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Seed Propagation of Arisaema sikokianum (Araceae)

Article  in  Acta horticulturae · February 2002

DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2002.570.44


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4 authors, including:

Seiichi Fukai
Kagawa University


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Seed Propagation of Arisaema sikokianum (Araceae)
Seiichi Fukai, Atsushi Hasegawa and Masanori Goi Norimichi Yamasaki
Dept. of Horticulture Kochi Agr. Res. Center
Kagawa University High Land Experimental Station
Miki-cho, Kagawa 761-0795 Ohtoyo-cho, Kochi 789-0315
Japan. Japan

Keywords: Arisaema sikokianum, germination

Arisaema sikokianum is one of the most beautiful Arisaema species native to
Japan. A. sikokianum produces 300 to 1100 seeds per spadix. The fruit color is green to
pale yellow in November and changes to orange and finally to red in December. Seeds
harvested in November show low and slow germination. On the other hand, faster and
higher rate of germination is observed when seeds are harvested in December and
stored for more than one month at room temperature. Both chilling and GA treatments
are effective in enhancing germination. Optimal temperature for seed germination is
15-25C under dark conditions.

Arisaema sikokianum (Araceae) is one of the most beautiful Arisaema species and is
endemic to Shikoku Island and a limited area in Honsyu Island in Japan. The genus Ariaema
consists of more than 100 species distributed in East Asia and eastern North America and have a
great potential for new garden and pot plants. The habitat of A. sikokianum is a margin and open
space of mixed Cryptomeria japonica woodland. A. sikokianum is classified as a vulnerable
species on the list of endangered species in Japan (Iwahashi,1994). Large numbers of corms of A.
sikokianum are picked from the habitat because the commercial production of corms through
seeds has not yet been established. Arisaema species demonstrate sexual dimorphism based on
size (paradioicus), i.e. when the plant is small in size the sex expression is male, changing to female
as the plant grows larger (Kinoshita 1986,1987, Meeuse 1985, Takasu 1987). This unique sexual
dimorphism results in an unstable seed supply. There is no information on the seed propagation of
A. sikokianum except for some fragmented information provided from alpine plant lovers. The
aim of this work is to determine the conditions of seed germination in A. sikokianum.


Sex expression of Arisaema sikokianum in a colony in Kagawa Prefecture was
investigated in spring in 1999 and 2000. Plants were classified as male, female or neutral

Seed Collection
Spadixes of A. sikokianum were obtained from several habitats in Kochi and Kagawa
Prefectures from November to December in 1998 and 1999. Seeds removed from fruits were
washed three times with tap water. Air-dried seeds were stored at room temperature until further

Effect of Seed Maturation on Germination

Seeds harvested in November were sown immediately and those harvested in December
were sown either immediately or after 1 or 2 months storage at room temperature. Seeds were
placed onto two layers of wet filter paper in 9cm diameter petri dishes. All dishes were incubated
at 25C in the dark for 8 weeks. Each treatment consisted of 2 replications of 50 seeds each.
Effect of Chilling Treatment on Germination
Firstly, the effects of GA3 and chilling treatments on germination of seeds harvested in
November and December were tested. Seeds were placed in petri dishes with a 1ml aliquot of

Proc. 8th Int. Symp. on Flowerbulbs

Eds. G. Littlejohn et al. 327
Acta Hort. 570, ISHS 2002
1000ppm GA3. Other seeds were placed in petri dishes and stored at 4C for 30 days before
incubation at 25C. Each treatment had 3 replications of 30 seeds each.
Seeds harvested in December and stored at room temperature for 30 days were subjected to
chilling temperature (4C) for 15,30,45 and 60 days under wet conditions and for 30 days under
dry conditions, following incubation at 25C in the dark for 5 weeks. Each treatment consisted of 2
replications of 50 seeds each.

Effect of Temperature and Light on Germination

Seeds harvested in December and stored at room temperature for 30 days were subjected
to chilling temperature (4C) for 30days under wet conditions. The seeds were incubated at 15, 20,
25, 30, 35C with (20µmol/m2/s) or without light for 5 weeks. Each treatment consisted of 2
replications of 50 seeds each.


