Venice mallow is an emerging weed problem in many regions of the world in various crops. Studies on its hard seed coat were conducted by scanning electron, light, and fluorescence microscopy. The effects of environmental factors on germination and seedling emergence were examined in laboratory experiments. Seeds possessed physical dormancy (90%) that required immersion for 0.5 h in concentrated sulfuric acid to break without damaging the seed. After scarification, 29% of seeds exhibited primary embryo dormancy. Exposure of seeds to even short periods of 15 d of prechilling induced secondary dormancy (10% germination). The surface of hard seeds had a velvety appearance from numerous papillate structures and deposits (hydrophilic material). The location of the water barrier was very superficial in the outer seed coat. Although, in hard seeds, the hilar area appeared to have vertical ruptures and the hilum fissure appeared to be open, there was no water entry. It was observed that microruptures could be the region of structural weakness of hard seeds in relation to water permeability during prolonged burial (8 mo).
The highest (60%) germination was recorded at a day/night temperature of 30/20 C with a 12-h photoperiod. No germination was measured at either 10 or 45 C constant temperature. Germination was recorded with a broad range of pH (3–11) and seeds were rather tolerant to low water potential (20% germination at –1.2 MPa). Seedling emergence was higher for seeds buried at 2 cm than for those placed on the surface (54 vs. 38%, respectively). These results showed that Venice mallow is a rather unique species that possesses a complex mechanism of dormancy (physical, primary, and secondary). Information gained in this study will be used in developing management strategies for this species.
Nomenclature: Venice mallow, Hibiscus trionum L. HIBTR.