Tabebuia serratifolia is used for the reforestation of degraded areas. Despite protection by law for permanent preservation, the species is in danger of extinction due to improper exploitation. With the objective to aid preservation and long term storage of the species we evaluated morphophysiological alterations of T. serratifolia seeds during the maturation process in order to identify markers that can be used for harvesting and storage. Fruits were collected at anthesis and seven developmental stages from trees growing in Lavras, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. At each harvest, fruits and seeds were evaluated for color and size, moisture content, dry matter, internal morphology (by X-ray analysis), germination parameters (in vitro and ex vitro), as well as sugar and polyphenol content and heat resistant proteins. During the maturation process the initially green fruits changed to a brownish color and grew from a length of 7 to 18 cm; cracks appeared at the beginning of seed dispersal. The seed color varied from leaf-green to brownish and the length from 1 to 3 cm. The first indicatior of physiological maturity should be observed at 39 days post-anthesis, when variations the color and size of both fruits and seeds were observed. Increase in the moisture content, dry matter and germination, percentage of seeds and embryos in vitro, as well as a reduction in sugar content and LEA proteins were also observed. The physiological maturity of T. serratifolia seeds was reached 53 days after anthesis, coinciding with a maximum of dry matter accumulation and germination (and index of germination speed ex vitro), decrease in phenol levels, higher intensity of heat-resistant protein bands and the beginning of fruit opening.
forest seeds; maturation; seed quality; preservation