Main content area

Habitat preferences as related to the prolonged dormancy of perennial herbs and ferns

Reintal, Margit, Tali, Kadri, Haldna, Marina, Kull, Tiiu
Plant ecology 2010 v.210 no.1 pp. 111-123
calcareous soils, dormancy, environmental factors, ferns and fern allies, habitat preferences, herbaceous plants, herbs, life history
Prolonged dormancy (hereafter dormancy), a phenomenon in which a perennial herbaceous plant does not sprout for one or more years, is examined. The phenomenon may be more frequent than stated so far and discovery of its role in plant life history and performance is still underway. Data from published papers was reviewed and all known species exhibiting dormancy were analysed from the aspect of species ecological values. Adaptation to environmental factors (light, moisture, pH and nitrogen as estimated by Ellenberg indicator values) influences the maximum duration of dormancy. A higher proportion of plants are dormant in species that prefer to grow in good light conditions, dry sites and infertile soil. The duration of dormant period is longer in species that prefer to grow in dry sites and/or calcareous soils. A range of factors, we believe, control plant behaviour, however, it is suggested that environmental stress is the principal factor inducing dormancy.