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Red Kamala Dye Mallotus Philippensis Seeds
Packet of 100+ seeds fresh seeds from this seasons harvest.
These seeds are also best planted as soon as they arrive.
I will say right here at the top, of all the ways I have tried growing this plant the very best germination rate I have had is about 90% with an average 70% most of the time.
Expect anywhere from 0-100 plants from every packet of these seeds.
That’s right, maybe none, nothing, ZERO, not even one.
This fella is a gamble!
While with me this species germinates easily and consistently here now(keep reading), for other folks germination rates are really erratic.
It has a bit of a reputation among the revegetation community as being tricky and needing to be 100% super fresh.
Half a dozen years ago I decided to get to the bottom of this so I had a huge giveaway and got everyone that received a free packet of seeds from us, to let me know what they did, and what worked best for them.
I gave away ~120 packets of seeds to folks all over the world in a huge range of climates, and I had about 70 responses from folks that had success.
The weird thing that I noticed was that some had great success doing weird things that to my mind shouldn’t work.
There were folks using GA3 at near lethal rates, some cold storing the seeds or stratifying them, some germinating in water, or weak tea only, all sorts of randomness.
The total average germination was 25% within 6weeks.
But then I noticed a pattern!
The best germination, came from specific trees, regardless of treatment and conditions!!!
For 2years I kinda proved it to be fact in huge side by side trials and I was super excited about my results.
Then in the third year we had a heap of isolated rain, the results switched and I had to go back to the drawing board..
I did, it’s been a few more years, and now I have the answer.
Some trees are less protected from the sun.
As more exposed to the sun the moisture content of the pods is lower and they open quicker and more evenly, all at once.
Traditionally the pods are picked by revegetation workers when only a small % has opened so that most of the harvest is not lost.
Once opened they only hang on the pods for 1-5days before the wind and birds dislodge them so it is always a bit of a rush.
Unfortunately based on my very extensive testing this is the reason for low germination.
You MUST wait until 20% has already fallen and 70% has opened, with only a very small number still closed, and you must sort harshly, dumping all immature or light seeds.(floating doesn’t work with this species, due to the waxes and oils).
Just like soil from around the mother plants being no good for germinating the seeds(0-5%), I strongly believe that immature seeds and pods restrict the germination of nearby ripe ones, and that is something I will be testing over the next couple years.
It must be an oil, gas or chemical signal telling them not to germinate as when immature seeds are left near ripe ones I see a measurable decline(only based on a couple years observation, trials to come).
Anyway, this harsh sorting means you get far less seeds, BUT a much much higher germination rate.
I’m averaging 70% for a few years now, from several different areas.
I check the trees every few days/daily and pick only the ripe pods.
I dry them one day only, then sieve them.
I then winnow and sort the seeds allowing another 50% of the seeds to be dumped as waste while winnowing.
This ensures only the heavy fully ripe seeds remain.
Then I pack them, and with this strict processing I am getting 70% germination consistently, from all areas, even when stored for a few months before planting.(I still highly recommend planting fresh, but the trials over the last couple years suggest it isn’t as essential as other folks say).
There you go, with my seeds I reckon you have the very best odds you are gonna get, but please still consider it a gamble!
The seeds are as fresh as they come, and I have only selected the heavy perfectly ripe ones, and if surface sowing in a nice sandy soil mix I can’t see how you can go wrong?
That said you still might strike out so please don’t be surprised, or disillusioned.
When I say “70% germination” the trials generally go like this.
90%, 80%, 80%, 90%, 80%, 70%, 85%, and once a blue moon 0%.
The 0% germination still being a thing, and it drops the statistics to ~70% overall.
My standard potting mix I use for everything here including these guys.
Why grow it anyway?
It is a great revegetation plant, a highly sought after native that provides habitat and shelter to all sorts of critters, and it produces a really cool, waxy red dye.
The pods are really ornamental and get covered in this dusty red powder dye that won’t dissolve in cold water as it’s kinda waxy, but in hot water or with the addition of acids or alcohol it dissolves completely.
Looks great as a pruned hedge, drought tolerant, resistant to most insects and diseases.
that can be dissolved in a heap of different ways.
It apparently contains the chemical Rottlerin, a couple yellow and red coloured resins, waxes, tannic acid, gums, and several volatile oils.
Traditionally “Red Kamala dye” is made from the odorless, tasteless powdery coating, which is in turn made from tiny little oil glands and hairs that fall of when rubbed or shaken.
Native plant to Australia, as well as India, Malay Archipelago, Orissa, Bengal, Bombay, Abyssinia, Southern Arabia, China and a couple of other spots around Asia, as it will grow just about anywhere.
Called all sorts of things including Chenkolli, Kapila, Kuramaddaku, Kurangumanjal, Manjanampottu, Noorimaram, Ponoo, Ponnakam, Shenkolli, Sindooram, Thavatta, Monkey face tree, or as most folks in Australia know it, the Red Kamala tree.
Normally the red powder is brushed off and collected when the fruit is ripe and beginning to open.
Keep away from flames or sparks as its a bit explosively flammable, goes up like a dust explosion or silo fire…
The dye itself can be chemically extracted and dissolved by alcohol or solvents, or even just boiling in carbonate of soda resulting in a very durable red dye.
I used to be one of the main dyes for silk, but cheaper synthetics have taken over the market these days.
The red powder is also used in India to treat many ailments, especially skin conditions and the outer covering of the fruit is dried and powdered for the expulsion of tapeworms.
Roots, stems and leaves are reported to contain prussic acid and have shown to be effective in the treatment in some tumours.
The seeds themselves contain a large % of oils and fats which are used as tung oil in fast drying paint, lacquer and varnishes. I used it on my axe handle and it really seems to preserve the timber and darken up the colour a lot.
High in sapanoids the whole plant makes an effective fish poison in a pinch.
I havew used it in a stock watering hole to kill the pest fish gambusia and it had no effect on the cattle and when I went back the next year there were frogs everywhere!
That’s about it folks, and let me just say one last time so that there can be no confusion at all, NO guarantees with this fella, but please feel free to have a punt!
Sustainably harvested by me and the Mrs, no chems, no nasties no problems!!!