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Brazilian Journal of Botany

Print version ISSN 0100-8404On-line version ISSN 1806-9959

Abstract

HELLMANN, Moacir E.; MELLO, Juliana I.O.; FIGUEIREDO-RIBEIRO, Rita C.L.  and  BARBEDO, Claudio J.. Freezing tolerance in seeds of Caesalpinia echinata Lam. (brazilwood) as influenced by the initial water content. Rev. bras. Bot. [online]. 2006, vol.29, n.1, pp.93-101. ISSN 0100-8404.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-84042006000100009.

Caesalpinia echinata Lam., a Brazilian tropical woody species, is at risk of extinction due to the economic exploitation of its heartwood. In natural environment, under warm temperatures, seeds of C. echinata germinate immediately after shedding, keeping their viability under storage only up to three months after harvesting. These seeds are tolerant to desiccation (until 7.6% wet basis) maintaining their viability (more than 80%) until 18 months when stored at 7 ºC, but the final percentage of seedlings produced from those seeds is low. In the present work the effect of freezing temperatures on the storability of C. echinata seeds was evaluated, aiming to increase the period in which seeds are capable to produce normal seedlings. Results showed that C. echinata, in spite of being a tropical species, has seeds tolerant to freezing temperatures depending on their initial water content, which should not be higher than 12.7% (wet basis). Seeds stored under -18 ºC for 24 months produced ca. 80% of normal seedlings while those stored at 7 ºC produced, as reported previously, only ca. 20% of normal seedlings. These data add new information to the seed physiology of C. echinata and can be useful to improve seedling production and germplasm conservation of this important species native from the Brazilian Atlantic Forest.

Keywords : cold storage; Leguminosae; seed germination; tropical tree.

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