Post-release fates of seeds in dehiscent and indehiscent siliques of the diaspore heteromorphic species Diptychocarpus strictus (Brassicaceae)

Juan J. Lu, Dun Y. Tan, Jerry M. Baskin, Carol C. Baskin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Fruit/seed heteromorphic plants have been studied most extensively for differences in dispersal and germination of the morphs. However, fates of the heteromorphic diaspores beginning with seed release and ending with germination/seed death have been documented for relatively few species. Our primary aim was to follow the fates of the two dispersal unit morphs of Diptychocarpus strictus over a several-year period or until they germinated or died. Our hypothesis was that the winged, mucilaginous seeds (dispersal unit) from the dehiscent upper siliques form a short-lived seed bank and the nearly-wingless, nonmucilaginous seeds inside the indehiscent lower siliques (dispersal unit) a long-lived seed bank. Thus, for the two morphs we monitored phenology of seed release in 2010, germination phenology from 2010 to 2014 and germination and survival during burial in soil from 2010 to 2012. All lower siliques had been released from mother plants by late July, whereas seed release of the winged seeds of upper siliques was not completed until late October, after the main stem had become detached (near the base). Most seeds (18%) from upper siliques that did so (c. 20%) germinated in spring 2011, whereas no seeds in lower siliques germinated until autumn 2011 (0.2%). All seeds from upper siliques had germinated or lost viability by the end of the autumn 2012 germination season, whereas 11% of seeds inside lower siliques germinated in autumn 2014 and a high proportion of the nongerminated seeds was still viable, thus supporting our hypothesis. Buried seeds of both morphs exhibited a 6-mo dormancy cycle in which the nondormant phase coincided with the two germination seasons. Dehiscence of the upper siliques and indehiscence of the lower siliques are required for D. strictus to have a high risk-low risk strategy (H/H-L/L) for diaspore dispersal and dormancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-262
Number of pages8
JournalPerspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China ( 41361011, 31160093, U1130301 ) and the Key Project of Chinese Ministry of Education ( 213038A ). We thank the National Meteorological Information Center, China Meteorological Administration, for providing the weather data.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Geobotanisches Institut ETH, Stiftung Ruebel.


  • Diaspore heteromorphism
  • Dormancy cycling
  • Heterocarpy
  • High risk-low risk strategy
  • Seed release
  • Soil seed bank

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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