Ambrette Seed Growing North America 2015 and a Giveaway

Tuesday - 14 April 2015

Update: The ambrette seed giveaway is closed. Over 35 packets will be mailed out this week, and I wish everyone to have a fruitful harvest!

I have quite an important update to my ambrette seed growing and harvesting project of 2014-2015. I have 17 ounces of ambrette seeds from the harvest with no scent. I have one ounce with a lovely, strong scent. How did this happen? I’m sharing my experience growing this plant, because it is so valuable to perfumery, and I believe a number of artisan distillers and perfumers will be growing it this summer. I am willing to send out some seeds to those in North America, if your wish to try your hand a growing them. It will help if you’re in Zone 8b or higher, but if you start them early, and find a warm, sunny microclimate on your property, you may be able to grow them to a successful harvest. More about the free seeds at the end of this article.

Here’s what I found I was doing wrong: I was waiting until the pods had dried on the stalk, and perhaps had split open. Wrong! There are so few photos of ambrette pods on the Internet, yet alone any instructions on when to harvest and process them, I followed the lead of photos showing dried pods.

Image shows plump, colored ambrette seed pods and brown, dried seed pods. Harvest the plump, colored ones and follow instructions, below.

Image shows plump, colored ambrette seed pods and brown, dried seed pods. Harvest the plump, colored ones and follow instructions, below.

I was down to the last few plants and pods in late March, and after doing some research, and interpreting what they were hinting at, I decided that the pods may be best harvested before they dry on the stalk. So, you see a photo of some plump, colored pods that I harvested earlier this winter, and didn’t use because I thought the dried ones were good. I was so busy I didn’t get a photo of the final harvest of closed, plump, colored pods that I forgot to take a photo of them. When you grow them, harvest ones at the same stage of growth as the ones on the left.

Research indicated that in India, the pods are laid out on the ground to dry in the sun, and when dry, beaten with sticks to break up the husk, winnowed, and the seeds collected. I can’t put plants out to dry in humid, rainy Miami, so I just brought them inside, and allowed them to dry at 78F, my ambient room temperature with air-conditioning, and low humidity. They were loosely mounded in a large bowl, and allowed to dry for three weeks or so.

I open the pods by hand, pinching the pointed end, and peeling back the internal segments, and allowing the seeds to fall into a bowl. The meager one ounce I got from this harvest smelled fabulous, so feel my pain from the wasted/improperly-harvested pods, but learn from my error.

If you’d like to receive some of the unscented seeds, which should be very fertile, and grow plants that WILL produce scented seeds when properly harvested, leave a message in the comments section, and I’ll write you privately for your address.

In the meantime, you may wish to view some of my earlier posts on my ambrette growing by reading here and here.

40 thoughts on “Ambrette Seed Growing North America 2015 and a Giveaway

  1. David

    Hey there. I’ve only just recently signed up for you email updates. This is only your second post that I’ve read.

    But I’d be thrilled to have some of your seeds. I’m in New Orleans — Zone 9 a or b depending on who you ask — AND I’ve been in the process of changing my yard over from a traditional lawn to a (mostly) native-species meadow…. lots of nice sunny spots : ). We’re full of bees buterflies and birds these days and totally pesticide free.

    …Love to hear from you and looking forward to reading many more of your posts.

    Best,
    DDJ

    Reply
  2. Mesha Munyan

    Thanks for your labor of love to get the scent, Anya! I would love to give it a go. Let me know an address for you so I can return the favor with a gourmet lavender angustifolia I have distilled. Thanks for sharing,
    Mesha

    Reply
  3. Suzy L

    How fascinating! What a wonderful giveaway to help us create our own. And to learn from your trials is invaluable. Thank you for your generosity Anya.

    Reply
  4. Roger

    A very kind offer. I am in Zone 10 and would like very much to learn to grow Ambrette. This whole scent thing is interesting.

    Thank you
    Roger

    Reply
  5. Bonnie

    As a professional herbalist, I find there is much in common with being an amateur (in the true French sense) perfumer plantwise. The medicinal properties of different parts of plants vary according to the season and the part of the plant you are using. The same holds true for the aromatic propertiesof plamts since the aromatics are very often the medicines! These are the guidelines I usually follow when harvesting.
    Buds: late winter, very early spring.
    Sap: Spring
    Healing Resin: hottest part of the year.
    Leaves: in the morning after the morning dew just before or at early flowering. Although some plants like the sages are best harvested on a hot afternoon.
    Flowers: at peak flowering during the time of day depending on the flower and when it is most fragrant or resinous. For example: chamomile in the early morning, calendula in early afternoon when it’s resin is at its peak and Jasmine tobacco after sunset
    Fruits: At peak maturity and dried.
    Seeds: taken out of the pod and dried. For example: echinacea seed.
    Roots: In the late autumn after the foliage has died back. For example: elecampane, valerian, dandelion

    While I would dearly love to experience growing Ambrette, it’s place is not here in the great white north of Québec.
    I love your blog
    Merci for your sharings <3

