Germination of Artemisia sphaerocephala (Asteraceae), occurring in the sandy desert areas of Northwest China

Z. Huang, Y. Gutterman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Artemisia sphaerocephala is a dominant perennial shrub in large areas of active and stabilized sands of the deserts of northwest China. A. sphaerocephala produces achenes in three colours that germinate at different rates but reach the same final germination percentages. The seeds are covered by a thick pericarp which becomes a mucilaginous layer when wetted and increases in weight 589 times by absorbing water. These achenes float on water for a long time and varying concentrations of salt solutions affect germination. The achenes germinate in light but not in dark. The optimal germination temperature is 25°C. At 10°C and 30°C germination was slow and reached low percentages. Germination was inhibited at 5°C. The deeper the achenes in sand, the lower and slower their germination. No seedlings emerged from achenes located 2 cm and deeper. However, when the upper layer of sand was removed leaving 0.5 cm, their germination reached the same percentages as the achenes located 0.5 cm deep from the beginning of wetting, but at a faster rate. The higher the sand moisture content, from 1.7% to 14.7%, the higher and earlier the germination. From 19.4% moisture content germination was delayed and seedlings remained undeveloped.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-196
Number of pages10
JournalSouth African Journal of Botany
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1999


  • Achene colours
  • Light intensity and germination in soil
  • Mucilage-water absorption and floating
  • Salt concentrations and sand moisture content
  • Temperatures and light duration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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