After-Ripening in Festuca idahoensis Seeds: Adaptive Dormancy and Implications for Restoration

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Abstract

Festuca idahoensis (Idaho fescue) was a common native perennial bunchgrass in the sagebrush steppe of the western United States until the introductions of domestic livestock and alien plants. Restoration of Idaho fescue to degraded sites will likely involve reseeding, and one of the factors affecting reseeding success is germinability of the seeds employed. We investigated effects of after-ripening and storage temperature on germinability of Idaho fescue seeds collected from a central Oregon site. Six months of after-ripening were required before maximum germination was obtained. Storage of dry seeds at either room temperature (20°C) or at cooler, alternating temperatures (5/15°C) did not alter the rate at which dormancy was lost. Storage at the warmer temperature promoted rapid germination in seeds that had broken dormancy. Seed longevity varied greatly from year to year. Seeds produced in a very dry year had poorer germination and shorter longevity than seeds produced during a year with near normal precipitation. Because seed dispersal occurs in late July and early August for Idaho fescue in central Oregon, a six-month after-ripening requirement ensures that the greatest potential germination coincides with the spring period most likely to provide sufficient moisture for seedling establishment.

Ancillary