How long can a seed be asleep?
Seeds not only like travelling but also like sleeping.
A large number of seeds are unable to germinate immediately after they
fall from the parent plant, so they remain "asleep" for a certain
time. This state in which seeds fail to germinate despite the availability
of favourable germination conditions, such as warmth and moisture, is
called dormancy. It works as a mechanism which allows the plant to germinate
only when the conditions are fully favourable for survival of the seedlings.
The period of dormancy can last from a few weeks up to many years.
This apparently simple survival strategy of seeds can be a deep and complex process which combines several of the basic dormancy types, and may need the application of several factors in a laboratory to get seeds to germinate.
© ENSCONET. European Native Seed Conservation Network