Seed dormancy and germination responses of nine Australian fire ephemerals

K.S. Baker, K.J. Steadman, Julie Plummer, K.W. Dixon

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    56 Citations (Scopus)


    Fire ephemerals are short-lived plants with seeds that persist in the soil and germinate after a fire or physical soil disturbance. Ex situ germination of many Australian fire ephemerals has previously been difficult. Dormancy was present in most of the nine fire ephemerals examined. Alyogyne hakeifolia (Giord.) Alef. and Alyogyne huegelii (Endl.) Fryxell (Malvaceae) seeds had physical and possibly also physiological dormancy, Actinotus leucocephalus Benth. (Apiaceae) seeds had morphophysiological dormancy, Austrostipa compressa (R.Br.) S.W.L. Jacobs & J. Everett and Austrostipa macalpinei (Reader) S.W.L. Jacobs & J. Everett (Poaceae) seeds were either non-dormant or possessed physiological dormancy, and seeds of all remaining species possessed physiological dormancy. A proportion of the Alyogyne hakeifolia, Alyogyne huegelii, Austrostipa compressa and Austrostipa macalpinei seed populations were non-dormant because some seeds could germinate at the various incubation temperatures without further treatment. At 20 degrees C, artificial methods of inducing germination such as manual or acid scarification were among the optimal treatments for Austrostipa compressa, Austrostipa macalpinei, Alyogyne huegelii, Actinotus leucocephalus and Grevillea scapigera A.S. George (Proteaceae), and gibberellic acid induced maximum germination of Tersonia cyathiflora (Fenzl) J.W. Green (Gyrostemonaceae) seeds. Heat (70 degrees C for 1 h) and smoke water was one of the most effective treatments for germinating Actinotus leucocephalus and Codonocarpus cotinifolius (Desf.) F. Muell. (Gyrostemonaceae) seeds. Germination of Grevillea scapigera, Codonocarpus cotinifolius, Gyrostemon racemiger H. Walter (Gyrostemonaceae) and Tersonia cyathiflora did not exceed 40% and may require other treatments to overcome dormancy. Although the nine fire ephemerals examined require fire to germinate under natural conditions, a range of germination responses and dormancy types was observed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)345-358
    JournalPlant and Soil
    Issue number1/2
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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