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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Washington, D.C. » National Arboretum » Floral and Nursery Plants Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #185118


item Fare, Donna

Submitted to: Southern Nursery Association Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/12/2005
Publication Date: 2/6/2006
Citation: Fare, D. 2006. Redbud germination affected by seed treatment. Proceedings of Southern Nursery Association Research Conference. 50:401-403.

Interpretive Summary: Eastern redbud is a popular tree that is propagated by seed. Natural dormancy of the seed must be broken in order to obtain uniform seed germination. A simple method avoiding hazardous materials was tested (boiling water instead of sulfuric acid) and found to be superior. This will benefit the industry by increasing efficiency and decreasing hazards for propagators.

Technical Abstract: Eastern redbud is a popular native flowering tree that is typically propagated by moist prechilling and scarification with concentrated sulfuric acid. Concentrated sulfuric acid is caustic and safety measures must be adhered to prevent contact with skin or clothing. A series of experiments were conducted to evaluate the use of boiling water as a method to soften the hard seed coat and enhance germination. Boiling water (212 F) poured over redbud seeds followed by soaking was a successful pre-germination seed treatment. Seeds treated with 16, 32, or 66 percent concentrated sulfuric acid had 30 percent lower germination compared to seeds treated with boiling water. Sandpaper gently rubbed on individual seeds which represented a mechanical scarification had similar germination as seeds treated with acid. Adding seeds to boiling water for as little as 1 min killed the embryo and prevented germination.