Dormancy in selected species of Atriplex and Maireana

C. Preston, Sean M. Bellairs

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paper presented at Conference (not in Proceedings)


Saltbushes (Atriplex sp.) and bluebushes (Maireana sp.) are commonly used in mine site
rehabilitation in the arid and semi-arid regions of Australia. Seed dormancy restricts the successful
recruitment of these salt tolerant species from broadcast seed. This paper aims to identify the
location and mechanism(s) of dormancy and to discuss field techniques for overcoming dormancy
in several species of Atriplex and Maireana.

All species tested had some seeds germinate without treatment. However, the majority of species
had dormant seeds. For most species, removing the bracts of Atriplex or the fruit of Maireana
(both collectively referred to hereafter as the ‘fruit’) improved germination by at least 20% and
increased the rate of germination. Scarification of the seed coat following fruit removal improved
germination of A. codonocarpa by an additional 15%. Rinsing seeds with 114 L of water (equating
to 24 hours) also had a significant effect on the germination of A. vesicaria and A. holocarpa.
Generally, rinsing seeds was more effective than soaking.

The results indicate that the fruit of Atriplex and Maireana inhibits germination and hence, reduces
establishment in the field. The mechanism of dormancy is believed to be a water-soluble inhibitor,
probably NaCl. Additionally, the fruit acts as a mechanical barrier to protrusion of the radicle in
some species. Field application of the techniques applied here needs to be investigated to
determine how enhanced germination can lead to improved field establishment.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Event4th Australian Workshop on Native Seed Biology for Revegetation - Mildura
Duration: 3 Sept 20014 Sept 2001


Conference4th Australian Workshop on Native Seed Biology for Revegetation


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