A. sikokianum showed uneven male-female sex expression in the habitat. Female / male
ratios were 0.16 and 0.17 in 1999 (n=59) and 2000 (n=66) respectively. Similar low female / male
ratios were reported in other Arisaema species (Takasu 1988).
A fruit had one to three seeds. Each spadix produced 335 to 1142 seeds (730 in average,
n=16). Seed weight varied from12.5mg to 29.2 mg depending on spadices. No relation between
the number of seeds per spadix and the average seed weight was observed.
The fruit color was green to pale yellow in November and changed to orange and finally to
red in December. Seeds harvested in November showed slower germination and a lower final
germination percentage compared to seeds harvested in December. A faster and higher
germination rate was observed when seeds were harvested in December and stored 1 or 2 months
at room temperature (Fig. 1). Both chilling and GA3 treatment were effective in enhancing
germination (Table 1). Seeds given chilling or GA3 treatment showed faster and higher
germination. Seeds harvested in December were more responsive than those harvested in
November. Seeds of A. sikokianum are not mature in November, and the turning of fruit color to
red is a sign of seed maturation for seed dispersers, mainly small birds, under the natural
Seeds exposed to longer chilling temperature in wet conditions germinated faster (Fig.2)
while storage at 4C in dry conditions was less effective in enhancing germination. Seeds stored at
4C in wet conditions for 45 or 60 days showed the fastest and highest germination. Chilling
treatment is practically useful for faster and uniform germination but is not essential for seed
germination of A. sikokianum.
Seeds incubated at 15, 20 or 25C showed faster and higher germination than those
incubated at a higher temperature. Dark conditions produced faster and higher germination rate
than light conditions (Fig.3).
The present study demonstrates that seed propagation is a promising method to produce a
large number of A. sikokianum cormels. Seeds sown in Kanuma (volcanic porous) soil in January
and grown in a greenhouse with partial shade produced about 200mg cormels after 8 months
culture. More than three years from seed to flower is required for the weight of the corm to reach
about 4g (Kinoshita 1986). Preliminary experiments show that cormels are dormant in autumn and
do not sprout until early in the following spring. Attempts are being made to produce larger corms
in shorter times.

Literature Cited
Iwahashi, J (ed.) 1994. A pictorial of Japanese flora facing extinction (In Japanese).
Kinoshita, E. 1986. Size-sex relationship and sexual dimorphism in Japanese Arisaema
(Araaceae). Ecol.Res. 1:157-171.
Kinoshita,E. 1987. Sex change and population dynamics in Arisaema (Araceae) I. Arisaema
serratun (Thiunb.) Schott. Pl. Sp. Biol.2:15-28.
Meeuse, B.J.D. 1985. Arisaema. In: A.H.Halevy ed., Hand book of flowering I, pp. 511-516.
CRC Press, Florida.

Takasu, H. 1987. Life history studies on Arisaema (Araceae) I. Growth and reproductive biology
of Arisaema urashima Hara. Pl. Sp. Biol.2: 29-56.
Takasu, H 1988. Life history of Arisaema angustatum (In Japanese). In: S. Kawano ed.,
Shyokubutunosekai vol. 2, pp. 54-85. Kyoikusya, Tokyo.


Table 1. Effects of chilling and 1000ppm GA3 treatments on seed germination.

Harvest time Treatment Days to 50% germination Germination (%)

November Cont. - 44.7 ± 3.5 a

GA 28.0 ± 2.0 a 69.3 ± 1.8 b
Chilling 21.0 ± 0.6 ab 66.7 ± 2.9 b
December Cont. 28.3 ± 3.8 ab 78.9 ± 6.7 b
GA 17.0 ± 0.0 c 98.9 ± 1.1 c
Chilling 12.0 ± 0.0 d 93.3 ± 3.3 bc

Means ± SE, values within column followed by same letter are not significantly different at p=0.05.

90 Nov.
80 Jan.
70 Feb.
0 4 8 12 16 20 24 28 32 36 40 44 48 52 56
Days after sowing
Fig. 1. Effects of seed maturation on germination.


40 W-4-30
30 D-4-30
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34
Days after sowing
Fig. 2. Effects of chilling treatment on seed germination.
W=Wet; D=Dry; Cº, duration

80 20-D
70 25-D
60 25-L
50 30-L
40 35-D
0 2 4 6 8
10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34
Days after sowing
Fig. 3. Effects of temperature and light conditions on seed germination.
D= dark; L= light


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