smoke and seed germination

James Frelichowski
Fri, 07 Jul 2006 13:19:27 PDT
A Special Thanks to PBSers:
  I don't know who originally brought up the subject and research on smoke and seed germination but it became an important treatment in my work here with cotton seed.    My limited memory recalls know Lee Poulsen and Don Mahoney contributing to this topic and I thank them and all members who discussed this topic and brought it to my attention.
  James Frelichowski
  btw does anyone know if there is a red Zephyranthes that grows in Texas (Brazos county in College Station)?  I see them popping up after our significant rainfall here.

Don Mahoney <> wrote:
  Several fire ecologists at California State University at Los Angelos have been working extensively on identifying the chemicals in smoke that promote germination. In a research paper in the journal ecology (Ecology 79(7)1998 pp 2330-2336.), they found nitrogen dioxide as the main component of smoke which was involved in germination. Nitrates and nitrites had no effect. The chaparral species (annuals and shrubs) that they tested had complicated requirements. Some germinated with smoke alone, some required smoke plus stratification, and a few required abraison of the seed coat also. They were able to exactly duplicate results of smoke by substituting nitrogen dioxide in their trials. At the botanical garden here we use Kirstenbosch smoke papers for much of the South African seed we germinate and find them important for the germination of ericas, proteas and the grass-like members of the Restinonaceae. Restios for us will not germinate without smoke and protea germination 
is greatly inhanced. Bulbs on the other hand are a little more forgiving and we have had reasonable germination, especially of our own freshly collected bulb seed, without smoke . We still use smoke on stored bulb seed just in case it really does help. I've never had enough seed to do a true controlled test on bulb seed. Don Mahoney, San Francisco Botanical Garden
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