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Pacific Conservation Biology Pacific Conservation Biology Society
A journal dedicated to conservation and wildlife management in the Pacific region.

Seed dormancy and storage behaviour of the Hawaiian endemic Coprosma kauensis (Rubiaceae)

Dustin Wolkis A B C # * , Emily Saling A # , Carol C. Baskin D E and Jerry M. Baskin D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Science and Conservation, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kalaheo, HI 96741, USA.

B Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, DK-2100, Denmark.

C Seed Conservation Specialist Group, Species Survival Commission, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Gland, 281196, Switzerland.

D Department of Biology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506, USA.

E Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546, USA.

* Correspondence to:
# These authors contributed equally to this paper

Handling Editor: Mike van Keulen

Pacific Conservation Biology 30, PC22049
Submitted: 10 December 2022  Accepted: 30 March 2023  Published: 11 May 2023

© 2024 The Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Published by CSIRO Publishing



Seed banking is the most efficient and cost-effective method of preserving plant germplasm, but not all species can be conserved by conventional practices. Further, restoration of plant populations from seeds often is hindered by a lack of a priori knowledge of seed dormancy and germination requirements.


Our objective was to determine seed desiccation, initial freezing tolerance and the dormancy-breaking and germination requirements of Coprosma kauensis, a dioecious shrub endemic to Kauaʻi Island in Hawaiʻi.


The effects of temperature and gibberellic acid (GA3) on germination of fresh seeds were tested in light/dark at 15/5, 25/15 and 20/10°C with and without treatment with GA3. To test effects of desiccation and initial freezing on germination, seeds were dried to 15% relative humidity at 15°C and then stored at −20°C.

Key results

Regardless of incubation temperature and treatment (or not) with GA3, final germination ranged from 78 to 88%; however, time to 50% germination decreased at 20/10°C for seeds treated with 500 ppm GA3. There was no significant difference in final germination percentage between freshly harvested seeds and those desiccated, nor of those desiccated and then subsequently frozen at −20°C.


Fresh seeds of C. kauensis exhibit a low degree of nondeep physiological dormancy. They can germinate over a range of temperatures, but germination speed is increased by GA3. Fresh seeds are desiccation and freeze tolerant (after 6 months storage).


This vulnerable Kauaʻi endemic species easily can be propagated from seeds. Future studies should investigate long-term longevity at various storage temperatures.

Keywords: Coprosma kauensis, Hawaiʻi, physiological dormancy, seed bank, seed conservation, seed desiccation tolerance, seed germination, seed storage behaviour.


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