Published online by Cambridge University Press: 19 September 2008
The ecophysiology of germination in Pinus brutia and P. halepensis was studied in seeds collected from different areas of Greece. In regard to the temperature range of germination, both P. halepensis and the southern provenance (Lasithi, Crete) of the East Mediterranean pine, P. brutia, follow a typical Mediterranean pattern. In the latter species, dramatic differences in the degree of dormancy were noted among the three provenances investigated; in all seed lots however, 20°C was clearly the optimal temperature for germination. Stratification resulted in a considerable promotion of P. brutia seed germination. Nevertheless, the inductive effect of stratification was shown to differ among the three provenances used, escalating from a simple increase of germination rate (in the southern seed lot from Lasithi, Crete) through a broadening of the temperature range of germination (in the intermediate lot from Thasos Island) to, finally, a dramatic release from a particularly deep dormancy (in the northern lot from Soufli). These deeply dormant seeds of the latter provenance displayed an absolute stratification requirement; prolonged illumination or seed coat scarification could not substitute for the promotive effect of prechilling. A considerable interaction between far-red light and stratification was revealed in the dormant seeds of P. brutia (Soufli provenance); far-red pulses during stratification could either cancel or diminish the germination promotion induced by low temperatures. The differences observed in the germination behaviour among the various P. brutia provenances may be attributed to a variable ecophysiological strategy in regard to the temporal pattern of seedling emergence and establishment. According to the variants of this strategy, seed germination is timed to occur during either spring (in regions with relatively cold and moist climates), or autumn and early winter (in southern, mild and dry areas) or both (in intermediate conditions).