In order to reveal some of the germination requirements of The boreal-alpine terrestrial orchid Dactylorhiza lapponica, several experiments were carried out on seeds collected from the Sølendet, nature reserve, central Norway. Seeds were sown in seed packets made of nylon cloth and deployed in situ vertically in the peat in order to study the temporal pattern of seed germination and determine if the seeds became part of the soil seed bank. In vitro germination experiments were carried out varying the growth media, fungal partner and chilling treatment, in order to study the effect of a fungal symbiont on germination and early protocorm development, and the possibility of a physiological seed dormancy. A high rate of germination a short time after sowing in the in vitro experiments together with a very low survival after deployment in the in situ experiments (0.2% after three years) indicate that D. lapponica seeds are not part of a long-lived soil seed bank. In vitro experiments also demonstrated that a fungal symbiont was not required for germination. Seeds sown in situ had very low germination rate (11%–12%) and lack of available nutrients is suggested as a possible explanation. Presence of a fungal symbiont clearly enhanced the early development of protocorms in vitro, and is probably necessary for the seedling to grow beyond the earliest protocorm stages under natural conditions. The results indicate that recruitment is highly variable and very low relative to population size, indicating that survival of established plants is crucial to the fate of a population.
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Vol. 45 • No. 3