The Secret World of Ambrette Seeds

by | Mar 8, 2015 | Anya's Garden Perfumes, natural aromatics, raw materials of perfumery | 1 comment

Oh, the incredible beauty of the inner chambers of ripe ambrette seeds! I have been growing a patch of them for several months, chronicled here and here. Last night I sat down for another session removing the seeds from the hairy, prickly pod – ouch! The pod is made up of five segments, or locules, and I discovered the easiest way to “open” them was to pull them apart from the pointed, non-stem end. I’ve taken some photos of the inside of the locules before, but last night I was determined to get a photo or two with most of the seeds lined up. Sounds easy? Not. When you pull the fully-ripened pod apart, no matter how gently, many of the seeds tend to drop down into the bowl or make a leap for freedom, flying about.

Interior of ambrette seed locule, showing funiculus still attached to ripe seeds.

Interior of ambrette seed locule, showing funiculus still attached to ripe seeds. Right-click the image and choose “View Image” to see more detail.

This time, after I successfully got some nice interior shots, when I viewed them on the computer screen, I was delighted and surprised to see such detail, especially the funiculus.  Even though I’m a botanist, I had to research the term for the thin lifeline attached to the seeds, since it’s been years since I practiced botany on this level. The funiculus provides the nourishment to the seed as it grows. On some seeds, you can see the funiculus start to detach from the seed. I searched the Internet for hours trying to find the right term for this plant part, and only had success when I switched from searching it under ambrette seed and switched to tomato. There isn’t much info on growing, harvesting, anatomy, or morphology of ambrette available.

Other observations: the lovely, soft, silky lining of the locule is snowy white. In earlier harvests, it’s tan. Don’t know if that’s because they were harvested early, and the snowy white is the proper time, or what. All the seeds smell the same, and I’m sad to report, they’re rather weak in scent. This is my first time growing such a big batch of ambrette, and I have to grow more and try to figure out why mine have a weak scent. It may be because they just don’t obtain maximum scent in my sandy limestone soils. The seeds from India are very strong. I also didn’t fertilize the plants as much as I should have, so next time, they’ll get mounds of compost. Hopefully, that will help boost the scent. I know that others are planning to grow the seed this upcoming season, and I’m going to keep in touch with them. Different climates, different soils, and different fertilization amounts may have an effect on them, from yield to scent.

Closeup of harvested ambrette seeds

Closeup of harvested ambrette seeds

Please also enjoy the close up of the seeds in my harvest bowl. Such beautiful chambered nautilus type striations, such calm and soothing aesthetics. Oh, the seeds do taste wonderful, and a few in coffee or tea make a yummy treat. I also like to just pop a few in my mouth and enjoy them.

This crop got planted late last year, in July. They’re supposed to be planted in April, and a new crop will be started next month. In the meantime, my ragged-looking plants are still flowering! It’s such a joy to look over the far side of the garden and see a huge yellow flower, or flowers, brightening the day.

1 Comment

  1. Rita McClure

    I would also loveeeeeeee to have a few pods of these and anything else you are so graciously sharing….

    Thank you sooooooo very much.


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