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image of Israel Journal of Plant Sciences

An examination of 203 seed lots from 42 Old World species (or 54 taxa), with representatives from all five genera (Cistus, Fumana, Halimium, Heliarthemum, and Tuberaria) and an additional seed lot of the New World Lechea maritima shows that the phenomenon of haidseededness is a prominent characteristic of the entire Cistaceae family. Promotion of seed germination in the laboratory can be obtained by mechanical scarification and thermal pretreatment, while light seems to be totally ineffective. A seed ecology syndrome for Cistaceae is postulated, featuring small seed size, hardcoatedness (primary dormancy), short-distance dispersal, long-term persistence in soil seed banks, fire- or heat- induced seed “softening”, an opportunistic strategy of germination (germination at a wide range of temperature and light conditions), and a slow germination rate of “softened” seeds. This syndrome is suggested to endow Cistaceae, a principally Mediterranean family, with a considerable ecological advantage in the summer-dry and fire-prone Mediterranean climatic conditions.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of General Botany, University of Athens


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