    Reply
  6. gayle

    Oh, Anya! What a fabulous discovery! I know how frustrating it is to try & find info that would uncover the secrets when it comes to germinating exotic seeds, planting an exotic plant in the right place so it will thrive, or even searching for rare seeds that will hopefully “catch”. But to unlock this secret regarding fragrant ambrette seed vs dried seeds for planting is amazing! So, thank you for sharing this with those that read your informative blog! I would be thrilled to have some ambrette seed from you to grow in zone 11!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  7. Jenn Curtis

    I would love to try with the ambrette seeds if you have any left by the time you see this post. I live in Medford, Oregon, zone 8 but have the type of summers here to grow them successfully. Thank you for the information on when to harvest these seeds. I will let you know how they do here. Should be good and very interesting .
    Thank you,
    Jenn Curtis

    Reply
  8. Sandi Shee

    Hi I would like to get some seeds to grow in Singapore. I will send you a self address envelope with stamp on it. Let me know if this is viable. Thanks. It is so much fun reading your article and they are so informative.

    Reply
  9. MD Fairchild

    Hi Anya!
    Good for you, discovered the way to do it right. A little trail and error so much more poignant the story of loss…At least you got some scented ones so as to know the difference. There must be that window of opportunity when the volatile oils are intact protected by the husks then freed by drying. Of course I would love to get a hold of a few of the unscented ones to try out. Email me or 1ll call you. Thanks again for your offer to share. M

    Reply
  10. Barry

    I would love to try growing this in Vancouver, Canada. My green thumb is currently growing oranges, lemons, coffee and passion fruit up here in Canada, all of which get to the stage where we harvest the fruit. I would be happy to pay some nominal fee to get some of your ambrette seeds.

    Reply
  11. Jeanie

    I’d be delighted to receive some of those ambrette seeds. Thanks for the excellent (photographic!) harvesting information. I’ll let you know how the seeds do here in Tucson.

    Reply
  12. Jessica

    Hello, I’m in zone 7b, it’s a mild climate, and I would love to try growing some of these from seed. I’m sure they smell divine, thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  13. Tania

    i’d love to try this… We’re preparing to move to a spot with some land so I can grow and distill more of my ingredients.
    Thank You!

    Reply
  14. Maggie Mahboubian

    So the seeds are THAT tiny?!! Great post! I’d love to plant a few and will cherish them like Truffula trees.

    Reply
  15. Hemla

    Ooh! I would like to recieve seeds!
    Just yesterday as I was collecting leaves from my garden to tincture I thought of what a depth of knowledge you must have in gardening as well as aromatic plant gardening…. I enjoy when you share on these topics.
    Hemla

    Reply
  16. Becky Jo Schindler

    Hi there,

    Thank you for this fabulous offer. I would love to try my hand at growing these!!!

    Becky

    Reply
  17. Alice Mae Lewis

    Would love to try my hand at growing some! I’m up here in Central Florida along the Gulf coast so the area would be good. Am in the process of turning my small yard into a landscape of edible, medicinal and, of course, fragrant plants! (More bees, butterflies and hummingbirds please! hahaha) And thank you for the information on harvesting. Have loved your posts!

    Reply
  18. Linda

    What a great gesture to share these. And your growing trials are a wonderful lesson. I would love to grow ambrette – I have been fascinated with the scent from the first time I smelled the essential oil. Will they grow in zone 5b?

    Reply
  19. Alexandra Moyer

    I see you have a lot of interest in the seeds already, and I don’t know whether I’m too late…but if not, I am in Zone 9a (officially–it’s actually been more like 10a the past couple years) and would LOVE to try growing ambrette!

    Reply
  20. Anya Post author

    Hi Everyone:

    I’m compiling everyone’s email addresses and the seeds should go out early next week. Sandi, yes, you can send me an envelope, since you want them shipped to Singapore. Anyone else outside of the USA, same deal. Write me privately, and I’ll provide my address.

    A few folks in cold zones are asking for the seeds, and, other than Noelle, who has a greenhouse, you’ll not have success with these long-season crops – sorry.

    Best wishes,
    Anya

    Reply
  21. Sandi Shee

    Hi Anya,

    Thanks. Could you provide an email so I could write to you privately? So happy you could accept this arrangement. I bought some ambrette seed in hope to grow them from this Indian seller but the seeds I have gotten was shriveled and dried up nothing like your juicy looking seeds. I hope to grow them successfully here in Singapore.

    Thanks in advance,
    Sandi

    Reply
  22. Gabriela

    If you still have seeds, I will give it a try at growing. I am in California zone 9B, although I live in a micro-climate that is warmer than my surrounding area.

    Reply
  23. Horton Tran

    Hi Anyas,

    I just wonder if you still have some Ambrette seeds available to give away? I live in Texas. Let me know if you still have some for this season.

    Once again,
    Thanks so much and have a wonderful weekend!

    Reply

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