Dormancy in seeds of Dodonaea viscosa is due to a water-impermeable seed coat (physical dormancy, PY). Thus, mechanically scarified seeds imbibed water (c. 95% increase in mass) and germinated to high percentages over a wide range of temperature regimes in both white light and darkness, whereas non-scarified seeds did not take up water. Dry heat at 80–160°C and dipping in boiling water for 1–60 s also broke dormancy in a high percentage of the seeds, and continuous far-red light was not inhibitory to germination. However, dry storage in the laboratory for >1 year did not overcome dormancy. Seeds made water-permeable by boiling imbibed water, and thus germinated, at a much slower rate than those made water-permeable by mechanical scarification. We suggest that boiling opened the ‘water gap’ in the seed coat (not yet described in Sapindaceae but present in other taxa with PY) and that water entered the seed only through this small opening, thereby accounting for the slow rate of imbibition and subsequent germination. Physical dormancy has now been shown to occur in seeds of this polymorphic, worldwide species from Australia, Brazil, Hawaii, Mexico and New Zealand. The low level of dormancy reported for seed lots of D. viscosa in China, India and Pakistan is probably due to collection of seeds before they dried to the critical moisture content for development of water-impermeability of the seed coat. Germination of non-dormant seeds over a wide range of temperatures and in white light, far-red (leaf-canopy shade) light and darkness are part of the germination strategy of D. viscosa and of other taxa whose seeds have PY at maturity.
(Received July 17 2003)
(Accepted August 28 2003)