Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems

Seed Ageing and Smoke: Partner Cuesin the Amelioration of Seed Dormancyin Selected Australian Native Species

Shauna Roche, Kingsley W. Dixon and John S. Pate

Australian Journal of Botany 45(5) 783 - 815
Published: 1997


Seed germination of many Australian native plant species has consistently proven to be fractious. With the discovery of smoke-mediated germination, it is now possible to better understand the heterogeneity in germination patterns for a wide range of species both in situ and ex situ. In the present study, over 180 species were examined as to viability and smoke responsiveness of freshly collected seed. Soil storage and a number of commonly used seed pre-treatments were employed in combination with smoke to examine both longevity in artificially constructed seed banks, and the role of seed ageing in improved germination. Methods of smoke application for commercial use were also investigated. Viability decline over 1 year varied between 10% and 80%. Reductions of as little as 15% were found to compromise the ability of a number of species to successfully recruit in consecutive seasons. When fresh seed was used,almost 70% of species tested responded positively to smoke whether applied prior to or after sowing. Variation in success between the two methods confirmed earlier conclusions that substances contained in plant-derived smoke may be inhibitory at high concentrations for particularly sensitive species. Only 10% of species under investigation recorded optimum germination with seed ageing alone but when smoke was applied as a treatment after soil storage, 60% of species responded positively. Implications for horticulture, rehabilitation, seed bank research and habitat management are discussed.

© CSIRO 1997

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