smoke and seed germination

Rachel Saunders
Tue, 27 Dec 2005 23:57:03 PST
Dear Don
Would it be OK if I used this little piece on smoke for a "filler" on a page
of the IBSA (Indigenous Bulb Society of SA) Journal?  I am looking for
little interesting bits and pieces, and this would fill a nice space.
Best wishes for 2006

Rachel Saunders
Tel +27 21 762 4245
Fax +27 21 797 6609
PO Box 53108, Kenilworth, 7745 South Africa

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Don Mahoney" <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, September 02, 2005 11:21 PM
Subject: [pbs] smoke and seed germination

> 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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