I planted 5 seeds for a Norway spruce (Picea Abies) on January 12, 2020, and so far I have three seedlings that are growing at a similar rate (though one is a bit bigger). three seedlings

I noticed something very particular with one of the seedlings however. one of the seedlings At first I thought the seedling was growing downward because instead of the branches/cotyledons part of the seedling I saw an actual seed and it appeared the seedling was growing out of it. Upon further inspection I noticed that the seedling

  1. Is standing strong, I tugged very gently and it did not move so I’m assuming it’s rooted.
    1. At the top of the seedling where the seed is, it looks like the seedling is attempting to grow. the seedling is attempting to grow Please note the appearances of tiny spaces between the tiny branches/cotyledons.

So I’ve changed my assumption from the seedling growing upside down (and forcing its seed out of the soil) to the seedling somehow grew into an adjacent seed that did not germinate and the top branches/cotyledons part is stuck.

I guess my question is

  1. Is this even possible?
  2. Is there anyway to remedy the situation?

I’ve thought of removing the seed from the branches/cotyledons but I’m worried I will damage the seedling (especially if the seed does in fact belong to that seedling).

  • You need to gently remove the seed. It is covering the terminal buds, where all new grow comes from. If you do not remove it will die. Use a sharp box cutter or exacto blade to get it off. Just do shallow cuts along the seam.
    – user27862
    Feb 3, 2020 at 8:21

1 Answer 1


The seedlings are showing the difference between Epigeal germination, where the cotyledon(s) are pushed above ground and protect the developing leaves, and Hypogeal where they remain below ground.

There are plant families where different species show different behaviour, including the Araucariaceae which are southern-hemisphere conifers and also lilies and beans.

I don't know if this variation is common behaviour in Picea, but I would just leave the plant to sort itself out. Most likely the leaves will break free from the cotyledon, which will then fall off.

Another possibility is that one of your seeds isn't actually a Norway Spruce, but the way to answer that question is let it grow and see what you get!

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotyledon for a bit more information, and a diagram.

  • Thanks so much! Very informative!
    – Matt Croak
    Feb 2, 2020 at 20:39

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