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

Seed persistence of the invasive aquatic plant, Gymnocoronis spilanthoides (Asteraceae)

F. Dane Panetta
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Alan Fletcher Research Station, Biosecurity Queensland, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, PO Box 36, Sherwood, Queensland 4075, Australia. Email:

Australian Journal of Botany 57(8) 670-674
Submitted: 21 October 2009  Accepted: 20 November 2009   Published: 8 February 2010


Seed persistence of Gymnocoronis spilanthoides (D.Don) DC.; Asteraceae (Senegal tea), a serious weed of freshwater habitats, was examined in relation to burial status and different soil moisture regimes over a 3-year period. Seeds were found to be highly persistent, especially when buried. At the end of the experiment, 42.0%, 27.3% and 61.4% of buried seeds were viable following maintenance at field capacity, water logged and fluctuating (cycles of 1 week at field capacity followed by 3 weeks’ drying down) soil moisture conditions, respectively. Comparable viability values for surface-situated seeds were ~3% over all soil moisture regimes. Predicted times to 1% viability are 16.2 years for buried seed and 3.8 years for surface-situated seed. Persistence was attributed primarily to the absence of light, a near-obligate requirement for germination in this species, although secondary dormancy was induced in some seeds. Previous work has demonstrated low fecundity in field populations of G. spilanthoides, which suggests that soil seed banks may not be particularly large. However, high levels of seed persistence, combined with ostensibly effective dispersal mechanisms, indicate that this weed may prove a difficult target for regional or state-wide eradication.


I thank Paul Shortis, Jayd McCarthy and Christine Perrett for technical assistance and K. Dhileepan for assistance with data analysis and figure preparation. Rowena Long, Segun Osunkoya, K. Dhileepan and Joe Vitelli commented on a draft of this paper.


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