Ulluco: Seed update

This little blog is getting a lot more attention since I announced ulluco (Ullucus tuberosus) seeds and the stats show that ulluco is very popular among ulurkers.  Unfortunately, demand seems likely to exceed supply.  This is probably the last I’ll have to say on the subject for a while.

I have pulled the confounding potatoes out of what used to be a mixed ulluco, mashua, and potato bed (got some really nice potatoes from seed, by the way, which will probably be the topic of my next post), carefully searched every stem on our 26 ulluco plants, and even searched the soil underneath.  I’ve done a few such searches now, with diminishing returns, and I think that I have found every seed that I am going to find.
Ulluco seeds finishing indoors
The result: 48 ulluco seeds.
Seven are fully dried and stored away.  The rest are still attached to their inflorescences, which I have removed from the plants to finish inside.  After losing some to last weekend’s wind storm, I’m not in the mood for any more risk.
Ulluco is a joy compared to oca when it comes to seed maturation; no explosive dehiscence and the nutlets are quite firmly attached to the pedicels.  They seem to hang on for quite a while after they are fully formed and dry, but I figure that there is no need to rush them.
In the end, about two thirds of the seeds were found on two plants of the BK10425.2 variety, a Sacred Succulents introduction.  The rest were found on three plants of the Pica de Pulga variety.  The remaining ulluco plants belonged to the following varieties: BK10426.6, BK10427.5, an unidentified purple, and unidentified orange, and an unidentified yellow.  This is further complicated by the fact that my Pica de Pulga ullucos appear to represent different varieties.  The tubers share the same coloration, but differ in size and shape consistently.  So, I have somewhere between 7 and 10 varieties in total.
Seven ulluco seeds dried and waiting for spring
That information is not as helpful as I would like it to be, particularly since I have so many varieties of uncertain provenance, but somewhere in the mix is the magic necessary to make ulluco seeds, so if you are determined, you have a starting point.
I’ve taken a few dozen cuttings, which I am now raising inside in water as I did for oca.  I’ll hand pollinate as the flowers open and hope to get a better seed set indoors.  If that effort doesn’t bear fruit, then I have probably harvested about as many ulluco seeds as I will get this year.  If I have the luck of the Finns, I might expect one viable seed from that lot.  Of course, they were probably using different varieties, so there is really no way to predict what results I might see; I could have 100% germination or 0%.  I plan to sow them around the first of March, so we won’t know any sooner than that.

(Incidentally, dry ulluco seed weighed out at 34 seeds per 0.1g.)

Ulluco tubers are sometimes available in our seed shop.

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