I am trying to grow a Black Pine Bonsai tree. I noticed that there were a number of seeds that looked different in the bag of the Black Pine seeds that I got, but I put them in the soil anyway with the Black Pine seeds.

I attached a photo of the seedling and the seed that it grew from. Can you help me identify whether this seedling is a Black Pine, and if it isn’t, what are the other seeds that I found?

Mysterious SeedMysterious PlantAnother Picture of Mysterious Plant

EDIT: I now realize that the seedling is not a Black Pine, but can you help me identify what it really is?

Another Picture of the Mysterious Seed

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  • Did you scarify the seeds and use cold stratification before planting, or did you just plant them? Are they fresh seeds or ones you bought? Impossible to say what the seedling is, its only got its cotyledons,; when it gets a second pair of 'leaves', they will be the true leaves and ID might then be possible
    – Bamboo
    Aug 30, 2017 at 19:38

4 Answers 4


It's usual to stratify Black Pine seeds (by soaking in water for 24 hours) then extract the seeds and give them cold for around 60 days, as described here: Seed Stratification Technique for the Japanese Black Pine.

It seems your instructions said to sow them straightaway, and it's not clear how long you had the seeds in the packet, or where you got them from, but the likelihood is, they do need soaking and cold before they will germinate. I don't know how long they've been sitting in that soil, nor how wet it is, but it might be sensible to pick out some of the seeds, and carry out the procedure described in the link above, so that if the ones you've sown don't grow, with luck, the ones you rescue do.

As for the different seed that's germinated, I don't recognise it as a seed, but it should be possible to identify it once it's started putting out true leaves.

  • Okay thank you! I have taken out most of the seeds (maybe all I’m not sure). I will follow the instructions that you sent and will come back with results in a few days
    – Guy
    Aug 30, 2017 at 20:09
  • Also, I just want to clarify. So first put them all in water for 24 hours, then place them with a wet paper towel in the refrigerator right? How long should they be in the refrigerator
    – Guy
    Aug 30, 2017 at 20:14
  • No. Read the link I provided, under stratification - you need some peat or sphagnum moss and a screw top jar, needs to be in the fridge for 60 days, unless you get very cold falls, when you can put them outdoors if its cold enough (below 5 deg C as a maximum temperature).
    – Bamboo
    Aug 30, 2017 at 21:02
  • I don’t have peat or sphagnum moss, is there any alternative? I know I can buy some but I’d prefer it if there were alternatives to purchasing more products for the Bonsai.
    – Guy
    Aug 30, 2017 at 21:08
  • Can't think of anything else - tissue paper or cotton wool won't do the job because its too long a time, you'll likely get fungal growth. I suppose you could try a bit of potting soil (proper, new potting soil, not garden soil) and leave them in that in the fridge.
    – Bamboo
    Aug 30, 2017 at 21:18

This definitely do not look like a pine tree seedling. Here is a good reference for what you intend to do, at least for the germination part.

Here is how seeds look like:

black pine seeds

And how seedlings will look like:

black pine seedlings

  • Thank you. Can you please help me identify what the seedling actually is?
    – Guy
    Aug 30, 2017 at 18:16

It's the seed of an Eryngium, but I can't tell which one! Do you have sea hollies growing near? Are there any blue spikey plants nearby, which are about waist high and flowering right now?

I have loads coming up everywhere and when I disturb the seed heads that is what I get scattered everywhere! I looked online too and I have to say the pictures I've found are really poor quality, I'm 99% sure that's what it is. I have been wrong before, but I see these seeds every week, and sweep them up in their thousands.

The only other thing is to let it grow and see what the first true leaf is? Then you can ask the same question again on here and see what happens.

  • I am not sure if that’s what the seed is. I got a Bonsai Kit somewhere, and I found these seeds in the kit (I believe that they somehow flew into where the seeds were packaged in whichever factory they made this kit in). I will add another photo of the seeds in my post (I searched for the photo of Eryngium seeds online and I do not think it’s that).
    – Guy
    Aug 30, 2017 at 19:38
  • It’s been about a month almost since it started growing, and as soon as I get back home I will edit this post and add pictures of how the plant looks like now
    – Guy
    Sep 23, 2017 at 16:41

You are saying you got these seeds in a kit? That they were labeled Black Pine? I wish they had given you better instructions. One never plants seeds in Bonsai Pots. There probably isn't even a hole on the bottom?

Your soil is way too wet. You will probably get root rot or rot of some kind before this seedling is able to get much older.

Seeds need to be prepared for their individual needs. Some need paper towels and moisture, others need refrigerated, some need to be blasted with flame. You've actually got one growing! I would get a tiny peat pot not more that 2" by 2", fill with potting soil and using a spoon transplant this guy into a small pot where it won't be affected by too much water. No drainage and then no root mass to suck up water is a death knell for that plant.

Bad instructions! I am sorry. You still have ONE that is viable. Keep a bit moist but NOT SOGGY. Allow it to dry before watering. Use distilled water, not tap water. Hopefully you are able to find distilled water without fluoride.

Potting soil, small tiny peat pot for now, and what are you using for light? It needs light now and your seedling should start looking like this picture I am sending. Fertilize only when it gets 4" high. Not now. If you use Osmocote you won't have to fertilize again until you transplant or up pot your seedling. Use very little! A pinch until you get to a 6" pot then go by the directions and only do half of what the instructions tell you.

Black Pine Seedling

  • And you have to understand clearly in your mind there is no seed at all that makes a Bonsai. Bonsai are normal shrubs/trees that are manipulated with lots of knowledge and experience to become a mini version of themselves. Bonsai is the TOUGHEST test of a 'gardener'!!
    – stormy
    Aug 30, 2017 at 23:27
  • I just planted the seeds and as far as I know, the plant that you see growing is not a Black Pine. I have been using normal sunlight, tap water, and there is a hole at the bottom of the pot. Please follow up with all answers and their comments. I have already began following Bamboo’s answer and I hope that my seeds will be good to germinate in 60 days after they leave the fridge. Thank you for your answer.
    – Guy
    Aug 30, 2017 at 23:30
  • Yeah, doesn't look like those cotyledons will look like Black Pine but what the heck kind of seed would they give you? Did you use potting soil or soil from out of doors? That would explain your errant seedling. Did you use potting soil or garden soil? You are welcome, Guy! Interesting project!!
    – stormy
    Aug 30, 2017 at 23:38
  • 1
    IF they don't germinate "in 60 days after leaving the fridge," don't get too impatient. Some conifer seeds can sit around for 5 or 10 years before they germinate in the wild! You do realize that growing a Bonsai from seed is about the hardest thing you can try, and with a slow growing tree like a pine it might take you 20 years before you get to something that "looks like a proper Bonsai?" If you want to get started, you would be much better buying a tree that is fairly quick growing, and big enough to start training. Then you will see some progress within a few months, not a few years.
    – alephzero
    Aug 30, 2017 at 23:41
  • 1
    ... and by "big enough" I mean something about 2 feet tall - don't try to make your first attempt at Bonsai training as tiny as possible, keep it simple!
    – alephzero
    Aug 30, 2017 at 23:47

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