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Keywords:

  • germination tests;
  • native versus non-native species;
  • quarry restoration;
  • seasonality

The germination performance of native species and their suitability for a rapid erosion control are uncertain. Together with their relatively low commercial availability and high costs, these are still strong reasons preventing their common use in hydroseeding for restoration of Mediterranean degraded slopes, despite the increasing number of studies recommending it. In this study, 14 non-native (commercial) and native herb and woody species were tested. Their germination performance was evaluated under laboratory (Petri dishes) and greenhouse conditions (seeds sown in target substrate). The results obtained were compared with the seedling densities in a Mediterranean quarry slope hydroseeded with the same species. In the laboratory, commercial species had a better germination performance than most native species, but this trend was not maintained in the greenhouse. Greenhouse tests were extended beyond spring and showed that many native species germinated better, or exclusively in autumn. Germination performance and success decreased, from laboratory to greenhouse and field conditions, for many species, but not for all. Relative to field performance, the predictive value of laboratory and greenhouse tests was poor, yet sowing on the target substrate under greenhouse conditions may be a better approach for certain native species. The main drawbacks revealed by native species in the present study included: (1) relatively slow germination; (2) seasonality; and (3) seed dormancy-breaking requirements. The results suggest that these problems may be overcome through species selection, seed pre-treatments, hydroseeding scheduling, and/or manipulation of seeding density and relative species proportion.