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Studia bot. hung. 34, pp. J 2 J-/26, 2003


T H E F L O R A OF H U N G A R Y , I . M O N O C O T Y L E D O N O P S I D A

P . C S O N T O S1, J. T A M Á S2 and L . B A L O G H3

'MTA-ELTE Research Group on Theoretical Biology and Ecology

Eötvös Loránd University, Pázmány Péter sétány. 1/c, Budapest, H-I1J7, Hungary

2Department of Botany, Hungarian Natural History Museum

H-1476 Budapest, Pf 222, Hungary 'Department of Natu red History, Savaria Museum Kisfaludy S. it. 9., Szombathely, H-9700, Hungary

New thousand seed weight records are reported for 38 members o f the Hungarian monocotyledonous flora. Seed samples were harvested from natural populations, kept dry t i l l the end o f the vegetation period, then their seed mass were determined. One to three hundred-seed lots were used for measure­ ments w i t h accuracy o f 0.1 mg (up to 30 g) and 0.1 g (above 30 g). M o s t o f the new records corre­ spond to already k n o w n rules o f seed m o r p h o l o g y and ecology. I n some cases the new records re­ quired i n d i v i d u a l interpretation as they d i d not support general trends. W h e n thousand seed weight records were plotted against naturalness o f species a slight positive correlation occurred indicating that monocots w i t h larger seed mass values often received higher rank o f naturalness values. W i t h one table and one figure.

Key words: diaspore weight, Hungarian flora, Monocotyledonopsida, naturalness value, seed weight


The role of seeds and fruits in the dispersal and establishment of species and

the recognition of their importance in vegetation restoration resulted an increasing

interest on the reproductive propagules of higher plants

( H O W E




al. 1996,


et al. 2002). Vegetation scientists reported new ecological rules

derived from size and shape of seeds and fruits, that requires an extensive database

of raw data of species' reproductive propagules. Also for appropriate operations by

environment engineers in vegetation restoration projects these databases offer use­

ful information. T o serve these challenges seed morphological and seed ecological

databases were established in the last decades

( G R I M E

et al. 1981,



al. 1997,



T o j ó i n the international trend completion of a seed size and shape database of

the Hungarian flora was decided

( C S O N T O S

1998). For filling up the database we

used three types of data sources: data published in the literature, measurements of

seeds received from botanical gardens and measurements of freshly collected

seeds originated from spontaneous populations. Evaluation of the seed weight da­

tabase w i t h application examples were given by




(2001 ) and



(2002). In this paper we publish data o f 38 monocotyledonous species o f

the Hungarian flora for what thousand-seed-weights are first reported.


Seeds or fruits o f species were collected in the f i e l d at mature stage. For species w i t h easy-to-harvest seeds several hundreds were collected (3 hundreds being the m i n i m u m ) , otherwise at least 100 seeds were taken. Whenever it was possible, attention was paid to collect pooled seed sam­ ples from several mother plants o f the same stand to avoid bias caused by maternal effects ( K a z i n c z i and M a g y a r 2003). In case o f fleshy fruits the seeds were removed in the lab d u r i n g the subsequent days then cleaned and d r i e d at r o o m temperature. A l l seed samples were put i n labelled paper bags and stored at room temperature t i l l the end o f the vegetation period (late October - early N o v e m b e r ) . For measurements hundred-seed lots (or hundred-diaspore lots) were prepared. Damaged seeds were not considered. Three lots were measured for the majority o f species, i n some cases t w o or one. U p to 30 g the accuracy was 0.1 m g (using K E R N - 4 1 0 automatic chemical balance), whereas above 30 g it was 0.1 g ( N A G E M A digital weighting machine). Thousand seed weight o f a species were calculated from the average weight o f the seed lots. I n case o f six species seeds were collected from spontaneous populations by the Botanical Garden o f the Ecological and Botanical Research Institute o f the H u n ­ garian Academy o f Sciences ( V á c r á t ó t ) . These samples were subjected to the same operations as de­ scribed above.

As an example for seed mass data application in botanical research a pilot test was made re­ garding the relationship o f seed mass and naturalness values (sensu B O R H I D I 1993) o f the 38 species discussed in this paper. For statistical evaluation the ordinal scale o f naturalness values was d i v i d e d into the f o l l o w i n g three parts: " l o w " , from - 2 to + 2 ; " m e d i u m " , from +3 to + 5 ; " h i g h " , from +6 to + 10; then the seed mass data o f the " l o w " and " h i g h " groups were compared i n t-test ( S v á b 1981).


