You know how it is... you get to a certain age and the pressure builds for you to germinate. But what happens if you're well past your prime and your seed has seen better days? Well that arch enemy of superstition, Science, can step in and encourage a fresh spurt :
Seeds which have been stored away since the time of George III have been persuaded into new life. Scientists from the Millennium Seed Bank, operated by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, have induced seeds from three species to germinate. They had been brought to Britain from South Africa by a Dutch merchant in 1803, and were found in a notebook stored in the National Archives.
The little fellows have had quite a journey:
"They'd been in a ship for a year, certainly for months, coming back from the Cape; then they'd been kept in the Tower of London for a number of years. Only in the last 10 years have they been in controlled conditions. "So I didn't expect any of them to germinate," he told the BBC News website, "and the three that did really are tough seeds."
[evening standard mode] Tough seeds used to life behind bars and we're bringing them back to life? Haven't these fools seen Demolition Man? Worse still two of the revived species are unknown. We don't need to pull out our dog-eared copy of Day of The Triffids to know this is a bad idea...
On the way back the Henriette was captured by the British navy; and Teerlink's possessions, including his notebook, passed to the High Court of Admiralty, and then to the Tower. Why he carried the seeds and why he put them between the pages of his notebook are unknown.
Unknown? Maybe he was hiding them for good reason... [/evening standard mode].