For treating seeds of Proteas, Leucospermums (pincushions), Leucadendrons, Ericas, Helichrysums (everlastings), restios (Cape grasses), Lobelias, grasses, sedges, mesems (vygies), Geleznowia, Hibbertia, Stirlingia, Verticordia, Actinostrobus, Pimelea, Lechenaultia Anigozanthus and many other species.

Seeds of many wildflowers are dormant and require very specific conditions for germination. The primer solution contains a combination of natural substances that have been found to overcome dormancy and stimulate seed germination. The degree of response varies with the species, but on average, treated seed samples give at least double the number of seedlings when compared to untreated samples.

In 1990 it was discovered that in addition to the more obvious effect of heat, smoke from fynbos fires on its own was responsible for breaking dormancy and stimulating the germination of seed. The procedure for smoking seeds requires the use of a polythene tent. However, not every botanist, horticulturist or home gardener has a smoke tent or access to the right plant material to burn, nor is it always possible or desirable to light an open fire to obtain smoke.

Kirstenbosch researchers have now gone a step further and developed "instant smoke" for growers who want to germinate the dormant seeds of wildflowers. In this invention absorbent paper is impregnated with fynbos-smoke-saturated water. The paper is then dried and sealed in a polythene packet. When dormant seeds require "smoking", a predetermined volume of water is added to the paper in a suitable container and the seeds are "smoke-primed" by soaking in the smoke-water solution for 24 hours. In order to have the maximum effect in breaking seed dormancy, a range of natural germination stimulators has been added to the smoke solution to overcome other forms of seed dormancy found in many species.

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Proceeds from the sale of the seed primer will be used to fund research at Kirstenbosch on seed dormancy of South African indigenous plants.

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