Habitat-correlated seed germination behaviour in populations of wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa L.) from northern Italy

  • Mondoni A
  • Probert R
  • Rossi G
 et al. 
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Although various aspects of the biology of Anemone nemorosa have been examined, few studies present data on seed germination, and even then information tends to be rather contradictory. A. nemorosa L. is a spring-flowering, woodland geophyte, widely distributed across much of Europe. Germination phenology, including embryo development and radicle and shoot emergence, were investigated in one mountain and three lowland populations from northern Italy. Immediately after harvest, seeds were either sown on agar in the laboratory under simulated seasonal temperatures, or placed in nylon mesh sachets and buried in the wild. Embryos, undifferentiated at the time of dispersal, grew under summer conditions in the laboratory and in the wild. However, seeds did not germinate under continuous summer conditions. Radicle emergence in the field was first recorded at the beginning of autumn, when soil temperatures had dropped to c. 15 C in the case of the three lowland populations, and to c. 10 C at the mountain site. Shoot emergence was delayed under natural conditions until late autumn/early winter, when soil temperatures had dropped to c. 10 C in the lowlands and c. 6 C at the mountain site. In the laboratory, a period of cold stratification was required for shoot emergence, and this requirement was more pronounced in the mountain population. Seeds of the mountain population completed embryo development, radicle emergence and shoot emergence at cooler temperatures compared with the lowland populations. These results suggest that germination in A. nemorosa is highly adapted and finely tuned to local climate. We conclude that seeds of A. nemorosa display deep, simple epicotyl, morphophysiogical dormancy, and this is the first report of such dormancy for the genus Anemone. However, the continuous development and growth of embryos from the time of natural dispersal, and the lack of evidence of developmental arrest under natural conditions, suggests that radicles are non-dormant.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Anemone nemorosa
  • Embryo growth
  • Epicotyl morphophysiological dormancy
  • Radicle and shoot emergence
  • Ranunculaceae

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  • Andrea Mondoni

  • Robin Probert

  • Graziano Rossi

  • Fiona Hay

  • Costantino Bonomi

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