One of the workshops we hope to do in the future is about seeds. In many cultures around the world, seeds have been used to make jewelry like earrings, necklaces, or bracelets. Azuero Earth Project has a book on different seeds in Panama that can be used for jewelry. I have been doing a lot of research to find out which of those plants grow here in the peninsula and could be easily cultivated.
The first seed that was the easiest to identify and collect, was Tamarindo (tamarind). We have a Tamarindo tree in our office, which makes seed collection easy. Brown seed pods, which contain orange fruit (that can be eaten) and the seed(s), fall off the tree. Once all the seeds are collected and washed, they are soaked in water until the outer layer of the seed begins to peel off. They are then ready to planted. In my experience, Tamarindo germination rates tend to be high. I have also collected seedlings, that already sprouted around the tree, and replanted them in our tubetes (tubes used to plant seeds). So far mort of them have survived the transplantation.
Another fruit tree that has nice-looking seeds, and is very common in the peninsula, is Guanabana (soursop). Luckily, our neighbors, Oz and Jose have a tree next to their house. They were kind enough to lend me a fruit to eat and then collect the seeds. Guanabana seeds must be planted as soon as they are taken out of the fruit, otherwise they will not germinate. Once they are removed from the fruit, you must soak them in warm water over night and plant them the next day. None of my seeds have sprouted yet and I planted them in the first few weeks. Maybe some of them will, but I am not hopeful. Guanabana is a stubborn plant.
Corutú is another tree that has beautiful seeds. I planted some seeds that the project already had. For these, you must make a small hole in the side of the seed to increase the germination rate. So far, three of the seeds have sprouted and died. I believe I may have cut too deep into the seed and damaged the insides. The seeds were also old, so they may have been expired.
Flamboyan is a non-native tree that grows all over the peninsula. Its flowers are bright orange and very beautiful. Its durable and intricate seeds (pictured above) are just about as beautiful as the tree itself. I have not planted any of these myself, but a volunteer who was here before me, Macy, planted some. I was planning on using her seedlings, but when we moved them to a different spot, they were eaten by a bunch of ants called, Arrieras. So it goes. Luckily we have more seeds for me to plant!
We only just recently collected the most beautiful seeds, Coral and Palo Santo. Both are bright red and perfect for jewelry making. According to my tree planting guide, to increase the germination rate, you must, like Corutú, make a small hole in the side of the seed. This is a long, difficult process when you have a lot of the seeds. I stabbed myself with a needle more times than I would like and I am not even halfway through the Palo Santo seeds. Luckily, since I have so many of them, I have room to experiment with different soils and hole sizes. If the hole in the seed goes too deep it can damage the seed, but if its too small, germination will be less likely to occur. Sometimes the seeds split if you apply too much pressure. Hopefully I will be able to find the perfect way to plant them!
There are a lot more trees and plants with seeds that can be used for jewelry making. I hope to collect and plant more in the future. Eventually we hope to plan a workshop for the artisans about using seeds to make jewelry. I believe Sandra is in contact with someone who might be willing to teach the workshop. I am hopeful for the future!