(404) Effect of Seed Source, Light during Germination, and Cold-moist Stratification on Seed Germination in Three Species of Echinacea

in HortScience
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  • 1 Iowa State University, Horticulture, Ames,IA 50011

With the increase in popularity of echinacea as a botanical supplement, organic production of this herb continues to grow. Echinacea seeds typically show a high percentage of dormancy that can be broken by ethephon or gibberellic acid, but these methods are not accepted in organic production. We examined in three experiments the effects of varying seed source and germination conditions on echinacea growth. To determine the efficacy of nonchemical treatments, we evaluated the effect of light with and without cold-moist stratification on seed germination of the three most important medicinal species of echinacea, E. angustifolia, E. purpurea, and E. pallida. We used cold-moist stratification under 24 h light, 24 h dark, and 16/8 h (light/dark) to break seed dormancy. We found that germination was enhanced in seeds from a commercial organic seed source, compared to a public germoplasm source. When seeds were not cold-moist stratified, light increased germination in E. angustifolia only, suggesting differential dormancy among the three species. We found that when seeds were cold-moist stratified under 16–24 h of light for 4 weeks, the percentage and rate of germination increased 10% over the control, suggesting this method as an alternative to chemical seed treatments.

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