New thousand seed weight records are given for 38 monocotyledonous spe­

cies o f the Hungarian flora representing the following taxonomic groups: Poaceae:

12 spp., Cyperaceae: 9 spp., Liliaceae (sensu lato): 7 spp., other monocots: 10 spp.

(Table 1). Seed samples are stored in the seed collection of the Botanical Depart­

ment of the Hungarian Natural History Museum (Collectio seminum et fructum, BP).

Most of the new records correspond to already known trends o f seed ecology.

Seed mass of three rush species (Juncus atratus, J. conglomeratus and J. gerardii)

proved to be extreme low (Table 1) similar to most o f their congeners. Several

small seeded Juncus species including J. conglomeratus are reported to establish

long term persistent seed bank

( T H O M P S O N

et al. 1997) and / . gerardii was already

classified as having well developed seed bank w i t h considerable persistence in

various European vegetation types

( E R K K I L A






Therefore we can assume a similar soil seed bank behaviour f o r i , atratus as well.


T a b l e 1. Seed weight records first published to 38 species o f the Hungarian flora. S N = number o f seeds measured, W = thousand seed w e i g h t in grams

Species name O r i g i n o f the seeds Date S N W ( g )


Potamogeton pectinatus L . D i n n y é s , D i n n y é s K a j t o r i


30.09.2000 100 6.280


Allium rotundum L . subsp. V á c r á t ó t 2000 300 0.574

waldsteinii (G. D o n ) Richter

Allium sphaerocephalon L . N a g y k o v á c s i , N a g y - S z é n á s ,

dry grassland

1995 300 0.766

Hemerocallis lilio-asphodelus L . Vas county, Nárai 1996 200 52.4

Ornithogalum comosum L . C s i k i M t s , T ö r ö k u g r a t ó 18.07.1996 300 3.511

Polygonatum latifolium (Jacq.) Desf. C s i k i M t s ( K F K I ) 20.09.1998 300 23.90

Scilla autumnalis L . V á c r á t ó t 2000 100 2.090

Scilla vindobonensis Speta K u p , K u p i - e r d ő1 23.05.1996 300 5.056


Galanthus nivalis L . K u p , K u p i - e r d ő1 23.05.1996 300 6.1 12


Crocus heuffelianus Herbert K u p , K u p i - e r d ő1 10.06.1996 300 5.664

Crocus reticulatus Stev. K o c s1 23.05.1996 200 4.921

Iris sibirica L . K ő s z e g , A l s ó - r é t e k 05.09.1995 60 15.80


Juncus atratus K r o c k e r V á c r á t ó t 2000 100 0.032

Juncus conglomeratus L . Dunaremete, Sorjás pasture 1995 100 0.01 1

Juncus gerardii L o i s . S á r k e r e s z t ú r , Lake S á r k á n y 22.08.1996 300 0.044


Limodorum abortivum ( L . ) Sw. Budapest, Ö r d ö g - o r o m 02.07.2000 100 0.002

Neottia nidus-avis ( L . ) Rich. H o l l ó k ő , near F ö l d v á r 12.09.1998 300 0.008


Carex alba Scop.2 Buda M t s , K i s - S z é n á s 08.08.1999 200 3.271

Carex cuprina ( S á n d o r ) Nendtvich S z á z h a l o m b a t t a , fish-ponds 1995 300 1.218

Carex elata A l l . S z á z h a l o m b a t t a 1995 300 0.414

Carex hallerana Asso V á c r á t ó t 2000 200 2.702

Carex liparicarpos Gaud. Budapest, T ü n d é r - s z i k l a 15.08.1996 300 3.257

Holoschoenus romanus ( L . ) Fritsch V á c r á t ó t 2000 300 0.090

subsp. holoschoenus ( L . ) Greuter

Schoenoplectus litoralis (Schrad.) Velence 1995 300 0.974


Schoenoplectus triqueter ( L . ) Palla Velence 1995 300 3.012

Scirpus syivaticus L . F e l s ő s z ö l n ö k , wet meadow 1995 300 0.089


Bromus ramosus Huds. B ö r z s ö n y M t s 02.07.1998 200 4.36

Calamagrostis epigeios ( L . ) Roth near village N a g y k o v á c s i 10.10.1998 200 0.064

Cenchrus incertus M . A . C u r t i s3 V á c r á t ó t 2000 100 44.4

Eleusine indica ( L . ) G ä r t n . Budapest, I X . district 22.10.1996 300 0.363


T a b l e 1 (continued)

Species name O r i g i n o f the seeds Dale S N W (g)

