Garlic mustard seeds are dormant at maturity, and 90 to 105 d of cold-moist stratification at 4 C have been used to induce germination. We studied methods for breaking dormancy and inducing germination without cold stratification, for use in laboratory and greenhouse experiments with garlic mustard. Seeds were collected from large infestations, stored at room temperature, and subjected to chemical and mechanical scarification treatments. For chemical scarification, seeds were immersed in 3% (v/v) H2O2 for 12, 24, or 48 h with constant stirring, or immersed in concentrated (95 to 97%) H2SO4 for 1 or 5 min with stirring. For mechanical scarification, seeds were placed in a sandpaper-lined tumbler for 1 or 3 s. Scarified seeds, along with non-scarified seeds, were placed in petri dishes on germination blotters saturated with gibberellic acid (GA3, 10−3 M) or deionized water, and incubated for 35 d at either 20/10 C or 15/6 C (12 hr/12 hr). None of the non-scarified seeds germinated, regardless of germination solution or temperature. Seeds germinated only following scarification, and only when imbibed in GA3 solutions. Seeds immersed in H2SO4 for 5 min or mechanically scarified for 3 s had the highest level of germination in GA3. Cumulative percent germination after 35 d was greater for seeds stored 30 mo (44 to 83%), than for seeds stored 6 (2 to 60%) or 18 mo (35 to 79%), regardless of scarification treatment. The germination results, along with scanning electron micrographs of seed coats, suggest that the intact garlic mustard seed coat is permeable to water but not GA3; therefore, both scarification and GA3 are needed to break dormancy and induce germination without cold stratification.
Nomenclature: Garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata (Bieb.) Cavara and Grande.