Effects of Different Pretreatments and Seed Coat on Dormancy and Germination of Seeds of Senna obtusifolia (L.) H.S. Irwin & Barneby (Fabaceae)

  •  Stephen I. Mensah    
  •  Chimezie Ekeke    


The seed dormancy of Senna obtusifolia was investigated through various methods, namely pretreatments in concentrated sulfuric acid, 2% potassium nitrate (KNO3), 99% ethanol, 99% methanol, and in hydrogen perioxide; examination of the seed coverings; and the determination of water uptake by the seeds in order to ascertain the most effective technique for breaking dormancy and also determine the dormancy type. The results showed that sulfuric acid treatment recorded the highest germination (100%); followed by 2% hydrogen peroxide treatment (24%) in 15minutes immersion. The methanol and ethanol pretreatments gave 18.33% and 16.5% germinations respectively. Pretreatment in 2% potassium nitrate gave the lowest germination (8.50%), while the intact seeds of S. obtusifiolia (control) gave 0% germination. The anatomy of the seed coat indicated the presence of hard, thickened and specialized cells of cuticle, macrosclereids, osteoscereids, and disintegrated parenchyma layers. The water uptake of intact seeds was low (13.5%) after 24 hr imbibitions. These findings revealed that the seed coat acts as barrier to germination by preventing water absorption, possibly gaseous diffusion in and out of the seed and conferring mechanical resistance to the protrusion of embryo. Pretreatments, such as immersion in H2SO4 will soften the seed coat and permit germination. Seed dormancy in S. obtusifolia can be considered of physical nature and classified as physical dormancy. The results obtained in this study may serve as useful information in the production and improvement of S. obtusifolia seedlings, as knowledge on seed dormancy and germination is a critical factor and requirements to the understanding of the propagation of this plant either in situ or ex-situ, in view of the economic potentials/attributes of this species.

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