Germination and longevity of purple witchweed seeds stored in nylon gauze bags in the soil in situ were tested in northern Bénin over a 2-yr period, covering the rainy seasons in 1994 and 1995. The seeds were collected at Ina Station in November 1993 from corn and sorghum fields. It appeared that germination percentages of the seeds, which were stimulated by GR24 to germinate, as well as their viability according to a tetrazolium test, decreased steadily in wet soil. During the 1994 rainy season, germination percentage of seeds, which reached maximum values of 30 to 74%, decreased to values of 11 to 17%. During the 1995 rainy season, the number of germinating seeds decreased further, and at the end of this season the germination percentage approached zero. Seed viability also decreased in line with the decrease in germination. In addition to the study on longevity under field conditions, seeds also were exposed to various water regimens in pots. In the pot experiment, purple witchweed seed viability and germination declined in moist soil treatments. The dying-off process observed contradicts the common opinion on longevity of Striga seeds in their natural environment. “Wet dormancy” was not observed in the course of the rainy season.
Nomenclature: Purple witchweed, Striga hermonthica (Del.) Benth STRHE; corn, Zea mays L.; sorghum, Sorghum bicolour (L.) Moench.