Successful Growing of Wiichiikansh from seeds 

Background

Hemlock water parsnip (Sium suave) is a perennial wildflower native to North America. The James Bay variety of the plant, commonly known as wiichiikansh , grows in coastal tributaries within reach of the highest high tide in wet soils with brackish to freshwater salinities(0-4ppt). ). Not much is known about the ecology of the plant, but Cree land users observed that Wiichiikansh roots and corms are eaten by migratory waterfowl. Despite being a prolific seeder, there are few mature Wiichiikansh in the wild.
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*wisconsin variety*

Germination(methods)

 

Seventy-eight seeds from each source were planted on August 13, 2021, in three seedling trays with rock wool as a growing medium. The rock wools were saturated with tap water (0 ppt). The planted seedling trays were kept in an indoor growing tent with LED grow lights set to illumination for 12 hours.

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*James Bay variety*
Methods

Seeds collection

 

Seeds were collected from 2 sources in James Bay, and one source was obtained from Wisconsin for comparison.  The James Bay sources came from traplines CH6 and CH4.  Seeds were collected from these sources around September and allowed to mature before drying them and putting them in paper bags.  Seeds are then stored in the fridge.  Seeds from Wisconsin were purchased from an online distributor.

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Key Findings

•We successfully develop a technique to grow Wichiikans from seeds

•It took about 60 days for Wichiikans seeds to grow into 15-cm tall seedlings, although the germination rates were low. An average of 17 seedlings emerged for every 78 seeds planted from each source, or roughly 22%.

 

•Seedlings that received nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium had better growth rates and more robust roots than the seedlings that only received nitrogen or plain tap water.

 

•The Wisconsin variety of the species is distinctively different than the James Bay variety in terms of morphology

 

•The James Bay variety was more resistant to aphid infestation than the Wisconsin variety

 

•Inside the grow tent, temperature above 25 °c and poor air circulation was harmful to the plants

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*Aphid pests found on the plants*

Recommendations and Prospects

•Doubling the number of seeds planted could increase the germination rate

•Test planting of Wichiikans in selected sites near the town

•Giving seedlings to trappers for planting in their traplines

•Mass production inside a bigger greenhouse and ‘farm’ for seeds and corms as a replacement for corn

•Develop a pest management treatment for seedlings    

This partnership is between:
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James Bay Eeyou School