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An Ecological Life History of Geranium maculatum

M. Celine Martin
The American Midland Naturalist
Vol. 73, No. 1 (Jan., 1965), pp. 111-149
DOI: 10.2307/2423326
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2423326
Page Count: 39
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
An Ecological Life History of Geranium maculatum
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Abstract

Geranium maculatum L. is a herbaceous plant widely distributed throughout the deciduous forest region of eastern North America. The range of variation for 21 characters of the plant as determined by examination of herbarium material from various parts of the range showed no definite geographical trends. Two uniform gardens, one in the sun and the other in the shade, permitted close observation of the behavior of the plant. Determination of phenological differences indicated that they are not readily associated with latitude, longitude, or familiar climatic correlates of these two factors. Basal leaves appear in late March or early April in Indiana. The stems bearing the flowers appear approximately 2 weeks later. Flowering takes place in 10-14 days with pollen shedding occurring within 1-3 days. Ripe fruit appears approximately 3 weeks after flowering followed by seed ejection in 1-3 days. Flower buds are formed during late summer or fall. Formation of the buds is dependent upon prior production of basal leaves. Transplants grown in full sunlight show much greater vegetative growth and greater vigor in flowering and fruit development than those in continuous shade or in natural communities in sun or shade. The rhizome is branched and furnishes an efficient method of vegetative propagation. Rhizome sections die after 1 or 2 years. Dormancy of the rhizome can be broken by cold treatment and growth is abundant in contrast to that in rhizomes kept at uniform warm temperatures. The seasonal growth and development of the rhizomes through a 2-year cycle are presented in diagrammatic form. Germination experiments indicate that dormancy of the seed of G. maculatum is due both to the dormant embryo and to the hard seed coat. Dormancy may be broken by low temperatures. The quality of the seed is good, 90% being viable.

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