The University of Arizona

Heated substrate and smoke: influence on seed emergence and plant growth.

R.R. Blank, J.A. Young

Abstract


Combustion products of burning vegetation can increase seed germination of many species of fire-prone plant communities. We tested the influence of heating sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt.) subcanopy soil, aqueous extracts of artificially burned soil, and sagebrush smoke on the emergence of several range plant species of the sagebrush-steppe. In addition, test seeds were exposed to sagebrush smoke and aqueous slurries of artificially burned sagebrush subcanopy soil to determine their effect on plant growth. As compared to the control, substrates previously heated from 250 to 750 degrees C significantly (P less than or equal to 0.05) increased the emergence of Thurber's needlegrass [Achnatherum thurberianum (Piper) Barkworth] and needle-and-thread [Hesperostipa comata (Trin. &Rupr.) Barkworth]. Sagebrush smoke and aqueous slurries of artificially burned soil significantly increased the emergence of Sierra Nevada needlegrass [Achnatherum occidentalis (Thurber) Barkworth], Indian ricegrass [Achnatherum hymenoides (Roemer &Schultes)Barkworth], and antelope bitterbrush [Purshia tridentata (Pursh) DC.]. Rates of new leaf production and leaf elongation following treatment of seeds with the smoke of burning sagebrush were significantly greater for cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.), basin wildrye [Leymus cinereus (Sribner &Merr.) A. Love], Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis Elmer ), Sierra Nevada needlegrass, and needle-and-thread as compared to the control. After 83 days of growth, smoke-treated seeds of basin wildrye and needle-and-thread produced significantly greater plant mass than their controls. Smoke treatment of certain seeds before sowing is potentially useful for range plant seedings.

Keywords


soil heating;greenhouses;smoking;leaves;mineral content;roots;seedling emergence;shoots;fires;fire effects;seed germination;biomass;grasses

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