TNAndy Senior Member Joined: 26 Aug 2012 Posts: 2 Location: East Tennessee Expertise: I live coffee
Posted Sun Aug 26, 2012, 6:16am Subject: 3-Leaf Coffee Questions
I bought 100 Kona coffee tree seedlings from a seed vendor in Hawaii last year. (I'd like to recommend him, but I just joined this forum and don't want to get my hand slapped.)
Normal coffee trees grow 'opposite' leaves--two leaves at each node on opposite sides of the stem. 97% of my plants look this way. However, I've got three plants that consistently grow three leaves in a 'whorl'. Instead of two leaves 180 degrees apart, these plants have three leaves 120 degrees apart at each node. Just as there are three leaves at each node, there are three branches at all of the nodes that have grown branches. The branches all grow in the normal, opposite two-leaf pattern.
Normal coffee trees are decussate--each pair of leaves is offset 90 degrees from the leaves below them. (Side branches grow this way, too, but the stems twist between the leaf nodes so each pair of leaves ends up level.) My 3-Leaf plants are also decussate, but the angle between successive leaf nodes is 60 degrees, not 90. With three branches at each node instead of the usual two, I'm getting 50% more branches off the trunk. If it flowers, I might get 50% more beans.
I contacted my seed vendor about this. He says farmers normally cull abnormal plants rather than waste time or fertilizer on them. I asked a couple of professors at the University of Hawaii about these plants. They were unfamiliar with the phenomenon.
Has anyone else seen this growth pattern in coffee saplings? Are these odd plants fertile? Will they make beans? What causes this? Could these plants be triploid?
You planted a whole flat of THREE-LEAF coffee plants?!? You must have sorted through hundreds of sprouts to find that many. Only 3 out of the 100 seedlings I bought were 3-leaf mutants.
I live in Tennessee. All of my tropical plants are in containers mounted on casters. I roll them outside in the Spring to enjoy the warm summer. I roll them into my sunroom in the fall to huddle together against the winter cold. I exclusively use regular Miracle-Gro potting mix (but do not recommend the moisture control version). Once the built-in fertilizer runs out, I try to use organic fertilizers from then on. I hope this helps.
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