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The comparative germination ecology of nine Rumex species

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Abstract

The germination requirements, dormancy cycle and longevity of nine Rumexspecies were studied in field conditions and laboratory experiments to show theadaptations of the related species to their specific habitat. Within one genus,rather striking differences were observed in germination ecology. However, theclosely related species, R. acetosa and R.scutatus, are very similar: they fruit in early summer; theirseeds can germinate immediately after dispersal, and they are nondormant andshort-lived. R. acetosella also has fruits insummer, but the seeds do not germinate the first season after dispersal. Theyare long-lived, but buried seeds do not show a dormancy cycle; they mightgerminate in different seasons after exposure to light. Seeds of four species (R. conglomeratus,R. maritimus, R. sanguineus andR. crispus) are long-lived and undergo aseasonal dormancy cycle, with a low level of dormancy in winter and early springand a deep dormancy in summer as was already known for R.obtusifolius. These seeds are shed in the autumn, and they germinatemainly in the spring in consecutive years. R. maritimusalso germinates in summer and autumn on drying muddy soils. The seeds of R. hydrolapathum only germinate onwaterlogged soils, which explains its growth at the edge of streams and ponds.Its seeds are rather short-lived. The seeds of the species on very wetplaces require a higher temperature for germination.

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Van Assche, J., Van Nerum, D. & Darius, P. The comparative germination ecology of nine Rumex species. Plant Ecology 159, 131–142 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1015553905110

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