Forestry

Why I love and collect animal poop (stratification and scarification of tree seeds)

Stratification is applying winter conditions to tree seeds to break the dormancy of the embryo. Typically completed by layering seeds within moist soil and subjecting them to cold temperatures for a specified amount of time, the term was coined in the 1664 publication Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber available for free here. The book is in the public domain but I have not yet been able to dive in fully. However this process does not explain my love for seed-laden animal scat.

Scarification is another phenomenon many tree seeds need to undergo in order to germinate. In nature this is typically accomplished by fire, microbial life or by exposure to the acids in an animal’s digestive tract. The last of those examples is why I enjoy finding fox or coyote (unconfirmed presence but wouldn’t be surprising), possum, raccoon or deer scat containing persimmon trees. Seeds in scat can be immediately planted while nature provides the stratification.

Otherwise, seeds need to be scarified in any number of ways. Mechanical scarification is the act of sanding, filing, etc the outer layer of seeds making them permeable. Chemical scarification like subjecting seeds to solutions in extreme pH levels (acid or base) can yield similar results. Lastly exposing seeds to hot water is also effective. However they need to be planted immediately as seeds are unstable after this process!

There was a nice mound of small canine scat in front of my garden bed. Maybe the animal was attracted by mice who had made homes in my composting manure layers? I hope it is still there when the snow melts!

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2 thoughts on “Why I love and collect animal poop (stratification and scarification of tree seeds)

  1. Pingback: What animal made this huge scat specimen? | thegreenergrassfarm

  2. Pingback: Experimenting with Persimmon Seed Planting | thegreenergrassfarm

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