Research Branch

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A Guide to the Biology and Use of Forest Tree Seeds

Author(s) or contact(s): C.L. Leadem
Source: Research Branch
Subject: Tree Seeds
Series: Land Management Handbook
Other details:  Published 1996. Hardcopy is available.


The reasons for an interest in forest tree seeds vary widely. Nursery workers, silviculturists, seed orchard managers, cone collectors, and seed dealers have a very practical need for knowledge. But many others have developed a general interest in seed biology because they want to achieve a better under-standing of the natural world around them. Seed maturation, dormancy, and germination are still not completely understood. It remains somewhat of a mystery how a seed can remain viable for many years in the forest duff, then, responding to some cue, break through its woody seed coat and establish itself as an independent seedling. However, we know some of the factors critical to those processes, and we know that the effects of these factors may vary, depending on the physiological state of the seed. At the moment of natural seedfall, the potential quality of seeds is as high as it will ever be. To maintain that quality and to produce the best seedlings for reforestation, knowledge of tree seed biology is essential. This handbook describes the basic principles that govern the biology of forest tree seeds and examines how these principles might apply to reforestation. Its intent is to give an overall picture of how and why seeds may germinate and to provide some understanding of a remarkable process.

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Updated May 03, 2007