Mashua: Subterranean Seedlings

Mashua seedlings continue to arrive at their own slow pace.  Every time I get to thinking that the flat of mashua seed is done for the year, another pops up.  Mashua seedlings are surprisingly shy.  There is a lot going on under the ground.  I grew a few seeds in a pot where I could easily dig around to look for progress and found that seeds were germinating as much as 2 weeks before the seedling emerged.

Mashua seedling

Mashua germination is hypogeal; the cotyledons remain in the shell of the seed, below the surface.  Rather than becoming photosynthetic and collecting more energy to fuel growth, they use all of their stored energy to form substantial roots and shoots.  In the picture, you can see the roots and a well developed shoot emerging from the seed.  This seed germinated 9 days ago and the shoot had not yet broken the surface.

It has now been repotted at the same depth and I probably won’t see that shoot again for several days.  There is a compensation for this initially slow growth: by the time that shoot emerges, the plant is well founded and growth is very rapid.

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