Published online by Cambridge University Press: 16 August 2016
The fruit plus accessory parts, and thus not only the fruit or seed, is the diaspore in some species of flowering plants. Atriplex centralasiatica, a summer annual salt-secreting cold-desert halophyte of central Asia that produces flat and humped diaspores, is such a species. The dispersal/germination units of this diaspore-heteromorphic species are fruits enclosed in persistent ‘bracteoles’. Germination of black and brown fruits (i.e. ‘bracteoles’ removed) of this species has been studied in some detail previously, but little attention has been given to the germination biology of the intact diaspores. The aim of this study was to compare the germination biology of the intact diaspores of A. centralasiatica, and their fates in the field during 12 months on the soil surface and buried at 5-cm depth. Fresh flat diaspores germinated to 42.7–51.3% in light (12-h photoperiod) and to 16.0–59.3% in constant dark, over a temperature range of 15–20/30°C, while no freshly matured humped diaspores did so under any temperature/light regime. Neither gibberellin (GA3) nor potassium nitrate (KNO3) had an effect on germination of either diaspore. Both diaspores readily imbibed water, and removal of ‘bracteoles’ released most of the dormancy. Thus, the ‘bracteoles’ are primarily responsible for diaspore dormancy in A. centralasiatica. Humped diaspores persisted for a longer period in the soil than flat ones. The germination requirements of intact natural dispersal/germination units of A. centralasiatica differ from those previously reported for fruits of this species.