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Autotoxicity - isn't nature fascinating?

I came across this phenomenon while studying biology at a French university.  It's birth control for plants.  Some plants produce compounds (I suppose they are released into the soil) which are toxic to their own seedlings.  Only those that fall, or get carried, to a safe distance are able to grow.  So the parent plant protects its own space and its supply of water, air and light from competition.

I'd never seen this in action until now.  I rehomed a mature Fatsia japonica because it would look out of place in the mixed hedgerow I'm planning for that border.  Within a few weeks, I was finding baby ones all around the area it had come out of.  It had never self-seeded before in the five years I'd had it.  

I'm carefully digging them out and potting them up, ready for the next fund-raising plant sale.


  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 20,901

    Maybe they do that to give the young a better chance to grow? 
    Annuals and biennials die after setting seeds.  Maybe scattering the seed gives them fresh ground to germinate in.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 6,115
    Fascinating indeed! I have a young Walnut tree, about 7 years old, I think. It exudes the chemical compound Juglone to kill off the surrounding competition, never seen a walnut seedling beneath it, I wonder if it does the same thing and kills it’s offspring as well? Mind you, it hasn’t stopped the rampant weeds underneath, I constantly have to weed underneath it 🙄 
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,049
    Its a shame that some of these people on benefits, who have 6,8,10 kids, boast about their holidays abroad, giant TVs in every room, etc, dont have this!!
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