• Dormancy;
  • seed bank

1. Previous studies have shown that among British species, seeds that persist in the soil tend to be small and compact compared with non-persistent seeds. We tested whether or not this pattern is repeated among 101 Australian species, from a range of habitats.

2. Seed mass was plotted against variance of seed dimensions, across all species. Species with persistent seeds were found across the whole range of seed mass (0·217–648·9 mg) and variance (0·0000–0·2497), providing no evidence for a critical mass or variance which separated persistent from transient seeds.

3. We tested whether or not divergence within individual clades between persistent and transient seeds was associated with increased seed mass or seed dimension variance, using phylogenetically independent contrasts (PICs). There was no consistent tendency found.

4. Thus for Australian species, persistent seeds were not smaller or more compact than transient seeds when compared across all species or when compared using PICs. Presumably the natural history of burial and disturbance operates differently in British and Australian habitats.