The Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program Database (CPNPP)

Seed germination trials of native species commonly used in revegetation seed mixes and potential native winners in the Colorado Plateau

Project #: 247716  –   Updated: December 13, 2016


Andrea T Kramer and Alicia Foxx. 2014. unpublished seed germination data, also available at Chicago Botanic Garden. Supported by the Bureau of Land Management Plant Conservation Program.

Project Summary

This project aimed to determine optimal germination conditions for species currently used in restoration in the Colorado Plateau, as well as other priority forb species that may be beneficial to include in future restoration efforts. Specifically, we tested dormancy and germination patterns for 18 seed lots representing 14 species used by the BLM’s Grand Junction Field Office to aerially seed the 2012 Pine Ridge burn area (“broad seed mix”), as well as 14 seed lots of 13 potential “native winner” species that were sown in study plots at the burn area in fall 2012. For this study, seeds were plated on 1.5% agar in petri dishes (4 replicates of 25 seeds per treatment) and incubated in growth chambers at Chicago Botanic Garden in 2013 using six temperature treatments* intended to represent different seed sowing times and locations in the Colorado Plateau:
1) early-spring (4 weeks at 52°F/34°F)
2) winter (12 weeks at 34°F) and early-spring (4 weeks at 52°F/34°F)
3) mid-spring (4 weeks at 59°F/41°F)
4) winter (12 weeks at 34°F) and mid-spring (4 weeks 59°F/41°F)
5) late-spring (4 weeks at 68°F/50°F)
6) winter (12 weeks at 34°F) and late-spring (4 weeks 68°F/50°F)

*Treatments are shown as day/night temperatures respectively, using a 12h/12h light/dark cycle.

Project Conclusions

In general, most species included in the study germinated to the highest percentage after receiving a 12 week cold stratification period, suggesting that seeding for revegetation in late fall or early winter months will support the greatest germination in the spring. Some species may have been able to germinate with a "winter" period of fewer than 12 weeks (not tested), and some species were able to germinate without a winter treatment as long as night temperatures were near freezing.


Targeted habitats:

    • Shrublands and Grasslands

Targeted species:

  • Western Yarrow Achillea millefolium var. occidentalis
  • Indian Mountain-ricegrass Achnatherum hymenoides
  • Four-wing Saltbush Atriplex canescens
  • Yellow Spiderflower Cleome lutea
  • Pinnate Tansy-mustard Descurainia pinnata
  • Bottlebrush Squirrel-tail Elymus elymoides
  • Slender Wild Rye Elymus trachycaulus
  • Aspen Fleabane Erigeron speciosus
  • Sulphur-flower Wild Buckwheat Eriogonum umbellatum
  • Common Sunflower Helianthus annuus
  • Hairy False Goldenaster Heterotheca villosa
  • Prairie Flax Linum lewisii
  • Hoary Tansy-aster Machaeranthera canescens
  • White-stem Stickleaf Mentzelia albicaulis
  • Western Wheatgrass Pascopyrum smithii
  • Dusty Beardtongue Penstemon comarrhenus
  • Heliotrope Phacelia Phacelia crenulata
  • Woolly Plantain Plantago patagonica
  • Curly Bluegrass Poa secunda
  • Sand Dropseed Sporobolus cryptandrus
  • Red Globemallow Sphaeralcea coccinea

Study Type

Seed germination trials

Public Access

Site Name Publicly Accessible
Chicago Botanic Garden - Plant Conservation Science Center Yes

Additional Information