Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist 44(1):30–38; 2012


Published by the Great Plains Natural Science Society. Used by permission.


The unique vegetation assemblage of the Black Hills in conjunction with the frequent occurrence of natural and anthropogenic disturbances emphasizes the need to use locally adapted native species in a wide variety of restoration efforts. However, a general lack of information regarding germination and propagation requirements for most native plant species has restricted their usage. A better understanding of dormancy and germination patterns for native species will increase their availability and affordability. We selected two common native species, hairy goldaster (Heterotheca villosa) and prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis), to determine their optimum germination conditions. We hand-harvested seeds during 2007–2009 for use in germination trials following two pre-treatment conditions (2-week stratification at 5° C and no stratification), under seven temperature treatments in 2009. We used tetrazolium (2, 3, 5-triphenyl-2H-tetrazolium chloride) to determine germination potential of ungerminated seeds. Recognizing significant treatment interactions for both species, percent germination of hairy goldaster seeds was greatest under cooler constant temperatures (15° C or 20° C) with no stratification. Germination of prairie dropseed seeds was significantly influenced by the year in which seeds were collected, which also determined how the seeds responded to stratification. For both species, stratification significantly increased germination of at least one extreme of the temperature gradient (15° C or 30° C). Patterns of germination observed for both are consistent for species inhabiting grasslands and meadows with a fluctuating environment and subjected to moderate seasonal disturbances.