Yesterday I harvested two ulluco (Ullucus tuberosus) seeds – possibly the first collected anywhere since the 1980s.
I harvested a third ulluco seed today and have counted an additional 21 on the plants. I also discovered a third plant with seeds today, of the variety BK10425.2, so I now have seeds on two different varieties. That number is likely to climb as my eye becomes more experienced. Ulluco seeds are not easy to spot and my ulluco bed is a jungle, so it takes quite a bit of work to search for them.
I’ve found no seeds toward the center of the bed and I do all my brush pollination along the outside edge, so this suggests that hand pollination is helpful.
Anyway, regardless of whether or not any of them germinate, I can at least bring ulluco seeds into the age of the digital camera.
(I was going to apologize for the poor quality of these photos, but then I realized it is absurd to apologize for bringing you photos of something you’ve never seen before!)
|This is the ulluco nut that I collected today. It fell free when I jostled the leaf.|
|Ulluco seeds are not as small as oca seeds, but aren’t packed into convenient pods.|
This makes them harder to find. The dry down to about a 2mm diameter.
|Three ulluco nuts in the later stages of drying. They look like little maces.|
The thickened and darkened pedicels are the easiest way to spot the seeds.
|Here is a seed that is almost ready. They develop pronounced “fins” in the last couple of days.|
|These are seeds that are in an earlier stage of maturation (center and upper left).|
They should be dry in about a week.
Ulluco tubers are sometimes available in our seed shop.