This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Van Tieghem contributes a paper to L'Annuales des Sciences Natu-relles on the reason why some seeds retain vitality longer than others. We have not read the original, but give the following abstract from an English source:
" It is a question wholly of the condition of the albumen. In certain oily seeds the albumen changes its character before the plant is ready to germinate, and then the sprouting plant feeds on just what it finds, and which may or may not be nutritious; but in other cases the plant feeds directly on the albuminous matter, or, in other words, on its endosperm. There are some plants which have no albumen, and these are so constituted that they can get their nourishment directly from the soil. In old albuminous seeds that fail to show, the reason is that the albumen has all or nearly all been chemically changed, and there is nothing left to give the little germ support till it is able to take care of itself." Our contemporary very well adds: " Why ex-albuminous seeds perish is not made clear".
If the pith of the paper be correctly rendered, it seems rather like saying why some seed sprout rather than why they retain their vitality. As some foresters know, seeds may be gathered from trees on one day and some the next, yet some of those seeds will grow at once, some remain in the ground a year, and some not sprout till the third year.