The most resistant seeds known to mankind - Moth mullein seeds -
Dr. Beal's seed viability experiment
The oldest carbon-14-dated seed that has grown into a viable plant was a Judean date palm seed that was about 2,000 years old when it was recovered from excavations at Herod the Great's palace on Masada in Israel. The Judean palm seed was was germinated in 2005 .
In spite the Judean palm seeds were a total success, in general seeds are not always easy to keep. In cool and dry storage conditions seeds tend to last from one year (onions for example) to up to five to ten years in some others. This means that in certain cases, mainly in endangered plant species, keeping the seeds is the main concern of botanists and researchers and the only way to preserve this natural heritage we have received.
In this article we will talk about an experiment initiated 120 years ago by Dr. William James Beal, then professor of botany and forestry at Michigan Agricultural College in East Lansing, Michigan, USA, Dr. Beal's seed viability experiment. Image: Moth mullein by Matt Lavin under Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 2.0).
Common name: Moth mullein.
Dr. Beal's seed viability experiment consisted on the analysis of the viability of seeds after a long time burial. After 120 years of burial in moist, well-aerated sand, 23 seeds of Verbascum blattaria and two seeds of a Verbascum sp. germinated and produced normal plants . After a 6 weeks of cold treatment, a single seed of Malva rotundifolia germinated also, producing a normal plant (2% germination). The experiment clearly shows how the average viability times to which we have been used are clearly limited and other more extensive periods can be achieved under controlled conditions.
Verbascum blattaria (Moth mullein), is a biennial herbaceous plant , native to Eurasia  that has a white or yellow corolla and yellow or pink flowers and a purplish base . It´s commonly found in waste grounds and roadsides where it may pass inappreciable to you, it has also a bitter taste .
TRADITIONAL MEDICINAL USES OF VERBASCUM BLATTARIA
Moth mullein is one of the less active in medicinal properties from the Scrophulariaceae family , having reported only certain anodyne properties.
Image Right: Common Mullein quite different from Moth Mullein. The flowers are totally different.
 The plants of Pennsylvania: an illustrated manual by Ann Fowler Rhoads, Timothy A. Block, Anna Aniśko
 The Scrophulariaceae of eastern temperate North America By Francis W. Pennell
 Let's Get Natural with Herbs By Debra Rayburn
 Introductory ecology By Peter Cotgreave, Irwin Forseth. P. 223.
 Familiar lectures on botany, practical, elementary and physiological By Mrs. Lincoln Phelps
 The 120-yr period for Dr. Beal's seed viability experiment.
Telewski FW, Zeevaart JA.
W. J. Beal Botanical Garden, Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824 USA;
 Wikipedia article on oldest viable seed.
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