Login | Request Account (DAF staff only)

Effects of fire on germination and viability of bellyache bush (Jatropha gossypiifolia) seeds

View Altmetrics

Bebawi, F. F. and Campbell, S. D. (2002) Effects of fire on germination and viability of bellyache bush (Jatropha gossypiifolia) seeds. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 42 (8). pp. 1063-1069. ISSN 0816-1089


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/EA01125


If treatments imposed to control exotic plants also have a deleterious impact on their residual seed bank, the duration and extent of follow-up control may be reduced. Fire is one such technique that has this ability, particularly if seeds are located on or close to the soil surface. Three studies were undertaken in a riparian habitat in the dry tropics of northern Queensland to quantify the effects of spring burning on the seed bank of the exotic weed bellyache bush (Jatropha gossypiifolia). The first determined the distribution of seeds within the vertical profile of the trial site. The other 2 studies were experiments that quantified the effects of fire on germination and viability of both dispersed bellyache bush seeds and seeds held in mature capsules. Dispersed seeds of 2 types (intact and ant-discarded) were placed at the following 6 positions in the vertical profile of bellyache bush infestations: 0.5, 1, 2 and 4 cm depth below ground, on bare ground, and below fuel. Seeds held in capsules were located at random on the crown of bellyache bush plants. For both experiments, comparisons of burnt plots were made with unburnt controls. Fire was imposed in spring (September); the season in which burning for weed control in northern Queensland generally occurs. While maximum fire temperatures averaged 590 ± 46°C, the temperatures that seeds or capsules were exposed to depended on their location within the vertical profile, with temperatures decreasing in the following order: below fuel > crown of bellyache bush > 1 cm > 0.5 cm > bare ground > 2 cm > 4 cm below ground. There were negative correlations between seed germination and peak fire temperature and between viability and peak fire temperature. Seed viability was nil for seed under fuel but >80% for seeds placed on bare ground or ≥2 cm below ground. Fire reduced germination and viability of seeds held in capsules by 31 and 35%, respectively, when compared with unburnt seeds. While ant-discarded seeds generally had a higher germinability than intact seeds, they were more susceptible to fire. This may be attributed to loss of the external protective barrier of the seed coat (exotegmen) caused by the feeding of ants. Bellyache bush seeds were recorded across all soil depths, reaching a peak of 3.8 million seeds per hectare at 1–5 cm soil depth. These results suggest that while bellyache bush seeds are susceptible to fire, many are buried beyond the reach of lethal temperatures. Therefore, viable seeds will be available for post-fire recruitment and other measures, such as chemical control, may need to be employed in conjunction with burning.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agriculture and the environment
Plant pests and diseases > Weeds, parasitic plants etc
Live Archive:12 Jan 2024 05:44
Last Modified:12 Jan 2024 05:44

Repository Staff Only: item control page


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics