Seed survival and seasonal pattern of seedling emergence in some Leguminosae



Seeds of 11 species of Leguminosae were collected, usually in each of 3 years, and mixed with the top 7·5 cm of sterilised soil confined in cylinders sunk in the ground outdoors and cultivated three times yearly. Emergence was recorded for at least 3 yr. Some seedlings of all species emerged soon after sowing but their numbers varied both within and between species, a probable reflection of the percentage of ‘hard’ seeds in the samples. Appreciable numbers of seedlings appeared in the following 3 yr but few seeds remained viable and dormant after 5 yr. The annual weed Vicia hirsuta was an exception, with an average of 11% of the seeds sown still viable at this time. Most seedlings of Lotus corniculatus, Medicago lupulina, Melilotus altissima, Trifolium repens and Vicia cracca emerged in spring, V. cracca rather later than the others. In contrast, maximum emergence of Trifolium arvense, T. campestre and T. dubium took place from June to September. Limited data indicated a similar pattern for T. striatum and Lathyrus pratensis. Seedlings of Vicia hirsuta emerged from October to May but scarcely at all in summer. Although variation in the percentage of hard seeds influenced the extent of immediate germination and seed persistence, the seasonal patterns in seedling emergence of most species were found to be very consistent.