Population Biology of Allium Ursinum in Northern Germany

  • Ernst W
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(1) The population biology of four Allium ursinum stands was studied in a beechwood on calcareous soil and in a mixed Carpinus-Fagus woodland on a pseudo-gley soil in northern Germany from 1968 to 1977. (2) Under laboratory conditions germination of Allium ursinum seeds occurred after a dormancy period at 15-20 C followed by stratification at 4⚬ C for at least 30 days. In the field, germination is restricted to the late winter and early spring. (3) Development of leaves and inflorescences is also dependent on low temperature. (4) Sexual and vegetative reproduction of A. ursinum first occurs in the fourth year, and lasts no longer than the eighth year. (5) A population of Allium ursinum has four dominant phases of mortality: at the embryo stage, autolysis of seeds during dormancy and stratification, mortality of individuals as they move to lower soil layers by means of contractile roots, and the phase of ageing (after 7-8 years). (6) The existence of pure stands of Allium ursinum is discussed in relation to the concept of Allium as an r-strategist amongst K-strategists, and to possible allelo-chemical and mechanical effects of the dying leaves. (7) The mineral-element content of different organs of A. ursinum is related to the life cycle of the individual plant. The significance of high nitrate concentration in the leaves of Allium in spring is discussed.

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  • W. H. O. Ernst

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