Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 973–986 | Cite as

Effects of bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) litter on seed germination and early seedling growth of four boreal tree species

  • Anders Jäderlund
  • Olle Zackrisson
  • Marie-Charlotte Nilsson


Laboratory and greenhouse bioassays were used to test for inhibitory effects of senescent and decomposed leaves and aqueous extract from bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) against seed germination and seedling growth of aspen (Populus tremula L.), birch (Betula pendula Roth.), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), and Norway spruce [Picea abies (L.) Karst.]. Aqueous extracts from bilberry leaves were inhibitory to aspen seed germination and seedling growth and also induced root damage and growth abnormalities. Addition of activated carbon removed the inhibitory effects of extracts. Senescent leaves reduced pine and spruce seed germination, but rinsing of seeds reversed this inhibition. Senescent leaves were more inhibitory than decomposed leaf litter, suggesting that the inhibitory compounds in bilberry leaves are relatively soluble and released at early stages during decomposition. Spruce was generally less negatively affected by litter and aqueous extracts than the other tested species. This study indicates that chemical effects of bilberry litter have the potential to inhibit tree seedling recruitment, but these effects were not consistently strong. Phytotoxicity is unlikely to be of critical importance in determining success for spruce seedling establishment.

Key Words

Vaccinium myrtillus regeneration failure seed germination seedling establishment activated carbon germination inhibitors phenolic compounds Populus tremula Pinus sylvestris Picea abies Betula pendula 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anders Jäderlund
    • 1
  • Olle Zackrisson
    • 1
  • Marie-Charlotte Nilsson
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Forestry, Department of Forest Vegetation EcologySwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUmeåSweden

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