Germination ecology of seeds of the annual weeds Capsella bursa-pastoris and Descurainia sophia originating from high northern latitudes

C. C. Baskin, P. Milberg, L. Andersson, J. M. Baskin

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41 Scopus citations


Low temperatures may inhibit dormancy break in seeds of winter annuals, therefore it was hypothesized that seeds of Capsella bursa-pastoris and Descurainia sophia that mature at high latitudes in late summer-early autumn would not germinate until they had been exposed to high summer temperatures. Consequently, germination would be delayed until the second autumn. Most freshly matured seeds of both species collected in August and September in southern Sweden were dormant. After 3 weeks of burial at simulated August (20/10°C) and September (15/6°C) temperatures, 28 and 27%, respectively, of the C. bursa-pastoris and 56 and 59%, respectively, of the D. sophia seeds germinated in light at 15/6°C. In contrast, in germination phenology studies conducted in Sweden, only a few seeds of either species germinated during the first autumn following dispersal. However, there was a peak of germination of both species the following spring, demonstrating that dormancy was lost during exposure to the low habitat temperatures between late summer and early autumn and spring. Nearly 100% of the seeds of both species subjected to simulated annual seasonal temperature changes were viable after 30.5 months of burial. In the burial study, exhumed seeds of C. bursa-pastoris were capable of germinating to 98-100% in light at the simulated spring-autumn temperature regime (15/6°C) in both spring and autumn, while those of D. sophia did so only in autumn. In early spring, however, seeds of D. sophia germinated to 17-50% at 15/ 6°C. Thus, most seeds of these two annual weeds that mature in late summer do not germinate in the first autumn, but they may do so the following spring or in some subsequent autumn or spring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-68
Number of pages9
JournalWeed Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Dormancy break
  • Germination phenology
  • Germination temperatures
  • Seed germination
  • Winter annuals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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