Journal Article

The fire ephemeral <i>Tersonia cyathiflora</i> (Gyrostemonaceae) germinates in response to smoke but not the butenolide 3-methyl-2<i>H</i>-furo[2,3-<i>c</i>]pyran-2-one

Katherine S. Downes, Byron B. Lamont, Marnie E. Light and Johannes van Staden

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 106, issue 2, pages 381-384
Published in print August 2010 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online July 2010 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
The fire ephemeral Tersonia cyathiflora (Gyrostemonaceae) germinates in response to smoke but not the butenolide 3-methyl-2H-furo[2,3-c]pyran-2-one

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Background and Aims

Tersonia cyathiflora (Gyrostemonaceae) is a fire ephemeral with an obligate requirement for smoke to germinate. Whether it is stimulated to germinate by 3-methyl-2H-furo[2,3-c]pyran-2-one (karrikinolide, KAR1), the butenolide isolated from smoke that stimulates the germination of many other smoke-responsive species, is tested.


Seeds of T. cyathiflora were buried in autumn following collection and were exhumed 1 year later, as this alleviates dormancy and enables seeds to germinate in response to smoke-water. Exhumed seeds were tested with smoke-water and KAR1. Fresh preparations of these solutions were again tested on seeds exhumed 2 months later under a broader range of conditions. They were also tested on Grevillea eriostachya (Proteaceae) and Stylidium affine (Stylidiaceae) to confirm the activity of KAR1.

Key Results

T. cyathiflora seeds germinated in response to smoke-water but not to KAR1. In contrast, G. eriostachya and S. affine germinated in response to both smoke-water and KAR1.


Although many smoke-responsive seeds germinate in the presence of KAR1, this does not apply universally. This suggests that other chemical(s) in smoke-water may play an important role in stimulating the germination of certain species.

Keywords: Butenolide; germination; karrikinolide; smoke; 3-methyl-2H-furo[2,3-c]pyran-2-one; Grevillea; Stylidium; Tersonia cyathiflora; Gyrostemonaceae

Journal Article.  2911 words. 

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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