiplied vegatatively through traditional propagation methods. Although an alternative to this method is to propagate them from tissue cultured plants,
Q. How Are Seeds Collected?
After flowering the bamboo seed falls to the ground, although the bamboo culm can be shaken to dislodge any ripe seeds, this latter method of collection from the culm does result in a cleaner collection of seeds than if they were picked from the ground. Seeds that does fall to the ground is at risk from insects, birds, rats and other animals. It is also often difficult to collect seed from the wild as concentrations of growing stock tend to be in dense forests, and the fallen seeds of common clumping species tend to germinate in just a few weeks therefore the seed must be collected as soon as possible to ensure the quality and viability of the seeds is at its maximum.
Therefore seed collection is easier if it is controlled, this can be done by clearing the bamboo clumps of other vegetation and placing a large clean cloth or tarpaulin onto the ground where the seeds may fall, the fallen seeds will stand a better chance of survival from the elements and will be cleaner than if left to fall on the ground. Any seeds that do fall to the ground should be cleaned by shaking free any dirt and removing any insects so that the rest of the seeds during storage do not become contaminated or eaten!
It is essential that seeds are stored immediately and in controlled conditions as soon as they are collected as fresh bamboo seeds germinate better than those that are stored but provided that the correct storage conditions are maintained the viability of the seed can be maintained. Seeds need to be stored in low moisture and in cool dry conditions. The seed must not be stored in humid conditions where it is warm and damp i.e. like that of a greenhouse.
It is important to process and transfer seeds to the ideal storage conditions as quickly as possible to avoid any loss in viability. Only those seeds of a high quality with high viability rates should be chosen for storage. Care should be taken to ensure that the seeds are clean from insects, dirt and any fungal debris so as not to infect or damage other seeds which may be in stor