Seedling growth of four fire-following Mediterranean plant species deprived of single mineral nutrients



1.Anthyllis vulneraria, Cistus creticus, Hippocrepis unisiliquosa and Pinus brutia are frequent post-fire colonizers whose seedlings are subjected to the mineral conditions imposed by ash in the early stages of growth. We test the hypothesis that the effective internal supply of mineral elements in the seeds of these species may complement the external availability of specific nutrients.

2. Newly germinated seedlings were grown in nutrient solutions, each deficient in one of the following elements: nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium. Control treatments consisted of full nutrients and distilled water. Seedling growth was monitored over 12weeks. The final dry masses of the seedlings were taken as a measure of the availability of each element from the seeds’ own stored reserves.

3. For the two legume species nitrogen was the most limiting element followed by phosphorus. Potassium deficiency had no effect on the final legume dry biomass. For Cistus, the order was nitrogen followed by potassium, while phosphorus deprivation had no effect on growth during the 12weeks of the experiment. Deprivation of single minerals had no significant effect on seedling growth of Pinus over the same period. The two legumes and Cistus when denied nitrogen had relatively greater relative root ratios than control plants.

4. The relative seedling requirements of each species for early external supplies of the various nutrients for establishment in the field are discussed with reference to the adaptation of the four species to post-fire regeneration.