Hordelymus euwpaeus ( L . ) Jessen Beech forest above 05.08.1998 300 7.32

P i l i s s z e n t l á s z l ó

Phleum phleoides ( L . ) Karsten Gerecse M t s , Nagy-Gete 15.08.1998 200 0.075

Poa nemoralis L . B ö r z s ö n y Mts 11.08.1998 100 0.13

Puccinellia limosa (Schur) Holmberg H o r t o b á g y 1995 300 0.132

Stipa eriocaidis Borb. Budapest, S z é c h e n y i - h e g y 13.06.1999 100 25.30

Tragus racemosus ( L . ) Desf. P o r p á c , railway station 28.08.1998 100 0.429

Triticum monococcum L . Szombathely, Beithe garden 27.08.1998 150 27.13

1 = collected by S. B a r a b á s ; 2 = grain crop w i t h silicle (utriculus); 3 = i n c l u d i n g spiny grain coat.

The two Scilla species can be mentioned as good example for seed mass dif­

ference of congeners preferring habitats with contrasting light climate (CSONTOS

1998). In accordance w i t h earlier observations, here again the heliophilous mem­

ber (Scilla autumnalis) has the smaller seed mass.

Some of the new records do not support the general rules and require special

interpretation. The relatively large seed mass of the small-sized sedge, Carex

liparicarpos contradict to the sunny habitats where this species is a member o f sev­

eral plant communities: Asplenia rutae-murariae-Melicetum ciliatae,

Cleistoge-no-Festucetum rupicolae, Astragale? aiistriacae-Festucetum sulcatae, Stipe?

erio-cauli-Festucetum pallentis, Seseli leucospermi-Festucetum pallentis (PENKSZA et

al. 1995, BORHIDI and SÁNTA 1999). This can probably be explained by extreme

high level of abiotic stress - mainly drought - in these habitats, that may support

larger seed mass governed by higher rate of seedling survival. Weedy species are

known to have relatively small seeds that are produced in large numbers to serve

the "colonisation strategy" of their seed dispersal behaviour (cf. HOWE 1986). In

this paper we report considerable diaspore mass for Cenchrus incertus (see Table

1) an alien graminoid weed of the Hungarian flora. A possible interpretation of it is

the epizoochorous dispersal of Cenchrus what may permit heavy diaspores, while

ability for long distance dispersal is still retained.

Finally, we made a pilot test on the relationship of seed mass and nature con­

servation status of the 38 species treated in the paper.

The ranking system of BORHIDI (1993) was used for classifying species ac­

cording to their naturalness values. In Borhidi's system the lowest ranked "aggres­

sive alien species" (invadors) score - 3 , whereas the highest score, +10, was given

to rare specialist species that are represented in the Hungarian flora with 1 to 5 pop­

ulations only. (In our case the naturalness values varied between - 2 and +10.) The

seed mass records were log-transformed to ensure normal distribution o f data.

When the logarithm of thousand seed weight data were plotted against natu­

ralness values (Fig. 1), a slight positive correlation occurred between the two


vari-O 05 O <U TJ CD CD CO TJ c CO o -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Naturalness value of species

9 10

F i g . 1. Seed mass and naturalness value o f 38 monocotyledonous species o f the Hungarian flora. E m p t y squares indicate posititions o f Orchidaceae species.

ables. (Orchids, though indicated, were not encountered because their seeds have

different anatomy with lack o f endosperm, thus they should not be discussed to­

gether with the "normal" seeded species.) The statistical evaluation by r-test con­

firmed a significantly higher seed mass o f species w i t h " h i g h " naturalness values

compared to that of " l o w " naturalness values ( n

( l o w )

= 6; n

( h i g h )

= 11; p < 0.1 ; critical

t '-value = 2.006; calculated f-value = 2.358). We found the results o f the pilot test

interesting and thought provoking, that may reflect to both underlying ecological

phenomena and human attitude in evaluating species. Larger seed size indicate

more pronounced K-strategist behaviour of a species and it is often linked with

higher sensitivity to habitat disturbances that may cause the rarity of those species

thus involving a higher value given by botanists. For better interpretation o f the re­

lationship between seed mass, naturalness and rarity o f a species further studies are

required using larger set o f species w i t h a detailed analysis of their function in the

Hungarian vegetation.

* * *

Acknowledgements - W e are indebted to several colleagues for their contribution i n collecting seed samples. M a n y thanks are due to H e d v i g Punka for the accurate handling o f the samples, and to E r z s é b e t Szurdoki and I s t v á n R á c z for their comments on the manuscript. Financial support f r o m the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund ( O T K A T025350 and T 0 3 7 7 3 2 ) , and S z é c h e n y i I s t v á n Fellow­ ships grant ( S Z Ö 372/2002, given to the first author) is greatly acknowledged.



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