Achenes of 12 species of Compositae were collected in each of 3 years and mixed with the top 7.5 cm of sterilised soil which was confined in cylinders sunk in the ground outdoors and cultivated three times yearly. Seedling emergence was recorded for 5 yr and the numbers of viable seeds remaining then determined. Emergence of Arctium lappa, A. minus, Picris hieracioides, Taraxacum officinale, Sonchus arvensis and S. asper was mainly in spring. Seedlings of Chrysanthemum segetum, Lapsana communis, Anthemis cotula and Sonchus oleraceus were often most numerous in spring but also emerged at other times, while Matricaria matricarioides and M. recutita showed no consistent seasonal pattern of emergence. Except for C. segetum and A. cotula, in which there was evidence of innate dormancy imposed by the seed coat, the numbers of seedlings were greatest in the first year and thereafter decreased approximately exponentially from year to year. Few viable seeds of A. lappa or A. minus remained after 5 yr and those of T. officinale, P. hieracioides and S. arvensis accounted for less than 1.5% of the seeds sown. Seed survival was greatest in the annual weeds and ranged from 2.1% (S. asper) to 8.6% (M. matricarioides) after 5 yr.