possums and passiflora

madabouteu(8A - central Alabama)September 24, 2008

Several weeks ago, I posted my hypothesis that passiflora seeds were designed to germinate well only after passing through the intestinal tract of some animal such as a raccoon or a possum. The idea met resistance.

Well, more or less by accident, on the Internet I found a master's thesis written at the University of Canterbury, a New Zealand school. The investigator studied the banana passionflower, P. mollissima (sp?); it has become an invasive weed in that country. One discovery was that, after being eaten by pigs or possums, the recovered seed had a germination rate of around 50%!!!

You gotta admire the devotion of that graduate student, sifting through pig feces to recover seeds! Glad that was not my thesis... though I did work in an area that still had land mines about (the Sinai).

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An interesting study but they say that ''Seeds germinated readily in all treatments, with no significant difference between cleaned and fleshy seeds, so seeds do not require frugivore (fruit eater) handling to germinate.''
The implication however which they note is that controlling pig and possum distribution may prevent the spread of the plant as it does not seem to be spread by birds.

Here is a link that might be useful: Passiflora seed information

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 4:11PM
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