• fertilizer experiment;
  • maternal effect;
  • phenotypic plasticity;
  • plant nutrition

Rumex obtusifolius is believed to be a nitrophilous weedy species that spreads mainly by seed. However, the effects of nutrient availability on seed production never have been investigated. In this study, how the amount of seed production per plant, the chemical composition of the seeds, and their size and germination are affected by the supply of N, P, and K was investigated. A pot fertilizer experiment with 10 treatments (combinations of 0, 150 [N1], and 300 [N2] kg N ha−1, 0, 40 [P1], and 80 [P2] kg P ha−1, and 0 and 100 [K] kg K ha−1 applied twice per vegetation season) was carried out in Prague, Czech Republic, in 2008 and 2009. The seeds from plants that were cultivated since the spring were collected each August. The germination of the seeds was determined in long-daylight conditions at a stable temperature of 20°C. The number of seeds per plant ranged from 0 in the P1 and P2 treatments and <200 in the control and K treatments to almost 9000 in the N2P2K treatment. The number of seeds per plant was positively correlated with the number of stems per plant and the number of seeds per stem. The relationship between the amount of seeds per plant and the individual seed weight was positive. The concentration of N, P, and K in the seeds was affected by the treatments. The weight of 1000 seeds ranged from 1.3 to 1.7 g. The seed length ranged from 2.11 to 2.34 mm and the seed width varied from 1.26 to 1.42 mm. With the exception of the control (with 94% germination), the amount of seed germination was >98% in all the other treatments in 2008. In 2009, the amount of seed germination was >95% in all the treatments, except N1 and N2, where 93% and 89% germination, respectively, was recorded. The germination rate was positively related to the P concentration in the seeds. The amount of time that was necessary for 50% seed germination ranged from 1.53 to 2.89 days and was not related to the N concentration in the seeds, but it was negatively related to the P and K concentrations. A balanced N, P, and K supply to the mother plant strongly affected the number of produced seeds and their chemical composition and germination ability.